After falling to the No. 1 University of Virginia in their opener, the Dragons bounced back with a huge win over the State University of New York at Albany Feb. 25 followed by a tough loss against No. 8 Villanova University Feb. 28.
Thanks to the efforts of Robert Church and Kyle Bergman, Drexel took an early 2-0 lead against Albany. That was short-lived, as the Dragons let the Great Danes snag four of the next five goals, putting Albany ahead 4-3.
The duo of Church and Bergman once again scored back-to-back goals, taking the lead back for their team. As the first half came to a close, Albany found the net once, followed by Church scoring a goal moments later. Brendan Glynn also scored with just 21 seconds remaining to send the teams to the locker room with Drexel ahead 7-5.
The final two periods were filled with Dragon domination. After a close score of 8-7 early in the third, Drexel kicked it into high gear and ran away with a lead that was too much for the Great Danes to handle.
With key contributions from players such as Church, who finished with five goals, and goalie Mark Manos, who had 14 saves, the Dragons walked away with their first win of the season, 13-8.
“We had to go up there and get our first win,” head coach Brian Voelker said. “It was a little helter-skelter, but we did get the win, and that’s what we really focused on.”
The contest against Villanova was another story. Drexel got off to a rough start and had a hard time climbing out of the hole they dug for themselves. Within the first five minutes of play, the Wildcats scored six goals, and outshot the Dragons 12-7 in the first quarter alone.
“I give our guys a lot of credit — we were down 6-0 and fought and fought and fought,” Voelker said. “But especially against a team this good, you can’t put yourself in that kind of hole.”
Moving into the second, Drexel had to make fast moves toward the goal. With efforts from Church, Glynn, Bergman and Ryan Belka, the Dragons managed to bring their team within two points of the Wildcats at 5-7.
After Villanova sneaked another goal past Manos, the teams closed the half with the Wildcats ahead 8-5.
Entering the third, Nova translated a two-man advantage into a 10-5 lead. For the rest of the quarter, the Wildcats would score one while Aaron Prosser and Bergman would each put one on the board for the Dragons.
Even with valiant efforts in the fourth from the Dragons, Villanova kept charging the net and coming away with goals. After a defensively sloppy performance against an extremely talented team, the Dragons took their second loss of the season 14-9.
“We have to play better defensively, and we have to stop making big mistakes,” Voelker said. “The bottom line is when you play good teams and you make mistakes, they are going to make you pay for it — and Villanova made us pay for it tonight.”
Both teams finished the contest with 35 shots on goal, while Manos ended with 10 saves for the evening. This brought Villanova to 3-0 for the season, while the Dragons fell to 1-2.
The Dragons will need to be on point in order to take down their third top-10 opponent of the season in order to reach .500.
“We have to play better than we played tonight. We have to start the game off properly, and we have to get ground balls,” Voelker said. “I felt like we didn’t get any ground balls in the last three games except for in faceoffs, so we have to be better there.”
The Dragons are set to play the No. 9 University of Notre Dame at 1 p.m. at Vidas Field March 3.
The Dragons won a tight overtime matchup 7-6 over the then-No. 3 Fighting Irish the last time the two met at Vidas March 9, 2010, as then-freshman Church led the way with the game-winning goal.