After defeating Penn State University in the semifinals of the Colonial Athletic Association Tournament, the Dragons earned themselves a spot in the championship game against the top-ranked team in the nation, the undefeated University of Massachusetts. Unfortunately, this was where Drexel’s journey came to an end, as the Minutemen outscored the Dragons 18-12 May 5 in a hard-fought battle for the championship.
“We knew that UMass is a very talented team, and they have a very potent offense,” star goalkeeper Mark Manos said. “They are the No. 1 team in the country for a reason. We wanted to try and limit them inside and win the ground-ball battles, but unfortunately it just did not go our way.”
UMass kicked off the scoring with a goal just 58 seconds into play. That lead was short-lived, as Ryan Belka and Brendan Glynn each found the net to give Drexel an early 2-1 lead. Both teams swapped points for the remainder of the period, , but unfortunately for the men in Blue and Gold, the Minutemen found the net on an extra occasion, closing the period with a 4-3 lead.
Entering the second period, the Dragons were off and running. They scored two of the next three goals, bringing the game to a 5-5 tie. At this point it appeared as though the Minutemen switched it into high gear, as they went on a 5-0 run thanks to efforts from Kyle Smith, Art Kell and Ryan Hollenbaugh.
Within the final two minutes of the half, Glynn, who finished with three goals on the day, found the net for the Dragons, closing the half with a four-point deficit at 6-10.
“We never gave up,” Manos said. “At any point during the game, we could have just said it’s over and packed it in, but we kept fighting. The seniors did not want to go out this way, but we had to keep battling. … I give credit to everyone on this team. No one gave up, and everyone played their heart out.”
Even with strong defensive efforts from Drexel, UMass once again came out strong in the third, scoring three goals within the first five minutes of the period. At this point the Dragons needed a serious boost to keep themselves in the game. Moments later, on an unassisted opportunity, Andrew Vivian found the net for the Dragons, bringing the score to 7-13. The Dragons would only score one more for the period from Bergman, while the Minutemen would add another two to their total. The period closed with UMass holding a very comfortable 15-8 lead.
Even though the Dragons were trailing by a significant margin, they weren’t ready to throw in the towel. Within the first few minutes of the final period, Robert Church and Aaron Prosser each scored, tightening the score to 10-15. During the last minutes of play, the Dragons were struck with two penalties, giving UMass yet another opportunity to benefit from the situation. Though Drexel would find the net twice more in the contest, their efforts weren’t enough to take down the Minutemen, as the title game ended with an 18-12 score.
“No one in the world wanted to win that game more than the senior class, and it is unfortunate that we were not able to,” Manos said. “We fought hard in order to battle back from a slow start and make it all the way to the CAA Championship game. This class of seniors was extremely influential and instrumental in helping bring this team up to where it is today, and we want that legacy to be remembered and to continue with the underclassmen.”
Even though the Dragons suffered a tough loss, they still had a few standout players who received recognition for their efforts. Among those named to the All-Tournament team were Glynn, Bergman and Manos, who finished the contest with 11 saves.
At the end of the day, this is just one game in the grand scheme of the season, and as Manos pointed out, the legacy these seniors are leaving is the greatest gift they can give to the rising players. Moving forward, the underclassmen can benefit from these words of wisdom:
“You write your own chapter,” Manos said. “The underclassmen just need to understand and realize that you have to take control of your destiny out on the field, and I think that all of them see that this team is something very special, and they all have a huge role in writing the next chapter of Drexel lacrosse.”
The seniors will be dearly missed, but with the knowledge they leave behind, one can only hope that the underclassmen will do them justice as they continue on their journey to making the men’s lacrosse team the best it can be.