December 07, 2012 by Bryan Fyalkowski
Something has been lost in the disappointing 2-6 start for the Drexel men’s basketball team. Samme Givens graduated last year, and Chris Fouch is lost for the season, which sure has given us a lot to talk about in the midst of the team’s early-season struggles.
Still, we fully expect our Dragons to bounce back. As preseason Colonial Athletic Association favorites, they still have an opportunity to play well in the conference and make their “Revenge of the Dragon” journey a success.
But just for a second, let’s take a moment to recognize the unbelievable success of Drexel’s fall sports.
The field hockey team, led by Second Team All-American midfielder Amanda Fleischut, won its first-ever CAA Tournament and advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the second time in program history while finishing the season ranked No. 15 in the National Field Hockey Coaches Association coaches poll.
This isn’t some kind of 68-team NCAA Tournament field, either. It’s an opportunity reserved for only the top 16 teams in the nation. Seventeen-year veteran head coach Denise Zelenak has built the program into a national contender in recent years (that’s right, a national contender), and with just one senior on this year’s team, expect more of the same next season.
The crew team may not be a national contender quite yet, but it has without a question become one of the top teams in the region. Under the direction of head coach Paul Savell, the Dragons saw one of their best seasons ever on the rivers.
The team won three cups at the Rumson Boat Race, placed in the top five in eight events at the Navy Day Regatta, recorded a fourth-place finish at the Head of the Charles Regatta (in front of 300,000 spectators), clinched its third consecutive overall points trophy at the Head of the Schuylkill Regatta and won six gold medals at the Frostbite Regatta.
These were just results from the fall season, as the crew team will paddle out once again for the spring season beginning March 9. We may not need a bigger boat, but at that point we sure may need a bigger trophy case.
Before this season, the women’s soccer team didn’t even need a trophy case. In head coach Ray Goon’s entire 15-year tenure, the team’s best record was 7-11-1, and the team never finished better than ninth in the CAA. However, this season was a true breakthrough for the program.
The Dragons went 13-3-3 overall and finished second in the CAA with a 7-2-1 mark. The team ended up with a 30-13 goal differential and even strung together a nine-match unbeaten streak from Aug. 19 to Sept. 23. Unfortunately, the season ended in a heartbreaking shootout loss in the first round of the CAA Tournament, but nothing can be taken away from this team, which has turned the program in the right direction.
The star of the team would certainly be Eve Badana, a sophomore goalkeeper who only allowed 13 goals in 19 matches. The 19-year-old Badana has made four career appearances in goal for the Ireland national team, including most recently Nov. 28 and Dec. 1 against the United States national team. She even has her own Wikipedia page!
While you’re searching the Web for Badana, make sure to type “Drexel men’s soccer” in your browser and check out the magical season they had this fall. Under the direction of third-year coach Doug Hess, the team won its first-ever outright regular-season CAA title and advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1972 and the second time overall.
Although a loss in the first round of the NCAA Tournament ended their season, they are a team on the rise. After the team defeated the University of Pennsylvania for the first time since 1992, Hess said, “The guys on this team want to help change our history.” And that’s just what they, and the rest of the fall sports teams, have done.
For making this fall season one of the most memorable and historical in Drexel sports history, some congratulations are in order. Congratulations to coaches Zelenak, Savell, Goon and Hess, who have turned struggling programs into contenders. And congratulations to the student-athletes, who (in all sports, not just these select few) are some of the nicest people you will meet on campus.
In the months that are usually spent thinking about the beginning of basketball season, these four teams gave this University loads of excitement and a few CAA championships in the process.
Make sure to support all teams in the Drexel community. If you come to the DAC for men’s basketball games, that’s awesome, but just remember there are women’s basketball games in that same gym. And let’s be realistic, 43rd and Powelton isn’t that difficult to get to. This spring, please try to make the effort to get out to Vidas Athletic Complex for a lacrosse or softball game. The DAC Pack doesn’t have to be confined to the DAC.