The Drexel University women’s soccer season is finally underway. The Dragons (3-1-0) have already played four games against Longwood University, Liberty University, Villanova University, and the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Drexel finished this four-game stretch with a three-game winning streak and just one opening-day loss against Longwood. Head coach Ray Goon didn’t expect to start the season on such a hot streak, which he attributes to the team’s strong core of veterans.
“You never know how long it is going to take the new players to adjust with the returning players and vice versa, so you always hope that the ball bounces your way more times than not as everyone gets acclimated,” Goon said. “That being said, our veteran players are doing an outstanding job expediting this process, and the new players are reacting well. The team has set high expectations for themselves, so I’m not surprised by this start.”
The Dragons started the season in Farmville, Va. against Longwood (3-1-0), where the game was delayed by an hour and a half due to lightning. The Dragons played defense for most of the game and didn’t get their first shot on goal until the 70th minute. The game stayed scoreless into the second half until Longwood finally scored in the 61st minute. At the 77th minute, the Lancers put the nail in the coffin by scoring their second goal. The Dragons finished with just five shots in the 0-2 loss.
“The strange thing about the start of this season is we displayed some of our best possessory play in our first game, but we still didn’t get a desirable result,” Goon said. “What that game did show us, though, is that you have to be prepared to employ whatever it takes for that day. If we have to play more direct versus possession play, we need to recognize that, and I believe our team has done this in the past three games.”
Drexel did just that in their second game of the season against Liberty (2-2-0) in Lynchburg, Va. The Dragons scored their first goal of the season in the 27th minute. The goal came from a corner kick that hit the post and was tapped in by sophomore defender Melissa Chapman. Afterwards, the Dragons clamped down defensively. Sophomore goalkeeper Eve Badana made five saves in the game to preserve the clean sheet in the Dragons’ first win of the season.
Drexel traveled to play area rival Villanova (1-2-1) Aug. 24. The Wildcats started the game with a bang, scoring a goal in the first two minutes. The Dragons answered in the 65th minute with a goal by senior forward Jess Lowinger. Lowinger connected on a net-mouth scramble to beat Villanova goalkeeper Kelsey Quinn. The game stayed tied until the 108th minute in the second overtime. Freshman forward Gabby Dixon scored the first goal of her collegiate career to win the game. Junior midfielder Jess Sarkisian sent a cross into the box, where Dixon was able to bury the shot to give the Dragons the 2-1 win.
The Dragons played their first home game against UMBC (0-3-1) Aug 27. The Dragons controlled the play in the first half despite not being able to convert with a goal. Drexel finally broke through in the 65th minute with a goal by freshman midfielder Lauren Stollar. Drexel continued to pour it on but failed to score another goal despite accumulating 21 shots in the game.
The Dragons are off to a hot start, but their big guns haven’t scored any goals. The diversity of scorers can be attributed to that. Four different players have scored goals so far this season, and Goon is happy with that after graduating the program’s all-time leading scorer.
“Graduating Jenna Lindsay, the program’s all-time scoring leader, our team knew that we needed to be more balanced in our attack this year,” Goon said. “The distribution in our scoring so far is a sign that we are prepared to take on this responsibility as a team and make our attack less predictable.”
Drexel will travel to Hawaii Sept. 2 to play two games against Hawaii University (3-1-0) and the University of Hawaii at Hilo. Although the trip will be a great team-building exercise for young players and older players, Goon has his eyes on the prize.
“Whenever you’re on the road, it’s a great opportunity to work on your team dynamics,” Goon said. “This trip to Hawaii will consist of some aspects beyond what we normally deal with regarding away matches. While our players are looking forward to this experience, they are focused on the main goal of this trip: to compete and come back with two wins.”