Following a 1-0 win against the University of Delaware to conclude the regular season, the Drexel women’s soccer team will head into the Colonial Athletic Association Championships as the No. 2 seed. For the first time in program history, the Dragons have achieved a winning season, as the closing regular-season match marked their 13th win of the season (13-3-2, 7-2-1 CAA), shattering a team record.
Their win against the Blue Hens was very fitting to the way many of games this season have played out. Drexel won with defense and a late goal to seal the shutout.
Goalkeeper Eve Badana blanked Delaware, making three saves. It marked her tenth shutout of the season, which shatters a team record. Additionally, it secured the team record for fewest goals allowed in a season. Badana and the Dragons allowed only 12 goals throughout the 18-game schedule, shattering the previous record of 20.
The lone goal of the game came very late, with 2:16 left to play, to put Drexel in front. Senior Courtney Wylie set the play up with a corner kick. She sent it into the box, allowing Alyssa Findlay to head it to Sam Greenfield. The junior defender then sent a shot right past goalkeeper Jessica Levy to net her fourth game-winning goal of the season and fifth goal overall.
It was the second time during this current three-game winning streak that the Dragons netted the game winner with less than three minutes to play. Head coach Ray Goon said the team won the game with the same approach it’s had all season long: playing a team game.
“To beat a very strong Delaware squad in the fashion that we have done all season was a testament to the collective effort the team has displayed all season long,” Goon said. “The focus from day 1 has been to prepare ourselves and to help each other to play the best we can, and if we play to our potential, everything will take care of itself.”
The team honored its seniors at the game, which marked the program’s annual Senior Day. The eight seniors on the roster were honored before the game and were able to play their final game at Vidas Field in winning fashion. 2012 marked the second straight season Drexel went undefeated at home. The Dragons’ last home loss was to Delaware on Oct. 30, 2010.
So the Dragons will head into the CAA Championships on a winning note. As one of the top two seeds, they earned a first-round bye, catapulting them right to the semifinals.
They are set to kick off their run at a championship in Williamsburg, Va. Goon and his squad feel as though they are as prepared as ever for the team’s inaugural tournament appearance. It is the strong regular-season experience, he said, that has put them in this position to thrive.
“The team has dealt with its fair share of challenges and adversity all season long,” Goon said. “That experience has molded and prepared us into what we are today, a CAA playoff team. I don’t see why we wouldn’t be ready for this great opportunity that the team has earned.”
The Dragons learned Oct. 28 who their first opponent will be. The University of North Carolina Wilmington defeated Delaware in penalty kicks, following a tie in regulation in their first-round tournament match. UNCW outkicked the Blue Hens 4-3 following the 1-1 draw. A No. 3 seed, they earned the right to advance and face the Dragons. The semifinal matchup will be played Nov. 2 on the campus of The College of William & Mary at 5 p.m.
The other semifinal matchup on Nov. 2 is between William & Mary and Hofstra University, and the winners of each of those games will advance to the championship game, which will take place Nov. 4.
This is a bit of a tough draw for Drexel, facing a Seahawks team that beat the Dragons Sept. 28. That game was in Wilmington, N.C., however, and it snapped Drexel’s nine-game unbeaten streak. UNCW would go on to finish the season 12-6-2 and a very impressive 7-3 in CAA conference play.
Goon knew challenges would arise as part of being in the tournament. Despite this, he believes that if the Dragons play their game, they should handle themselves well.
“The CAA’s playoffs will be very challenging, but we will approach the tournament in the same manner we’ve approached every match,” Goon said. ”This approach has seemed to work thus far,” he continued.
With that, the Dragons will enter the tournament with very high expectations. Goon and the players have one thing on their mind — a championship.
“Every team that makes the playoffs has the same expectation — to win the championship,” Goon said. “We are no different.”
In the end, though, it comes down to execution. The Dragons have done that all year long, so if they continue to make plays and play as a collective unit, there’s a good chance they can make even more school history in the coming days.
“The focus in every game is to play as a team and to our potential,” Goon said. “If we do that, I like our chances.”