The leaves of the trees dotting the Schuylkill River Trail are beginning to turn from green to amber and brown, signaling the transition from the last scraps of summer to the chill of autumn that readily descends upon the Drexel University campus. Through the lens of the women’s soccer team, this also speaks to the transition from early season exhibition and non-league play to the critical Colonial Athletic Association matchups that will ultimately define their season.
This past week, the team had two of these such matchups. The first required a trip up to Hempstead, New Jersey for a night contest against the Pride of Hofstra University. Throughout much of this one, the home team seemed to be the aggressor, evidenced by a 7-2 shots on goal advantage and the trio of yellow cards racked up during the match. They were able to break the scoreless tie in the 38th minute, when a penalty kick by Kristin Desmond found the back of the net. This was not an easy task, as to do so she had to get past reigning CAA Defensive Player of the Week Christiana Ogunsami, but Desmond’s goal signaled an impressive total of seven for the year.
While the Dragons fought, it was simply not enough, as only Emma Heckenberg and Shaelyn McCarty forced Hofstra goalie Ashley Wilson to make saves on the evening. A late goal by Jenn Buoncore sealed the victory for the Pride, sending Drexel closer to a .500 record at 6-5-1.
However, the Dragons would have a chance to bounce back just days later, this time on their home turf at the Vidas Athletic Complex. Emotions ran high during this one, as the team welcomed back former Drexel players and fans for Alumni day against the Tigers of Towson University. The story of this game was much different for the Drexel squad, as they came out firing from the opening whistle. Madison Dunn, Raenah Campbell, Imani Walker, Wilhelmina Hauch-Fausboll and Vanessa Kara all peppered Towson goalkeeper Taylor Sebolao with shots on the day, resulting in a 15-7 shooting advantage for the Dragons. The Drexel defense was stout as well, largely preventing their reliable keeper from being tested. And when she was, Ogunsami was up to the task, tallying saves for all four shots that came her way.
In the end though, it would be Vanessa Kara who would steal the show in this one. The forward/midfielder from Burlington, New Jersey entered the game as an established offensive weapon for the Dragons. She had scored four goals already for the year, including two in her last four appearances. And against Towson, this confidence was on full display. She gave the Tigers’ defense headaches all night, unleashing four shots each which needed to be saved by the keeper.
However, despite the dominance displayed on both ends of the field, it looked as though Drexel was destined to take the draw as the game neared its waning moments. But in the 89th minute, Madison Dunn drew a crucial penalty in the box, giving the Dragons one final chance to achieve a positive result in regulation. Coach Ray Goon turned to the hot hand in the bunch, and Vanessa Kara did not let him down. The junior hammered the penalty into the left side of the net, providing the exclamation point on a strong performance overall.
The women’s team will hit the road this week for conference games against the University of Delaware Oct. 5 and University of North Carolina Wilmington Oct. 8 as they look to keep the momentum rolling and climb further in the CAA standings.