The Drexel women’s lacrosse team lost two and won one out of their last three games — April 22, 24 and 28 —but to say they simply lost two and won the other would be misguiding.
Now tied as the ninth ranked team in the nation in the Inside Lacrosse National Rankings, the James Madison University traveled to Vidas Field April 22 for the first of those three matchups.
The Dragons (9-6, 3-3 Colonial Athletic Association) swarmed the CAA’s first-place Dukes (12-3, 6-1 CAA) in the first half, so much so that they carried a 6-3 lead into the break. Sophomore midfielder Kelli Joran and junior attacker Jaclyn Klunder led the way for the Dragons in the first, each scoring two goals along with one goal apiece from Drexel’s top two scorers, attackers junior Charlotte Wood and sophomore Alyse Maiden.
The second half was a mirror image of the first, only it was the visiting Dukes that took control rather than the hometown Dragons. James Madison came out of the break, firing — and hitting — to score the second half’s first five goals to take an 8-6 lead — all before the midway point of the second half.
Although it seemed as though this early second-half surge by James Madison was too much for Drexel, the Dragons managed to shrug it off and create a little offense of their own. The next two goals were both scored by the Blue and Gold, as Maiden recorded her second and third scores of the game, while also securing the hat trick, knotted the game up at eight.
The game seemed certain to head into extra time as the underdog Dragons were poised to register the upset if they could just carry their momentum into the overtime period.
Then, the unthinkable happened — with just seven seconds remaining in regulation, Casey Ancarrow of James Madison found a hole in the Dragons’ defense and managed to slip one by Drexel’s senior goalkeeper Whitney Johnson — the CAA’s goals against average leader — for the game-winning goal. This was the redshirt sophomore attacker’s fourth score of the game for the Dukes, all of which came in the second half that was ruled by James Madison.
Despite the loss, Drexel head coach Anna Marie Vesco and her players kept their heads held high with confidence, knowing that they can compete with the best teams in the conference as well as the nation.
“Our team played extremely well against James Madison,” Vesco said. “We outplayed them the whole game with the exception of our draw controls. It’s nice to know that we can hang tough with the [then-12th] ranked team in the country.”
The following contest for Drexel was April 24 when George Mason (3-14, 0-7 CAA) also made its way to Vidas. The game was the final regular season home game for the Dragons, which meant that this day was Senior Day. This gave Vesco and her players some extra motivation to play hard for the graduating seniors.
The Dragons controlled the scoreboard in the first half, scoring the first five goals of the game. They allowed just one to the Patriots with a little over five minutes remaining before the break. Heading into halftime, Drexel led the game 5-1.
The second half went the same way, with the Dragons doing the majority of the scoring. By the end of the second half, Drexel had allowed just two more goals, three in total — highlighting a game in which they played outstanding defense — to their nine total goals scored.
The final score of the game was 9-3 in favor of the Dragons, with four of their nine coming off the sticks of departing seniors. Senior midfielder Amanda Gregg scored one for her sixth goal of the season, and senior defender Katie Blazer continued her outstanding season with a hat trick, bringing her goal total on the season to 15. This ranks her at fifth place on the Dragons with 19 overall points.
“Our defense played amazingly against George Mason,” Vesco said. “To hold any team, especially in the CAA, to three goals is extraordinary.”
Wood was also able to score for the Dragons. With one goal in each game this past weekend, she now has 40 on the season and 99 for her career. Heading into the final game of the season, Wood will be looking to score her 100th career goal in just her junior year.
“Charlotte [Wood] is looking at being in the top five leading goal scorers in Drexel history if she keeps this pace up,” Vesco said. “It’s very exciting.”
As for their final regular season game, the Dragons faced off against Hofstra University (5-10, 1-5 CAA) in what was essentially a tune up game. Drexel looked to cap off its season with another victory. If successful, Vesco’s team would have accomplished a feat that hadn’t been done by any Drexel women’s lacrosse team in the program’s history — finish over .500 in CAA play.
Unfortunately, these Dragons were once again unable to defeat Hofstra as the Pride now leads the series 22-7 after their 9-8 come-from-behind victory over Drexel. The Dragons led the game 8-5 at the halfway point of the second period, but that would be the last time they would score. The last four goals of the game came from Hofstra, including the eventual game winner, which was scored with just over five minutes left in the game.
The matchup itself was a tough one despite the Pride’s misleading in-conference record. Vesco talked about how Hofstra matches up well with her Dragons because the Pride is a “physical team.”
Although the Dragons would have liked to get the win at Hofstra, the game no longer had any implications for the CAA playoffs because College of William and Mary took care of that for Drexel.
Old Dominion University hosted the Tribe April 27 in Norfolk, Va. for a game with huge playoff implications. If the Monarchs had been able defeat William and Mary, they would be in the playoffs and the Dragons would be on the outside looking in once again.
That is most certainly not how it played out as the third place Tribe defeated the Monarchs 16-11, which clinched a playoff berth for Drexel.
The Dragons will now occupy the fourth and final playoff spot in the CAA playoffs despite having a conference record below .500. This will be the first time in the program’s history that Drexel has earned a CAA playoff berth.