Heading into the final two games of the season before the Colonial Athletic Association Tournament, coach Denise Zelenak and the Drexel University field hockey team will look to rebound after a tough loss at home Oct. 19 to the rival University of Delaware Blue Hens.
Drexel paid the price for missing chances in the game. The Dragons outshot the Blue Hens 16-10. Despite being outshot, Delaware was the first to break through thanks to a goal by Kelsey McKee off a corner in the 30th minute of the first half. McKee’s goal was the only one in a tightly contested first half.
However the Dragons, like they have shown all season long, fought until the final whistle. In the 54th minute, junior Lindsay McArdle scored the equalizer for the Dragons thanks to a great individual run in which she beat two defenders and the Blue Hens’ goalie.
Delaware responded quickly thanks to another McKee goal in the 60th minute. With 10 minutes remaining, Drexel kept up the pressure hoping that an equalizer would come.
As a result of the increased pressure and Delaware’s reluctance to play conservatively, the final 10 minutes of the game were back and forth. At the five-minute mark, senior captain Amanda Fleischut started a play that led to the Dragons scoring another equalizer. Fleischut sent a long pass to McArdle, who connected with junior Elise DiDonato inside the circle for the Dragons’ second goal of the game.
Immediately after the restart from DiDonato’s goal, Delaware crashed Drexel’s end and responded quickly thanks to a Michaela Patzner goal. The goal was scored 21 seconds after DiDonato’s game-tying goal.
With the game winding down, Zelenak looked to give Drexel an added advantage on the offensive end by substituting sophomore goalie Jantien Gunter for another attacker. However, the move didn’t pay off, as Delaware scored on a empty-net goal off the final corner of the game with no time left on the clock. The 4-2 loss to conference rivals moved Drexel to 11-6 on the year and 3-2 in the conference.
While Drexel slipped to 23rd in the coaches’ poll as a result of the loss, Zelenak doesn’t consider the loss to Delaware a setback but more of an opportunity.
“It was definitely disappointing when you outshoot someone and you don’t come away with the amount of goals you wanted to earn,” Zelenak said. “However, we are working harder now in practice to get back on the field and can’t wait for the Northeastern [University] game,” she continued.
With a crucial game coming up Oct. 26 against 10th-ranked Northeastern, Zelenak is looking for an increased mental effort from her team.
“Mental focus is something that, going into this weekend and postseason play, we need to manage at a higher level,” Zelenak said.
These next two games against a tough, ranked Northeastern and Hofstra University will determine not only the ranking of the Dragons headed into the CAA Tournament, but it will also be an indicator of whether this team is ready to challenge and win the CAA.