The Dragons started the season Feb. 16 in the nation’s capital, where they defeated George Washington University 10-3. The Dragons were fueled by longtime starters and prolific scoring duo Alyse Maiden and Kelli Joran. The two seniors accounted for six of the goals, with each picking up a hat trick.
Jessica Rudloff was among the four other goal scorers, picking up an assist as well. The attack got the scoring started early and got the season off on the right foot with a goal just 53 seconds into the game.
GWU would tie it, but a few minutes later Joran added the first goal of her senior season. From there, Drexel never lost the lead. They outscored GWU 6-1 in the second half of the contest.
Teresha Bradley, the sophomore goalie, had the best game of her career. The goalkeeper position was a question mark going into the season, as there was a competition between Bradley and Carlee Reis, a freshman recruit. Bradley has impressed head coach Anna Marie Vesco, who called her goalie a “rock.”
“Teresha has stepped into a new role of being the lead goalie this year,” Vesco said. “She has been a calming force for the defense by being composed and reliable. And it doesn’t hurt that she is making some stellar saves.”
Bradley and the Dragons returned to University City Feb. 20 and won their home opener against La Salle University 12-6. Once again they wasted no time, with Joran scoring her first goal 47 seconds into the game.
Joran recorded another hat trick for six goals in two games. She and Maiden, among others, have been clicking and creating good shots for each other with tremendous passes.
“We have conveyed to our attack that there is no defense for the perfect pass,” Vesco said. “So Alyse and Kelli are taking that to heart. They are taking some risk to thread the needle and are making great connections, and it’s paying off.”
On the scoring sheet, Joran was joined by Kelly Palace, who also achieved the three-goal feat. Amanda Norcini and Emily Duffey each had a pair of goals as well.
Once again, Bradley was impressive in the net, making a career-high seven saves. Vesco said she was impressed with Bradley and the effort by the entire collective defensive unit.
Another area in which Drexel has been stellar is controlling the draws. The Dragons won 80 percent of faceoffs in each of the first two games.
“Draw possession is key to the success of our team. It helps us dictate the pace of the game,” Vesco said. “As our center, Kristin Kopenhaver has shown she can place the draw wherever she likes. She often looks to go to Kelli Joran. The two of them have a nice connection.”
The Dragons will turn their attention to the University of Pennsylvania Quakers as they look to continue their hot start while also going through the Big 5 portion of the schedule. The neighboring universities will face off Feb. 23 at Franklin Field. The game will be the season opener for Penn.
Vesco and the team are not getting too confident following their two big wins because they know how challenging Penn can be. An odd trend is that Drexel’s first loss of the season for the past six seasons has come against Penn. In five of the previous six seasons they raced out to a 2-0 start and lost the third game to Penn. The exception was 2010, when they started 4-0 and lost the fifth game of the season to Penn.
“Penn traditionally has been a powerhouse program,” she said. “We are excited to see how our team stacks up.”
Vesco and Drexel will look to reverse the trend at 1 p.m. Saturday.