During the final stretch of the Drexel University men’s lacrosse 2011-12 season, the Dragons found themselves losing games by an extremely small margin. During their April 14 contest against the University of Massachusetts Minutemen, who were tied for No. 1 in the nation, the Dragons (5-7, 3-2 Colonial Athletic Association) fell just short in the final quarter, losing to the Minutemen 8-6 and suffering their second CAA loss of the year.
“There’s no real difference in losing by one or two,” head men’s lacrosse coach Brian Voelker said.
During the game’s first 12 minutes, each team was on the defensive prowl, protecting its goalie with everything it had. Neither team was able to put one in the net until Drexel sophomore Ben McIntosh shot a bullet past UMass star goalie Tim McCormick.
Less than a minute later, Aaron Prosser quickly got into scoring position to score a goal, giving the Dragons an early 2-0 lead. Due to strong defensive efforts, Drexel managed to hold onto its lead until midway through the second quarter, when the Minutemen’s Steve D’Amario managed to slide one into goalie Mark Manos’ cage.
“Our defense played a very good game,” Voelker commented. “[But] the University of Massachusetts is very talented on the offensive end.”
The Minutemen (11-0, 4-0 CAA) would continue to show their stick skills on offense, as they added another goal to tie the score at 2-2. The tied score is attributed to Will Manny, the nation’s leading point man, who would finish the contest with one goal and one assist for the day.
Before heading to the locker rooms, each team would score one more, finishing the half with a tied score at three apiece.
Heading into the third, the Minutemen scored one right off the bat, taking the lead for the first time in the contest. This goal would prove to be the first and only for the third quarter.
Entering into the fourth, the Dragons had a goal of their own, ending the stalemate that had so characterized the first three quarters.
With nearly seven minutes remaining in the fourth, Massachusetts’ Colin Fleming put another one past Manos, giving his team a 5-4 lead, which the team would maintain and expand throughout the duration of play. One minute later, teammate Steve D’Amario added a goal, giving Massachusetts the greatest lead of the game at 6-4.
During the ending moments of the game, Kevin Stockel took a shot, missed, picked up his rebound and scored, bringing the Dragons within one point with less than two minutes left to play.
After the Minutemen took possession on the next faceoff, the Dragons were forced to press and take Manos out of goal. He finished the day with eight saves. With a wide-open net, the fifth-best scoring team in the nation was able to add two more goals over the span of one minute. Drexel freshman Nick Saputo added one more goal for the Dragons.
“It was a back-and-forth game,” Voelker said. “We had opportunities to win the game but didn’t get it done. We needed to be better on offense to win. We had some great looks at the goal but really shot poorly. We also had a few breakdowns on defense that could have been avoided.”
After the contest, UMass remains undefeated for the season and is set to take on Hofstra University April 21.
Even with two consecutive tough conference losses, the Dragons hope to bounce back with a big win against Towson University April 21. This is not only the last conference game of the year, but it also determines whether or not Drexel makes it past the regular season.
“We win the game and we’re in the Colonial Athletic Association playoffs,” Voelker said. “We control our destiny.”
Last season the Dragons defeated Towson 13-9. With an already solid defense and a potentially dominating offense, the Dragons have all the tools they need to make it to the playoffs. All they have to do is go out there and win.