Emotions ran high Oct. 24 as the Drexel Dragons celebrated senior day before their game against James Madison University.
The seniors were brought to the center of the field with their families and recognized for their contributions to the team. In an event like this, the flow of emotions can sometimes run over into the actual game. Once the festivities finished, the Dragons turned their sights to the Dukes, hoping to gain win No. 1 against a conference foe.
James Madison came into the game with an impressive 9-5 record while the Dragons came in sporting an 8-6 record. Seeing as this was a conference game, the win was greatly needed by both teams, but it was even more valuable to the Dragons. Drexel had lost both conference games that they had participated in, which is why this game was especially crucial for postseason chances.
The Dragons and the Dukes played an even first half. With emotions running high on the Drexel side of the field, the Dragons had a bit more of a push. Lauren Hibshman attempted the first shot of the game at the 8:30 mark for Drexel, but unfortunately she would be turned away by James Madison’s Hannah George. On the ensuing offensive possession for the Dragons, Chloe Pachuilo would attempt another shot on George, but again she would turn it away keeping the score tied at zero.
The first strike of the game came from Jessica McCarthy at the 18:40 mark. It was her fourth of the season. The rest of the first half was fully dictated by defense. Rebecca Werner made an important defensive save to keep the score in Drexel’s favor. James Madison would again attempt to score but Jantien Gunter would make the save with just five minutes left in the first half. The Dukes and Dragons would see the first half end with the score 1-0, Drexel.
The second half is where the tides began to turn against Drexel, and quickly at that. A little less than three minutes would pass in the second half before James Madison’s Dana Allaband nailed a penalty shot to tie the game. The scoring stopped there, as both teams were unable to find the back of the goal until late in the second half.
Drexel and James Madison both played stellar defense, trying to give their teams the opportunity to win. With just four minutes remaining in the second half, the Dukes found their way past the Dragons’ defense to score their second goal of the game. Bethany Ashworth scored her fourth goal of the season, and with it won the game for James Madison.
Another close game by the Dragons dropped with little time left in the second half. This has been an unfortunate trend for Drexel this season, one in which has been devastating to their regular and conference record.
Although it was another tough loss, the Dragons would have to regroup quickly. Drexel headed all the way down to Virginia for their next game Oct. 26 against The College of William & Mary.
The first half of this game was tough for Drexel as William & Mary controlled much of it. They shot on goal five times within the first five minutes of the start. Gunter did all she could, blocking four of those five shots. On the fifth try, the Tribe’s Emma Clifton scored the first goal of the game, making the score 1-0. Just four minutes later Clifton would again score to give the Tribe a 2-0 lead, just nine minutes into the first half. Gunter would continue to make big saves for Drexel in an effort to give the Dragons opportunities to tie or at least cut William & Mary’s lead in half. The Dragons, however, struggled offensively and could not get anything into the William & Mary goal.
In the second half, the offensive results were the same as in the first half for the Dragons. Drexel had a few opportunities to capitalize on, but were unable to do so. Gunter continued her strong play, accumulating more saves, and ended the game with 10. Drexel’s offense again struggled and because of their struggle the team lost a game they certainly should have won.
The Dragons fell to 8-8 on the season, and their conference record dropped to 0-4. Meanwhile the Tribe improved their record to 6-10 and their conference record to 3-1. This was a tough loss for the Dragons, especially coming off one day of rest and a long ride from Philadelphia to Virginia.
This was also another loss for the Dragons in which the team lost by a slim margin. This seems to be an unfortunate reoccurrence for the Dragons, and had a few of these games gone Drexel’s way, there would have been post-season excitement rather than general discontent. “The hardest part of my job is watching my team play well and still not get the result necessary for the win. We have had so many close games this season, with five of our eight losses being one-goal games,” head coach Denise Zelenak said.
Drexel has one more weekend of games, playing Towson University on Friday, Oct. 31, and the University of Delaware Sunday, Nov. 2. Although the Dragons will not be playing for a postseason spot they will still be playing with heart and passion, trying to end the season on a positive note.