The Drexel University Wrestling team was back in action Jan. 16. They finally found themselves wrestling in familiar territory, as it was their first match back in the Daskalakis Athletic Center since Dec. 13. Unfortunately the Dragons were unable to come away with a home victory, losing to their opponent, Lock Haven University, 18-15. The Dragons wrestled hard but could not win the one match they needed to pull out the victory.
The 125-pound match tends to be vital for the team, and when Tanner Shoap is able to get a victory in that first match more times than not, the tone for the entire match is set and a Drexel victory is imminent. In this match Shoap was unable to give the Dragons that tone-setting start. He did wrestle hard, but lost in a 9-2 decision. This gave Lock Haven a 3-0 lead, but that lead was in jeopardy because Drexel sent Kevin Devoy Jr. to the mat for the 133-pound match.
Devoy, now ranked No. 16 in his weight class, went down 2-0 but found his ground and pulled off a reversal to tie the score. Lock Haven opponent, Ronnie Perry, pulled off an escape, which gave him a 3-2 lead. During the last leg of the match Devoy scored a take down with 30 seconds remaining to gain two points, giving him a 4-3 lead. The match ended with Devoy taking the victory and tying the overall team score at 3-3.
David Pearce wrestled next in the 141-pound division, and he was tough in the match, especially during the final portion, but he was unable to beat his opponent, falling in a 6-3 decision. In the 149-pound division, Matthew Cimato was in the lead for most of his match, however, his opponent was able to score four unanswered points by way of an escape and takedown. Cimato lost this match in a 4-1 decision, which gave Lock Haven a 9-3 lead.
Moving up the weight classes, Noel Blanco wrestled next in the 157-pound division. Blanco and his opponent, Elias Biddle, both wrestled evenly, scoring zero points each heading into the final period of the match. Biddle scored two points in the final period, but Blanco responded with a takedown to even the score at two. Both wrestlers fought hard in the match, however, Biddle came out on top after scoring a take down and Blanco only able to respond with one more point. He lost this match 4-3, and the Lock Haven team lead increased again to 15-3.
In the 165-pound match Nick Elmer dropped his match in a 5-1 decision, and the Dragons were now in a hole they would need to win each of their next match in order to tie Lock Haven’s overall score.
The attempt at tying the score started off well as the Dragons went on to win in the 174- and 184-weight divisions. Stephen Loiseau and Jason Fugiel each wrestled hard and both recorded clutch wins, which gave Drexel a fighting chance to tie the overall team scores.
Brandon Litten unfortunately was unable to win his match in the 197-pound division. A win here would have tied the match, but Litten lost his match by just one point in a 3-2 decision. The 285-pound division ended the match, and Joey Goodhart won in a 3-1 decision to make the final overall team score 18-15, Lock Haven.
Although it was a tough match to lose, the Dragons showed resilience as they attempted to come back from a large deficit of 15-3. Close matches are extremely tough to loose, however, the Dragons should be proud of the way they fought. Even when it looked like Lock Haven had easily won, the Dragons stormed right back to close the gap. Next time, the Dragons will no doubt finish the job.
Drexel now holds a record of 4-6, however, the big matches are around the corner. The Dragons will face divisional foe Binghamton University Jan. 23 in Binghamton, New York. Then on Sunday, Jan. 25, the Dragons will face another divisional foe in Army, which will be in West Point, New York. After this New York trip, the Dragons will again be traveling around the east coast, and they won’t wrestle in the Daskalakis Athletic Center until Feb. 13. The Dragons will also need to be prepared for five of their next eight opponents being divisional rivals.
“Although it is more comfortable to wrestle at home, we [have to] focus more on scouting our opponent,” Matt Azevedo, head coach, said about the upcoming stretch of away games.
It will definitely be important for the coaching staff and wrestlers to scout the opponents. The best way to get an advantage is to watch for your opponent’s disadvantages, and there is no doubt the Dragons will be looking to exploit every weakness they find.