Although it came as part of a weekend split, the Drexel women’s soccer team is back in the win column. The Dragons defeated Hofstra University 2-1 Oct. 13 following a 1-0 loss to Northeastern University two days before.
Drexel came out firing in the rain Oct. 11 against Northeastern, although the scoreboard did not reflect it and the teams went into halftime in a scoreless tie. Playing with energy, the Dragons had their share of scoring opportunities and outshot the Huskies 7-2 in the first 45 minutes.
Shortly after the resumption of play in the second half, Northeastern pulled in front. Hanna Terry brought the ball up the side of the field and connected with Lahaina Zoller. The Northeastern forward, who had come off the bench as a substitute, kicked the ball past a diving Eve Badana.
Badana made six saves in net throughout the game, while counterpart Paige Burnett secured seven saves to notch a clean sheet.
The win put Northeastern into a temporary tie for first place in the Colonial Athletic Association with The College of William & Mary, but the Huskies have since taken the lead. Drexel, meanwhile, was shut out for the fourth straight home game and the fifth straight game overall. Head coach Ray Goon witnessed yet another game where his Dragons could not catch a break.
“I feel we matched Northeastern’s energy, and we adapted well to the rain,” Goon said. “It was a very even match. As was the case with the previous week, the ball just didn’t bounce our way.”
The ball must have bounced a whole different way Sunday, as Drexel was able not only to score but also to break their five-game losing streak. The Dragons took down Hofstra 2-1 on the team’s annual Senior Day.
Before the game, Jess Sarkisian, Andi Stampone and Christine Stevenson were honored for their service with the program. They were set to play their final career regular-season game at Vidas Field, and the team gave them a positive home sendoff.
Drexel’s scoring drought nearly ended 15 minutes into the game when Megan Hammaker fired a shot at Emily Morphitis, which deflected off the Pride goalkeeper and then the crossbar. It was one of eight shots for the Dragons, who incredibly outshot Hofstra 8-0 through one half of play.
In the second half, Drexel — Hammaker specifically — finally broke through. After roughly 530 minutes of play without a goal, the junior put Drexel in front 1-0. It was the first Drexel goal scored at Vidas Field since Sept. 8.
The goal itself came after a corner kick from Stevenson, one of Drexel’s seniors. After a struggle for anyone to come up with the ball, Hammaker was able to get a shot off and put Drexel on the board. The Dragons had longed for a goal celebration, and now they finally had that chance.
“I think when I first scored, and I’m pretty sure game film will prove it, it was just all adrenaline and excitement,” Hammaker said. “Everyone was just yelling and screaming and jumping; I think we all really missed celebrating a goal.”
Their lead was short-lived, however, as just eight minutes later, Leah Galton knotted the game up with a goal for the Pride.
But just 63 seconds later, Drexel took the lead for good. Lauren Stollar scored the game winner for Drexel, and their five-game losing streak was history. With the victory, Drexel improved to 5-9-1 overall, and 1-4 in CAA play. Badana made six saves and the defense played tremendously, but this game was about ending the scoring drought.
Although the second game of the weekend featured much more success, Goon did not see much of a noticeable difference between the two games. He did, however, notice a difference between the two halves against Hofstra.
“I don’t know if there was a difference between the two games,” he said. “[There was the] same level of energy, focus and execution in both matches. But I can definitely say there was a difference between the first and second half of the Hofstra match that factored in the win.”
Goon described the game as “chippy,” as there were a total of 33 fouls and five yellow cards between the two teams. Both teams also had to deal with strong winds hovering over Vidas Field, which Goon said were a factor.
“I feel we did more going against the wind than Hofstra did,” he explained. “They had zero shots, while we generated shots and scoring opportunities playing without the benefit of the wind. I believe that was a big difference.”
Hammaker said the win came at a “crucial point,” as the team’s back was up against the wall.
“Our team has no doubt been working hard and playing good soccer, but we just haven’t gotten the results we felt we deserved,” she continued. “I also think that along with some added confidence, it gave us a more clear motivation. We’re all aware that we have to win out the rest of our games to have a shot at playoffs, and I think what we got most from this game was the feeling that we can still do this.”
Drexel now turns the page to its final stretch of the regular season. The Dragons have the benefit of focusing an entire week on the program’s rival, the University of Delaware. Goon’s squad will visit the Blue Hens Oct. 18 at 7 p.m. It will be their only game of the entire weekend, and the coming week for that matter.
Each team will come into the match in near-desperation mode. Each team is in the thick of the playoff picture, with the Blue Hens’ outlook being a bit more favorable, as they are one of four teams within a game of Drexel, having two conference wins.
“You really don’t need additional motivation when it comes to Drexel vs. Delaware,” Goon said. “But with both teams battling to stay alive in the playoff picture, it should be an extra lively bout.”