February 28, 2014 by Billy Bauer
The Drexel men’s lacrosse team topped University at Albany, State University of New York, the No. 11 team in the country, Feb. 22 on the road.
The Dragons started off extremely well, with goals by senior attacker Nick Trizano and junior midfielder Ryan Belka to put them up 2-0. Albany’s seventh-ranked offense couldn’t be contained for long, as Ty Thompson and Riley Lasda scored two quick goals to end the first quarter tied 2-2. The second quarter followed suit, with the Dragons and Great Danes exchanging goals to the tune of a 3-3 score in the quarter and a 5-5 draw at halftime.
Unlike the game against University of Virginia, the Dragons came out of the locker room firing, with two goals from senior midfielder Ben McIntosh and an additional score by sophomore Jules Raucci to take a three-goal lead.
But the Great Danes kept responding, ending the quarter with a 4-0 run over an eight minute stretch to recapture the lead and take a one-goal advantage into the final period. After an additional goal from Albany midfielder Tim Cox stretched the lead to two goals, the game appeared to be virtually out of reach at 10-8.
The momentum shifted, however, on a penalty against Albany’s John Maloney. Senior attacker Jared Boudreau was quick to capitalize with an assist from redshirt freshman attacker Cole Shafer.
From that moment until about two minutes remained in the game the Dragons overpowered Albany, scoring five of the last seven goals of the game. But with two minutes remaining, Albany tried to fight back. The Danes scored with 1:45 left in the game to draw within one, turning the pressure back up.
Albany fired furiously, but every shot was turned away by the impressive goalie play of sophomore Will Gabrielsen. Though his play has sometimes been turbulent during his time starting for the Dragons, he came up huge in the biggest moments of this game against a top-flight offense.
Though head coach Brian Voelker had intended to play both Gabrielsen and Cal Winkelman for half of the game, that plan changed when he saw Gabrielsen’s play in the first half of the game.
“We planned to have the same rotation as the Virginia game, but Gabrielsen was playing so well in the first half that I couldn’t bring him out,” he said, before disclosing that he planned to reinstate the rotation system against Villanova University.
McIntosh himself had a huge game, scoring four goals on nine shots and also collecting four ground balls. Most importantly, McIntosh came through when it mattered the most, scoring goals with five and two minutes remaining in the final quarter. Additionally, Shafer might have only scored one goal in the game, but he came up huge otherwise with five assists, including one on a McIntosh goal late in the game.
In their next game Feb. 25, the Dragons suffered a heartbreaking overtime loss at the hands of the Villanova University Wildcats, 11-10.
The team once again started out strong, jumping out to a 3-0 lead following a goal from sophomore Frank Fusco with eight minutes remaining in the first quarter. Villanova responded shortly thereafter, reeling off three goals of its own and tying the game with two minutes left to play in the quarter. But Raucci and Shafer scored two goals in quick succession to end the quarter, giving Drexel a 5-3 lead.
The second quarter was a tightly contested one with offense at a premium, as the entire quarter only netted one goal for either team: a Kevin O’Neil goal for Villanova to cut the lead to one.
Midway through the game it was clear Gabrielsen was once again playing marvelously in net, which earned him his place in the lineup for the remainder of the game. It seems that if Gabrielsen keeps playing at such a high level, he might earn himself a full-time job at a position that the Dragons have been searching for consistency in for years.
The third quarter started well, with a goal from Belka to put the team up by two before Kevin O’Neil tied the game up with two quick goals of his own. A man-up opportunity following a penalty on Villanova’s Christian Kolderup allowed sophomore midfielder Jordan Cunningham to put the Dragons up by one goal. Villanova went on to tie the game again, but Belka scored a goal for the Dragons with 39 seconds remaining in the quarter to put the Dragons on top by one.
Early in the fourth quarter, the Wildcats tied the game up at 8-8 on a goal by Austin Frederick. McIntosh once again came up huge, scoring two goals to give the Dragons a two-goal advantage with 7:38 to play. But the end of the game once again proved problematic as they allowed two goals, tying the game at 10 and sending the contest into overtime.
The Dragons played well and got their own chances in the overtime, but Villanova’s defense stopped them from scoring, and a goal by Austin Frederick with 54 seconds remaining in the overtime gave Villanova the victory.
This loss should almost certainly be taken with a grain of salt, as the Dragons were playing their second game in three days and Villanova had a nine-day break since its last competition. This type of rest is key in tightly-contested games and particularly in games that extend into overtime.
The Dragons are now 1-2, with each of their games having been decided by a single goal. Drexel’s next game is March 1 at Vidas Field against Robert Morris University.