The Drexel men’s soccer team won two Colonial Athletic Association home matches this week, Oct. 8 and 12, due largely in part to sophomore midfielder Ken Tribbett’s timely goals against both Towson and Delaware.
The Dragons hosted the Tigers Oct. 8 and got on the board in the fifth minute of the match. Junior midfielder Malcolm LeBourne was taken down in the box, and head coach Doug Hess appointed the subsequent penalty shot to Tribbett, who deposited the ball in the net for the first goal of the game.
“I definitely felt the pressure, but I was mentally prepared to take the kick,” Tribbett said. “During a penalty kick, the keeper can only make a save if you are unsure of yourself. I was confident, and I was able to slot it home to the keeper’s left.”
Sophomore forward Mark Donohue put away the match when he added a second Drexel goal in the 84th minute. Donohue won control of a ball inside the box and tapped it in after the Delaware keeper found himself out of position.
The defense was very strong against Towson, as it has been the entire year, allowing just two shots on goal. This made for an easy shutout from sophomore goalkeeper Pentti Pussinen, his fourth of the season, as the Dragons clinched a 2-0 victory.
“Pentti has been absolutely fantastic all year, so it is great to see him getting shutouts, as he definitely deserves them,” Tribbett added. “But the real reason we have had success defensively is because every player on the field is committed to defending.”
Looking to build on their win versus Towson, the Dragons faced Delaware at Vidas Field Oct. 12. The match started out slow and sloppy, shown by a scoreless first half in the pouring rain.
Delaware scored the first goal of the game just two minutes into the second half when sophomore forward Roberto Gimenez struck one past a diving Pussinen into the net for a 1-0 lead.
Although the Dragons did not have a come-from-behind win yet this season, the team stayed focused and responded just four minutes later with a goal of its own. Midfielder Michele Pataia scored on a rebound opportunity to tie the score.
“We kept our heads in it, we attacked them, and we were able to get the equalizer,” Tribbett explained. “Getting that goal so soon was key because once we tied the game, we all knew that we could come back.”
The match looked to be in jeopardy when the Blue Hens earned a penalty kick in the 82nd minute. Gimenez took the kick, which was saved with a miraculous diving stop by Pussinen to keep the score tied, and the match went into overtime.
After a scoreless overtime, the match proceeded into double-overtime. Facing a 1-1 draw, Tribbett took a long pass from sophomore defender Tal Bublil and was one-on-one with the Delaware keeper. Tribbett chipped the ball over the keeper into the net for the game winner in the 108th minute.
“The feeling of scoring any goal is unbelievable, but to do it in a sudden-death situation with all the pressure is indescribable,” Tribbett said. “That split second when you realize you have just scored the game winner is just pure joy and excitement. We all just went crazy.”
Tribbett, a second-year Dragon from Centennial, Colo., is building upon a solid freshman season, when he scored four goals — two game winners — and added two assists in 18 appearances. So far this season, Tribbett has two goals in 12 appearances, and both goals have been game winners.
With six CAA matches remaining, the Dragons will try to avoid a similar finish to last season, when they lost their last five matches en route to a 3-8 conference record.
“Last season we had some injuries, and unfortunately we were not able to get any results even though we were playing okay,” Tribbett said. “This year we are peaking at the right time, so all of our heads are into the season, and we will not give up.”
In order to keep the momentum going, Drexel will have to travel to Atlanta for a matchup with Georgia State Oct. 16. The Dragons have struggled on the road thus far, with an 0-4-2 record away from Vidas Field.
“We are a confident team right now, and we feel that we can win any match, so this mentality will help us going down to Georgia,” Tribbett explained. “We are looking turn around our road record, and we can do that by riding our wave of success and confidence.”
It will be a short road trip as the team travels back home to face off with Hofstra Oct. 19 at Vidas Field at 7 p.m.