Sometimes, things fall apart. In this case, what’s falling apart is the men’s soccer team’s season.
Coming into this week, the Dragons sat at 2-12-1 with little hope in the conference, but still trying to make improvements on both ends and hopefully win some games as the season comes to a close.
The Dragons travelled to Baltimore, Maryland to take on the Loyola University Greyhounds. The Greyhounds limped into the game in a similar state to the Dragons ailing team, with a 2-9-2 record of their own with postseason as something of a distant dream.
The teams played a well-fought game overall, but in the beginning it didn’t look like it would be close.
Early in the contest, Xander Saling made his will known on the Dragons’ defense. In 8:38 of play, Saling had two goals and the Dragons faced a seemingly insurmountable 2-0 deficit. That wouldn’t be the end of Saling’s impact on the game.
The Dragons slowly clawed their way back into the game, first when Erik Alexandersson took a shot off of a through-ball by Xavier Hernandez into the box. That was one of just two shots the Dragons had in the first half, but it found net and cut the deficit in half in the 20th minute.
The remainder of the half was mostly Loyola dominated, as they took a total of nine shots in the period, but neither team managed to get on the board again before the buzzer sounded.
Early in the second half, the Dragons finally got the equalizer off of a Thompson-to-Thompson connection in the 50th minute. Aaron Thompson crossed the ball from the left side of the field and it found Tristan Thompson in the box, who finished it to bring the game to 2-2.
Once again, the Greyhounds basically dominated the half despite conceding a Drexel goal, as they once again notched nine shots to the Dragons’ two.
However one-sided the contest appeared, it looked like the Dragons were going to escape with a positive result for the first time in almost a month. The last time the Dragons escaped a game without a loss was the Sept. 26 victory against James Madison University. They had lost five consecutive contests coming into the Loyola game.
And thanks to Xander Saling, that streak would continue.
As the game wound down, both teams pressured with hopes that they would be able to capture the goal to give them the victory, and that was the downfall of the Dragons.
In the 89th minute, the Dragons were facing the entirety of the Loyola offense full force, and had only a few minutes remaining to withstand the onslaught to escape with a tie.
Xander Saling had other ideas. A saved shot rebounded in the box, and Saling sent it into the back of the net. The late goal virtually ensured a Loyola victory and the Dragons were unable to really get anything else going to contest that, so the game ended in a Drexel loss of 3-2.
Saling’s hat trick is the first such feat conceded by the Dragons defense this season, and it was crushing to lose a game so within the team’s grasp. The loss leaves the Dragons at 2-12-1 and though there is little on the line at this point in the season, winning games is still nice and it was a tough break for a team that’s been working hard to improve this season.
It wasn’t a great game in goal for Tyler Afflerbach, as he allowed three goals on eight shots in a full game of work. It’s also tough as a goalie when the offense is unable to generate any momentum the other way and the defense is constantly pressured.
On Oct. 24, the Dragons will face off against The College of William and Mary at Vidas Field at 4 p.m., hoping to recover from the late loss and improve their record as the season nears its end.