The Dragons travelled on Feb. 27 to take on the University at Albany, the eighteenth ranked team in the nation.
Tightly contested until the fourth quarter, this game presented the Dragons with a real chance to capture their first victory of the year. Through one quarter, the score was knotted at five, as Drexel’s freshman attacker Matthew Varian made his presence felt, assisting on two goals and scoring one.
The second period was much of the same, as both teams scored fairly easily. The Dragons were led by Cole Shafer, who scored two goals, and Varian scored his second goal of the contest in the quarter. John Maloney and Seth Oakes led the charge for the Great Danes.
Frequently, the break between halves presents a chance for coaches to make adjustments and the third period is often when those changes are most felt. It is common for the third period to be the deciding time for the outcome of a matchup, but Albany and Drexel fought bitterly through the third to be deadlocked going into the final quarter. In the third, Oakes scored yet again for the Danes and Robert Frazee scored his fourth of the season for the Dragons.
Starting the fourth tied at 13, both teams were in prime position to capture a big victory with the final 15 minutes. Albany played a strong 15 minutes. Drexel did not.
Oakes scored three more times in the final period, the entire Dragons team only scored once, another goal by Varian. The Great Danes outscored the Dragons by six goals in the fourth and won, 20-14.
The Dragons then made the short trip to Villanova University to take on the 14th-ranked Wildcats March 1, where three quarters of strong play were undone by a single poor one.
Both teams came out firing, taking double digit shots in the period, but neither team was really able to break through. The first quarter came and went and the teams were knotted at two.
While the fourth was the undoing of the Dragons against Albany, the second quarter really hurt them against Nova.
They allowed the Wildcats to take 15 shots to their eight, and were outscored by four in the period. Varian scored two more goals in the period, but his efforts weren’t enough, and the Dragons headed to the locker room down 8-5.
Two quick goals by Villanova out of the break pretty much sealed the victory for them, as their stout defense only allowed the Dragons to score four more goals in the game. The Wildcats took the victory, 14-9.
A few important things have made themselves apparent during the 0-3 start. Though it’s still early in the season, the Dragons look to have a much more balanced attack than last year, as they have five players with four or more goals. Varian appears to be the real deal, as he leads the team in points with nine and goals with five. Jimmy Joe Granito remains the man for Head Coach Brian Voelker, as he has played all three games in their entirety. His save percentage is 48.9 percent, which is higher than the Dragons’ opponents, which stands at 48.3 percent. This points to a bigger issue the team could have going forward: defense. They simply allow too many shots on goal. Granito has faced 59 more shots than opponents goalkeepers, which is a heavy load even for an elite goalie. Hopefully this is just a function of them playing very strong teams to start the season and they’ll have this worked out by the time conference play starts.
They’ll try once again to capture their first win at Saint Joseph’s University March 5 at 1 p.m.