The Drexel University wrestling team picked up both a win and a loss this past week when they travelled south of Philadelphia to take on two opponents from the Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association. The Dragons lost 25-14 last Friday night to the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, but they were able to follow up the defeat with a thrilling 21-16 come-from-behind victory last Sunday over American University.
The Dragons headed into their dual in Annapolis, Maryland against Navy at 7 p.m. Jan. 15 looking to both acquire their first conference win and to improve their 3-5 record. That proved to be a difficult task against a Navy squad that entered the dual at 5-1.
Competing in the 125-pound weight division, redshirt sophomore Zack Fuentes put the Dragons on the board first. Fuentes’ 5-2 decision gave Drexel a 3-0 lead to start the dual. However, after redshirt senior Franco Ferraina was pinned in the 133-pound weight division match, and redshirt junior Kevin Devoy Jr. lost a 5-3 decision in the 141-pound weight division match, the Dragons found themselves trailing the Midshipmen 9-3.
Drexel needed a strong performance from redshirt junior Matthew Cimato to keep them in contention. Cimato, who entered the week ranked the 13th best 149-pound weight division wrestler in the nation, delivered with an 8-0 major victory that cut the Dragon’s deficit in the dual to two points.
After Redshirt freshman Richard Viruet lost a 3-2 decision in the 157-pound weight division match, Drexel trailed Navy 12-7. The Dragons would get another clutch performance, this time from redshirt sophomore Austin Rose. Competing in the 165-pound weight division, Rose scored a 10-2 major decision, making the dual score 12-11 in favor of Navy.
The Dragons were able to stick around in the dual until sophomore Jadaen Bernstein and senior Matthew Miller took the mat in back-to-back matches for the Midshipmen. Bernstein entered the day ranked 18th in the nation among 174-pound weight division fighters. In his match against redshirt freshman Nick Elmer, Bernstein won on a 15-5 technical fall. Miller came into the day ranked 15th in the nation among 184-pound weight division fighters. Once Miller pinned Drexel sophomore Stephen Loiseau in their match, the Midshipmen took a commanding 22-11 lead over the Dragon’s.
In the 197-pound weight division fight, redshirt freshman Nezar Haddad lost a 9-4 decision. In the 285-pound weight division, sophomore Joey Goodhart won on a 6-4 decision, making the final score of the dual 25-14 in favor of Navy. The loss dropped the Dragons to 3-6 on the season, and 0-2 in conference matches.
Looking to rebound from their loss to Navy, and still trying to pick-up their first victory against an EIWA opponent, Drexel traveled to Washington, D.C. Jan. 17 for a dual against American University. Things were not looking pretty for the Dragons early on. In the first three matches of the dual, Fuentes got pinned, Ferraina lost a 9-5 decision, and Devoy Jr. lost a 4-3 decision in overtime. In the blink of an eye, the Dragons found themselves trailing the Eagles 12-0.
Once again, Drexel needed a solid performance from Cimato to keep them in contention. Coming through yet again for the Dragons, Cimato earned a victory by a 14-1 major decision, which cut American’s lead to 12-4. The victory gave Cimato’s his 23rd win on the season, and it improved his record in dual competitions this year to 10-0.
Redshirt sophomore Ryan O’Connor followed Cimato and competed in the 157-pound weight division match. O’Connor was defeated in a 13-4 major decision, and his loss made the dual score 16-4 in favor of the Eagles. Time was running out for the Dragons as they trailed the Eagles by 12 points with just five matches remaining in the dual.
Just when it seemed all hope for a victory in the dual was lost, the Dragons turned on the jets. Austin Rose followed up O’Connor’s loss with an 11-4 victory by decision in the 165-pound weight division. Rose’s win seemingly ignited a flame for the Dragons. Nick Elmer capitalized on the momentum sparked by Rose with a 5-4 victory by decision in the 175-pound weight division, and for the first time during the dual, Drexel managed to win back-to-back matches.
The winning streak continued when Stephen Loiseau won the 184-pound weight division match by a 15-0 technical fall. American’s once daunting lead had been diminished to just one point, and with two matches remaining in the dual, the Dragons trailed the Eagles by a score of 16-15.
Competing in the 197-pound weight division match, Haddad had a chance to give the Dragons their first lead of the day. The redshirt freshman came up huge for the Drexel as he earned an 8-6 victory by decision and gave the Dragons an 18-16 lead over the Eagles.
With one match remaining on the on the day, the fate of the Dragons was in the hands of Joey Goodhart. Competing in the heavyweight match, Goodhart was able to seal the deal for Drexel by earning a 2-0 victory by decision, which made the final score of the dual 21-16 in favor of the Dragons.
With the victory over American, Drexel improved its record to 4-6 on the season, and 1 and 2 in the conference. Next up on the schedule for the Dragons is Binghamton University. Drexel is set for a dual against Binghamton at 7 p.m. Jan. 22 at the Daskalakis Athletic Center. The matchup will be Drexel’s first home dual of the season.