The Drexel women’s lacrosse team struggled March 26, falling to No. 11 The Pennsylvania State University by a final score of 21-8, the team’s third straight loss.
Following back-to-back tough outings against the University of Louisville and The University of New Hampshire, the Dragons looked to get back on track against a very formidable Penn State squad, but the Nittany Lions’ offense proved too much to handle for the Dragons.
Drexel head coach Hannah Rudloff emphasized that maintaining confidence is crucial for the team to break their most recent rough stretch.
“We’ve had a rough stretch of tough [out-of-conference] opponents, and overall I think we need to go into games playing confident and expecting to win,” she said. “We need to play 60 minutes of confident lacrosse in every one of our conference games.”
The Dragons were in some unfamiliar territory in the match as it was the team’s first ever indoor game. The Nittany Lions captured a 6-0 lead in the opening minutes of game action as the Dragons struggled to gain possession. Sophomore midfielder Emily Duffey broke the early rally with her ninth goal of the season to put the Dragons on the board just over five minutes into the game.
Following Duffey’s goal, the Dragons appeared to settle in. Junior midfielder Joelle Hartke tallied her 12th goal of the season just two minutes after Duffey opened the scoring
Despite the Dragons’ offensive push, the Nittany Lions refused to lay off the gas pedal. Penn State answered Drexel’s goals with two of its own before the Dragons tallied their third.
Sophomore midfielder Emily Kellett recorded her first collegiate goal after she took a feed from Duffey and beat Penn State goalie Emi Smith over the shoulder. Kellett added her second with 5:44 left in the first half, once again beating Smith up high .
Freshman midfielder Caroline Thiele provided a late goal for Drexel with just 3:27 left in the first half as the Dragons tried to continue their climb back from the early 6-0 deficit. Penn State’s offense, however, remained the story of the first half, as they tallied a total of 12 goals before the break.
The start of the second half appeared to put the game out of reach for the Dragons. Penn State opened the half on a 3-0 run to extend its lead to 15-5. Senior attacker Kelly Palace scored her first goal of the game just two minutes later, but the game was already far out of reach.
Hartke added her second of the game and freshman midfielder Lacey Aghazarian netted her first collegiate goal for the Dragons to round out the scoring for Drexel. However, it wasn’t enough to overcome the powerful Nittany Lions offense, and the Dragons fell 21-8 in the end.
As the Dragons move forward after a tough loss, team leadership will be vital for the Dragons to get back on the winning track. Rudloff stressed that leadership must be a team effort and not just focused around specific individuals.
“Leadership all over the field is going to be really crucial throughout the final stretch,” she said. “We emphasize that it doesn’t matter, especially on this team, if you’re a senior or a sophomore. If you know something needs to get done on the field, communicate and make it happen.”
Following Penn State’s offensive outburst, the Dragons will be looking to put a stronger emphasis on the defensive aspects of the game. Rudloff believes the team’s defense will improve as the season progresses and the players adapt to all the different aspects[BM1] .
“Defense has and will absolutely be a priority,” she said. “We have a lot of different looks to give teams, and those take time to develop. We knew the early goings would be a little rocky while we iron out details of the different defenses, and we’re ready to put the pieces together for conference play.”
The Dragons will be back in action against two conference opponents this upcoming weekend. Drexel will travel to take on the University of Delaware April 4, and will follow that up by hosting Towson University April 6.
Heading into their first two conference matches of the season, Rudloff wants her team to expect to come out 2-0.
“We didn’t get to the conference tournament the last three years by magic,” she said. “We have to work hard, back each other up all over the field and expect nothing less than victory in both games this weekend.”