M. soccer barely afloat | The Triangle

M. soccer barely afloat

With the Drexel men’s soccer team struggling to score goals so far this season, strong defense and excellent goalkeeping are keeping the Dragons afloat. As they move forward in Colonial Athletic Association play, Drexel must focus on defensive play in order to gain team momentum.

Drexel (1-7-2, 0-1-1 CAA) traveled to George Mason (4-3-3, 1-1-1 CAA) Oct. 5, where the Dragons earned a 0-0 draw against the Patriots. With solid goalkeeping from sophomore Pentti Pussinen and good team defense, the Dragons posted their third shutout in the last six games.

“Defense is a collective thing for us, and that’s where we need to be,” head coach Doug Hess explained. “We need all 11 guys defending as a unit in order to be strong and successful.”

Pussinen stopped all six shots on goal, but the offense could only muster two shots on goal and a total of 12 attempts. Sophomore midfielder Ken Tribbett played all 110 minutes and led the team with four shots — one on goal.

The Dragons began their CAA road schedule Oct. 1 at UNC-Wilmington (3-7-0, 1-3-0 CAA), and left with a 2-0 loss to the Seahawks. Drexel controlled most of the first half but could not capitalize on two early scoring chances.

Freshman midfielder Michael Pataia and freshman defender Robert Liberatore were both stopped by UNCW senior goalkeeper Brandon Miller to keep the match scoreless through the first 45 minutes.

In the second half, the game took a complete 180 when the Seahawks outshot the Dragons 13-5 — 7-0 in shots on net. UNCW broke through in the 57th minute with a goal from freshman forward Jack Ward and again in the 80th minute when junior forward Thomas Driver put one behind Pussinen. Freshman defender Jacob VanCompernolle assisted on both goals.

“If you look at our season so far, there have been a lot of low-scoring games,” Hess noted. “When we play full strength, 11 versus 11, we are under a goal per game. But it’s not just about defense — you must score.”

Maybe the Dragons’ upcoming homestand is just what the team needs to get back on the scoreboard. Drexel will face Towson (1-5-1, 0-2 CAA) Oct. 8 at 4 p.m. and Delaware (7-1-1, 1-1 CAA) Oct. 12 at 7 p.m. Both games will be held at Vidas Field.

Drexel has won three consecutive meetings against the Tigers, including a 4-3 victory on the road last season. In that game, then-freshman Tribbett scored two goals. Meanwhile, the Dragons have not defeated the Blue Hens since 2007 — a 3-0 home victory on the last game of the season.