The next day, the Dragons traveled to Chapel Hill to take on the University of North Carolina Tar Heels. Drexel wrestled well for all three matches, and had it not been for an injury, they could have come away with a winning record for the weekend. None the less, the Dragons’ one win and two losses this weekend should not take away from the fact that each match displayed considerable improvement for each young wrestler and was well fought by all.
The first match Jan. 31 was against the Blue Devils. The match began with the big guns. Joey Goodhart went up against Brendan Walsh, for a matchup in the 285-pound weight class. Goodhart wrestled well and was able to win a solid 3-2 decision to give Drexel an early lead. Following the 285-pound Goodhart was Eric Ochoa weighing in at 125 pounds. Ochoa, unfortunately, would be unable to finish his match because of an elbow injury. This was now the second 125-pound Dragon to go down with an elbow injury, and all three wrestlers at 125 for Drexel were injured. The good news is Zack Fuentes, the Dragons starter at 125 pounds that began the season would be able to come back from his own elbow injury for the Dragon’s meet Feb. 1.
With a default by injury, the Blue Devils now owned a 6-3 lead. No. 16 ranked Kevin Devoy Jr. wrestled well, as he has done all season, and won a 13-3 major decision. At 141 pounds, David Pearce followed in Devoy’s footsteps winning yet another decision for the Dragons, by a score of 11-7. This gave Drexel a 10-6 advantage. Matthew Cimato, who has been wrestling well, unfortunately dropped the next match in a closely fought 5-4 decision. Noel Blanco picked up the slack winning his match by a 10-8 overtime victory, which pushed the Drexel lead out to 13-9.
The Dragons, however, were unable to record another victory in the meet and would lose by an overall team score of 24-13. The back end of the Dragon’s rotation consists of very skilled yet young wrestlers.
“There were [a] couple of mistakes but we are talking about a true freshman and a sophomore out there wrestling against a senior and a junior. They are making mistakes that young guys make,” Matt Azevedo, head coach, said.
In the Dragon’s next match against American University, it took some great efforts from both the young and experienced wrestlers in order to pull out the victory. The Dragons were able to beat Eagles, but by a very slim margin.
Goodhart again started off the match in the 285-pound division. He earned an important win by way of a 2-0 decision. Drexel was forced to forfeit their next match since Eric Ochoa had been injured in the previous match. The forfeit gave the Eagle’s a 6-3 lead. Devoy immediately tied the match by winning an important 3-1 decision.
Pearce won his match in the 141-pound weight class by way of a pin. The overall team score was now completely in Drexel’s favor at 12-6. As we have seen in the past, wrestling is a sport that can see a lead change multiple times in just a few minutes. Cimato and Blanco both lost tough matches, tying the score again, this time at 12-12.
The match came down to the young bloods at the bottom of the rotation. Redshirt freshman Nick Elmer and freshman Stephen Loiseau both won their respective matches by way of a 10-3 and 6-1 decision, respectively. Both of these wins from the freshmen were huge as the Dragons dropped their last two matches, which would tie the score again at 18 all.
The 19th point for Drexel came from technicalities, as the Dragon’s won the criteria. This match was an incredible win because with the match against Duke, the young wrestlers could have been to blame for being unable to record a win. In this match, two young freshmen won huge matches, giving Drexel the chance to win.
In the final match of the weekend, the Dragons were back to full strength as Fuentes was able to come back from an elbow injury and wrestle against North Carolina in the 125-weight class. Fuentes fought hard and won by way of a 5-2 decision. Ranked as the 16th best wrestler in the 133-pound weight class, Devoy was able to continue his stellar season with another win, which came by a majority decision of 11-0.
Pearce and Cimato dropped both of their matches, trying their best but unable to win the decision. Blanco brought Drexel back the lead in the 157-pound match, with a 3-1 win in overtime. The Dragons would drop two more matches in a row, putting the team score at 16-10 Tar Heels. Alex DeCiantis won his 184-pound match to give the Dragons a fighting shot to come back, however, Drexel unfortunately could not pull out wins in the final two weight classes.
The final team scores for this match ended at 22-13 North Carolina. Drexel’s record after this weekend fell to 6-9, but their conference record was increased to 3-1 after the win against American University. The Dragons displayed some great fortitude, and even the young wrestlers made an impact in the higher weight classes.
Drexel will face Rider University Friday, Feb. 6. Coach Azevedo knows that Rider is a very tough team but believes his guys have been battle tested and are ready to go. It will definitely be a great match up, one in which the Dragons have a great chance at winning.