Coming off a breakthrough victory, one that saw them snap a 530-minute scoreless streak, the Dragons were looking to build some late-season momentum and make a charge at the postseason. They won the game against Hofstra University after receiving their first goal from Megan Hammaker, who had initially found the crossbar in the first half of the game.
In the opening minutes of the match against Delaware, Hammaker found herself an early scoring opportunity, but again she found the post instead. It was one of five shots Drexel got off in the opening half of a game that saw the two teams in a scoreless tie at halftime, just like the Hofstra game.
But it would not be deja vu for Drexel or for Hammaker, as they were held scoreless.
It was the Blue Hens who came out firing, getting off four shots in the first 15 minutes of the second half, the fourth of which found its way past Dragons goalkeeper Eve Badana. The goal was created when Emily Market found Chelsea Duffy, who slipped it into the right side of the net.
That would be the only goal Badana allowed all game, but it was enough to do Drexel in. The Dragons only managed two shots on goal in the second half, only one of which came after the goal was scored to put them behind.
It marked the eighth time in the last 10 games that Drexel lost, and each of those eight losses have seen the Dragons fail to score a goal.
Though Drexel had struggled in many games leading up to this one, head coach Ray Goon had always praised his players for the effort and play. After this game, though, he admitted that the effort was “not as complete.”
“Overall, I don’t believe we played as well against Delaware as we did the previous three or four games,” he said. “We were more inconsistent against Delaware. We had some really good moments and stretches, but our overall effort was not as complete and it cost us a desirable result.”
But, to be fair to Delaware, he thought they gave the Dragons a taller task than the Pride. The Blue Hens did a sensational job of containing Drexel, thus limiting the shots.
“I felt that Delaware played better against us than Hofstra did,” Goon explained. “They had us under a little more pressure, and we had to defend more, which probably led to us not being able to get into our offense as much like we did against Hofstra.”
With the loss, Drexel now stands at 1-5 in the CAA and 5-10-1 overall. Their conference record has them looking up to everyone except the College of Charleston, which just joined the conference few months ago. It also ensured that Drexel would not be able to pass Delaware in the standings.
To win the CAA playoffs, the six best teams compete in the conference tournament at the end of the season. There are currently five teams — James Madison University, The College of William & Mary, Northeastern University, Hofstra, and Delaware — who the Dragons can’t catch.
That means if the Dragons are to play in any type of postseason, they would need to secure the sixth and final seed, which is currently held by the University of North Carolina Wilmington with a 3-3 record.
Drexel is, of course, not having the season it dreamed of having, coming off a year as the No. 2 seed in the CAA playoffs. There is obvious disappointment that comes attached to a season in which they have been shut out in 10 of their 16 games. But still, the players are staying positive.
“Going into the final weekend of regular season, there is the obvious disappointment of not being in control of our own playoff chances,” Goon said. “But our players are still upbeat because we can still make the playoffs.”
One break Drexel may have caught this season is scheduling. For the mission ahead of needing to catch the sixth seed, they get to face the team that holds the sixth seed, UNCW, and the team that has yet to beat anyone in the conference, the College of Charleston.
UNCW, meanwhile, in addition to having to play Drexel, will wrap its regular season and CAA schedule with Delaware.
A win over UNCW would give Drexel the tiebreaking edge, as the Dragons would also have to win their final game against Charleston and see UNCW lose against Delaware.
The big game against the Seahawks will begin Oct. 25 at 7 p.m. in Wilmington, N.C., with the Dragons’ backs firmly against the wall. Then, the Oct. 27 tilt with Charleston will take place at 1 p.m.
The Dragons will go into each of those games with the same attitude that they have had all season and let the other scenarios play themselves out.
“Regardless of the scenarios that need to unfold for us to make the playoffs, we still need to go into every game with the same approach: to play to the best of our abilities individually and as a team,” Goon said. “We need to take care of our own business and let the soccer gods decide if we get the opportunity to extend the season.”