It was a historic start to the season for the women’s soccer team. Following a 1-0 victory over Temple University Sept. 14, the Dragons are off to their best start in program history, notching another win to move to 6-1-1.
The Dragons got the win via their fifth shutout of the season, and four of them have been by the slimmest of margins, 1-0 scores. It is the second straight game of that result against a Big 5 school, following a Sept. 9 win over the University of Pennsylvania.
Eve Badana recorded her second consecutive shutout as well, stopping all four shots she faced. Badana is now tied with Caroline Casey of The College of William & Mary for most shutouts in the Colonial Athletic Association with four.
The scoreless tie was broken in the 72nd minute on Sam Greenfield’s second goal of the year. Christine Stevenson assisted on it, setting up the goal for her fellow team captain by lofting the ball for the top of the net. Greenfield then one-timed in past an Owl defender, and the Dragons found themselves with the lead. Both of the midfielder’s goals this season have been game-winners, the other against the University of Hawaii at Hilo Sept. 2.
The effort earned Greenfield Co-CLEAR Athlete of the Week honors.
“Being a city rival, we knew it would be a highly contested game, and they are especially tough when they play at home,” head coach Ray Goon said. “Except for a portion at the beginning of the second half, I think we controlled most of the game, and that pressure eventually paid off with a great finish from Sam Greenfield.”
To Goon, the shutouts are not the goal heading into each matchup but are an indication of solid team play.
“I believe the shutouts are a byproduct of our efforts as a team thus far,” Goon said. “It’s not necessarily our goal to shut teams out, but we know we’re doing things right on the field if the opponents have a zero in the goal column at the end of the game.”
A key to the solid defense, for Goon, has been midfielder Jourdan Halasz, whom he refers to as their “maestro.” The captain has been the leader on Drexel’s defensive end.
“She directs us in our defensive third, keeps us organized and orchestrates our attack when we win the ball back there,” Goon said. “She’s a veteran player with a ton of experience, but more importantly she has great passion for the game.”
The Dragons have allowed the second-fewest number of goals in the CAA, yielding only six, one more than William & Mary. They have been disciplined as a group, and the offense has supported the defense by maintaining ball possession, according to Goon.
Halasz pointed to the hard work the team has put forth on the defensive end and just playing well together as a unit.
“As Coach reminds us, defense is all about hard work, and as a team we are defending well together,” Halasz said. “We have been communicating well and playing smart in the back. The forwards have done a great job to put high pressure on the other team’s backs, and our midfielders have matched that effort and have been winning a lot of 50-50 balls.”
Since dropping the season opener, Drexel has rattled off six wins in the last seven games. They will enter their next game with a seven-game unbeaten streak, having gone 6-0-1 during that time. They will bring their hot play into the CAA portion of the schedule.
Starting this weekend, Drexel will begin its conference schedule with the first of 10 CAA matchups. It is the time of the season to which the players and coaches look forward, with each game extra important to get them closer to the playoffs.
“Conference [play] is what we all look forward to,” Halasz said. ”Everything that we have done prior is to prepare us for these games. I am very excited for conference play to begin and show the CAA who we are this year!”
They will kick it off with their first CAA game on Friday, Sept. 21, when George Mason University visits Vidas Field at 7 p.m.
Drexel went 4-4-3 against the CAA last season, including a road 2-1 victory against George Mason.
“Friday night is going to be a battle,” Halasz said. “It is our first conference game, and George Mason will want some revenge from last year. If we play our game, I have no doubts that we will get a result.”
As Goon pointed out, it really is like a second season, the beginning of conference play. They will now have to maintain their first-place standing in the conference against the teams below them, which they are ready to do.
“Our team has worked hard and diligently for this portion of the season. They’re excited and ready for the challenge,” Goon said.