The Drexel University men’s lacrosse team travelled to Charlottesville, Va., for its season opener Feb. 16 and suffered a 13-12 overtime loss to the University of Virginia. Virginia senior attack Matt White scored his fourth goal of the game 11 seconds into overtime, clinching the Cavaliers’ victory over the Dragons for the sixth consecutive season.
Virginia junior attack Nick O’Reilly amassed a game-high eight points, two goals and six assists, including a helper on White’s game-deciding goal. Both of O’Reilly’s goals came in succession in the first quarter to put the Cavaliers up 3-0 just under 11 minutes into the game.
“We started out slow in a couple of our scrimmages, and in the UVA game we started out slow again,” midfielder Ben McIntosh said. “They came out and scored three quick ones on us before we got our first goal.”
After an initial waking-up period, the Dragons worked to regain the lead by the end of the first half, with McIntosh leading the way. The junior from Coquitlam, British Columbia, notched two goals before the midway point, including his second score to put Drexel ahead 5-4 with eight seconds remaining in the first half.
Virginia came out of the locker room with two straight goals; it would be a back-and-forth game all the way to the end. In the second half there were a total of seven ties and six lead changes. McIntosh clinched his first career hat trick when he gave the Dragons an 8-7 lead with two minutes remaining in the third quarter.
“It was definitely cool to do. I got the opportunities and got lucky, I guess,” McIntosh said. “It depends who we’re playing and the matchups and everything, but [primarily] my role is to start the offense.”
The largest lead of the second half belonged to the Cavaliers, as they led 11-9 with 5:15 remaining in the fourth quarter on White’s third goal of the game. Drexel senior midfielder Aaron Prosser, who notched two goals and two assists on the day, scored his second goal of the game to bring the Dragons within one.
Then, freshman attack Frank Fusco added his second goal with just 1:23 remaining in the fourth quarter to tie the game 11-11. After a goal by Virginia senior attack Charlie Streep put the Cavaliers ahead with 49 seconds left, Drexel had to get to work quickly.
“I give our guys a lot of credit for fighting back when we were down two,” head coach Brian Voelker said. “Our offense after the first quarter played very well.”
Drexel sophomore midfielder Ryan Belka notched an unassisted goal with 10 seconds remaining to send the game into overtime, but White quickly put an end to the potential upset early in the extra frame.
Along with the clutch goal, Belka contributed three assists to the cause for a total of four points in the game. Other top scorers for Drexel included junior attack Nick Trizano, who scored two goals with one assist, and sophomore attack Andrew Vivian, who notched two second-half goals for the Dragons.
“We’re still a bit of a work in progress, … trying to figure out what to do on the offensive end,” Voelker said. “It’s a good problem to have when a lot of guys are contributing.”
Drexel’s back end provided some highlights and some shaky play against Virginia. The talented yet inexperienced defense was good in the Dragons’ first game of the season, but Voelker sees room for improvement.
“With a new defense, we weren’t quite sure what we were gonna get,” Voelker said. “In general our guys played hard, but we had some breakdowns and gave away a few easy goals.”
Freshman goalie Will Gabrielsen made his debut and turned away 15 of the Cavaliers’ 28 shots on goal. He matched Virginia freshman goalie Dan Marino, who allowed 12 goals on 27 shots, save for save through regulation. Voelker confirmed that Gabrielsen’s play in goal earned him a start against the University of Albany in the Dragons’ second game of the season Feb. 20 at Vidas Field.
The Great Danes will come to Philadelphia on the heels of a 16-15 double-overtime upset win Feb. 17 against Syracuse University. Albany is led by brothers Lyle, Miles and Ty Thompson, three star attackmen. The high-scoring trio combined for 18 points, 10 goals and eight assists in the team’s victory against the Orange.
It will mark the first home game of the season for the Dragons, who are 26-12 in their last five seasons at the friendly confines of Vidas Field. The team expects a packed house and a rowdy crowd for its home opener at 1 p.m.
“I’m hoping there will be a big crowd because this is a tough place to play,” Voelker said. “I hope the students and alums come and give us some great support as usual.”
“It’s always great to play at home because we have good fans,” McIntosh added. “It’s fun to have the alumni out there and just being able to play on your home field.”
The Dragons have defeated the Great Danes three consecutive times in a series that goes back to 2002. Following the game against Albany, Drexel will look to end a three-game losing streak against Villanova University Feb. 26 when the team takes on the Wildcats at Vidas Field.