Four is the magic number for the men’s soccer team this week.
Typically in sports, a magic number denotes success and implies that a team is very close to clinching a post-season berth.
That’s not quite what this number is about. In the context of the Drexel University men’s soccer team, the number four denotes the amount of goals they’ve scored through the first seven games of this season.
Head coach Doug Hess is stressing it to his team — particularly the seniors — trying to motivate them to move past this roadblock in the way of their success.
When asked about the offensive struggles the team is having, senior midfielder John Grosh, a mainstay in the Drexel attack, said there wasn’t a simple answer to the struggles the team is having.
“It’s definitely been a struggle, we don’t have any particular person stepping up and scoring goals right now. It just needs to come from the whole team.”
And that’s what it’s going to take: a team effort to put the cogs together and create a cohesive scoring unit. Grosh believes that getting these young and new guys — in particular Joaquin del Rosario, who has been away from the team because of academic ineligibility issues — involved is pivotal to turning things around.
“We have some new guys who we’re trying to work into the team. Tristan [Thompson] is a freshman, Nico [Delgado] just walked onto the team last year, Joaquin [del Rosario] hasn’t been with us and when he played early in the season he scored and had an assist so he’s huge. We really miss him.”
Speaking of del Rosario, it’s important to note that this ailing Dragons attack has been without him for weeks now and that he was the seventh highest goal scorer on the NCAA tournament competitive team from the 2013 campaign.
His problems off the field have forced him to play only 253 minutes on the field this season, which obviously hurts a team scrounging for goals like this Dragons team.
If the team is able to get his eligibility situation figured out, then the improvement will likely be drastic. The team has only scored four goals this season, two of them coming from del Rosario, either through an assist or a goal of his own.
Over the weekend, the Dragons managed to break their three-game goalless streak, but we unable to get a victory during their trip to Albuquerque, New Mexico, to play in the TLC Plumbing and Utility Invitational.
The first game of the weekend had them matched up with a very good University of New Mexico team and they fared well against the Lobos.
Most notably they managed to finally get on the scoreboard.
A beautiful through ball from Michele Pataia found a sliding Guido Pena in the box for his first goal of the season in the 75th minute of the match, a goal that would equalize the score at 1-1.
Earlier in the game, New Mexico had netted one of their own off a header by Nick Miele in the 35th minute, but Pena’s late goal tied things up and they would remain that way.
The game, like most of the Dragons’ games this season, headed to overtime in a tense defensive contest.
Neither team was able to net a goal, and the game ended as a 1-1 tie and the Dragons moved on to play California State University, Bakersfield in their final game of the weekend.
This time, the Dragons got on the board first with a Colin McGlynn goal in the 48th minute, putting them up 1-0.
The fun would soon end for the Dragons, as a specular goal less than 20 minutes later courtesy of Bakersfield’s Jamie Carey-Morell would bring the game to a draw. Startling absolutely no one, the game would go to overtime.
It wouldn’t last very long however, as a 94th minute Bakersfield goal ended the game soon after the overtime period began.
“Overtime, and college soccer in general, rides on a knife’s edge,” Coach Hess said, addressing the amount of overtime games his team has been in. “It really comes down to one play, yours or theirs.”
On Sept. 21 against Bakersfield, it was theirs. They made the play when it mattered, and they got the result that counts.
Returning from the long journey to New Mexico, the team seemed optimistic about the future and the likelihood of a turnaround before conference play.
Those hopes took a hit at the hands of Princeton University Sept. 24 at Vidas Field.
The game started out well for the Dragons, as they seemed able to move the ball on offense and kept up the defensive intensity they’ve had all season.
Again, the Dragons’ ultimate problem came down to their inability to actually get the ball into the net when it mattered.
The game progressed for over a half with things continuing in a back-and-forth battle, with Princeton and Drexel exchanging offensive chances, but neither able to get on the board.
The fatal mistake for the Dragons came in the 53rd minute, when an ill-advised tackle in the box gave Princeton a penalty kick and Thomas Sanner drilled it to give the Tigers a one-goal advantage, which against this Dragons team is as good as a 10-goal lead.
The Dragons were unable to score for the remainder of the contest, and the time ticked away without much of a scoring chance for the home team.
The loss brought the Dragons down to a 2-4-2 record on the season, but the good news is that conference play hasn’t begun yet and the Dragons still have time to turn things around.
They’ll look to do just that against Fairleigh Dickinson University on Sept. 27 in New Jersey.