March 12, 2014 by Billy Bauer
The Drexel men’s lacrosse team fell in a big way to the Bryant University Bulldogs in the sixth game of the Dragons’ season March 8, losing 12-6. With the loss, the team fell to 3-3 overall.
Drexel entered the game on a hot streak following big victories against Robert Morris University and St. John’s University in the week prior, but the streak came to a screeching halt in large part because of a lopsided third quarter, when Bryant pulled away for good.
The Dragons came out of the gates looking shaky and were immediately unable to find momentum on offense. They quickly fell behind 3-0 and it took the team over 10 minutes to get its first goal, which came from senior attacker Nick Trizano on a man-up opportunity.
The second quarter was much more productive for the Dragons and their powerful offense. On Drexel’s second man-up opportunity of the game, senior midfielder Ben McIntosh netted a goal with an assist from redshirt freshman attacker Cole Shafer to start the quarter. Despite two goals from Bryant in the quarter, the tide of the game seemed to be shifting. The Dragons were possessing the ball more and getting more opportunities, and they were able to score four goals in the quarter to go into halftime tied 5-5.
Again, sophomore goalie Will Gabrielsen played very well in the first half of the game, earning him the right to play the remainder of the contest. He had seven saves in the first half, while only allowing five goals. He most likely will continue to be the go-to guy for head coach Brian Voelker if he keeps playing so strongly.
The second half started with a Bryant goal to put them up by one. McIntosh quickly responded to bring the game back to even but from there it was all downhill for Drexel.
Bryant ended the game on a 6-0 run that lasted the final 22 minutes of the game. The Dragons couldn’t possess the ball, allowing Bryant to take 20 shots in the second half while they only managed to get 12 shots of their own.
The third quarter was the biggest problem in this game, where the Dragons were outscored 5-1. What was the most staggering statistic of that third quarter? That Gabrielsen made five saves in the quarter and Bryant still managed to net five goals.
The one-sidedness of the half is something this Drexel team is unfamiliar with in the early portion of this season. Most of their contests have been competitive, but this one simply got away from them.
McIntosh was a bright spot on offense, as he netted three goals and added an assist, taking 11 shots total. Trizano also managed to score two goals, but otherwise the team was lacking offensively. Shafer in particular had a quiet game, only assisting on a single goal and being held without a goal. Coming into the game, he was averaging over three goals and two assists per game. This was mostly a result of a strong defensive effort by the Bulldogs, holding him to only five shots, his second-lowest shot count of the season.
This game was obviously troublesome for the Dragons, a team that depends on its offense to succeed. When the offense performs this poorly, the pressure gets placed on the other side of the ball, which has been the weak spot for the Dragons over the past few years. Voelker said that a major problem in the game was the effort the team put forth.
“They just played harder than us all around,” he said. “We were sloppy with the ball, took bad shots that ruined times where we had some opportunities. We had a lot of chances that were ruined by bad passing and poorly placed shots.”
Nick Saputo did his best to give the Dragons the ball as often as possible, winning 14 of the possible 22 faceoffs in the game and continuing his run as one of the best faceoff winners in the country. In fact, Saputo came into this game ranked 14th in the country in faceoff win percentage with just over a 60 percent success rate, he now sits at sixth with a 64 percent mark.
On the Bryant side, freshman attacker Tucker James had a huge role in the Bulldogs’ victory, scoring four goals on six shots, while adding two assists and four groundballs to pad the lead. Coming into the game, he had only scored three goals on the season but used this game as a coming out party, of sorts.
A main factor in Drexel’s struggles on offense was Bryant’s defense stopping the Dragons from moving the ball around the net. This caused the offense to be less based on ball movement and more based on individual effort, mostly coming from McIntosh.
McIntosh is a great player, but it is difficult to win any game when the opposing team stops ball movement that leads to high percentage shots. The Dragons got their shots off, shooting 38 times in the game, but they weren’t high percentage chances, which meant they were either easy to save or simply missed the net completely.
Voelker plans to go into the break between games encouraging hard work, allowing players to earn their spots on the team.
“There are some players that haven’t been playing very hard out there, and this week is a try-out week where someone new can earn a spot on the team,” Voelker said.
The Dragons hope to rebound from the loss when they travel to Mount St. Mary’s University March 15.