“It was a defining moment for our program,” head coach Anna Marie Vesco said. “It’s probably the best win that our program has ever seen in its history. It’s a confidence boost for all the kids.”
The game was the first of the Quakers’ season, and they dropped to No. 18 after the 11-8 upset win by the Dragons. Meanwhile the Dragons are receiving votes in national poll but have yet to crack the top 20.
“We’re using that as some motivation,” Vesco said in regard to not being ranked in the top 20. “We’re like, ‘We’re not getting any love here; let’s show everybody.’ The girls are on board with that, like ‘OK, we’ll just take a couple more down,’ and hopefully we move up on the list.”
The Dragons got on the board early with a goal by junior attack Kelly Palace, her first of three goals in the game. Penn answered with two goals, which would be the only first-half goals for the Quakers. Drexel then scored four unanswered goals to close out the first half. Palace scored the final goal of the half, unassisted, and on the main advantage.
The Dragons have outscored their opponents by a big margin in the first half this season. They have outscored their opponents 16-8.
By holding the Quakers to just two goals in the half, it marked the second time this season that the Dragons held an opponent to two goals in a half.
Penn came out in the second half firing on all cylinders, scoring two goals in the first five minutes of the half. The goals brought the Quakers within one, but then senior midfielder Kelli Joran scored the first of her three goals. Penn answered with a goal of their own to make it 6-5, bringing them again within one goal. Joran answered with two goals to widen the Dragons’ lead and complete her third hat trick in as many games. Palace added another goal for Drexel to complete a hat trick of her own and widen the Dragons’ lead to 9-5. The Quakers tried to mount a comeback, bringing them within one goal for the third time in the half, but the Dragons scored two goals in the final two minutes to seal the win.
Vesco thought that the win was great at this point of the season, but it also means something that they controlled the game from start to finish.
“I believe that we dominated pretty much,” Vesco said. “We controlled the game and controlled the pace. I loved to see all of the enthusiasm that that generated for us.”
For the third time in a row, the Dragons had two players with hat tricks in a game. Vesco isn’t surprised by the production of her team; she knows how dangerous her offense is. Senior attack Alyse Maiden has also had a stellar season, notching four goals and four assists in just three games.
“Alyse [Maiden] and Kelli Joran have been playing since freshman year and starting since freshman year,” Vesco said. “We expect them to do that every game basically. I know they’re going to get keyed on by other teams’ best defenders, [and] that’s what happened in the last game [with Maiden].”
Drexel will take on crosstown rival Saint Joseph’s University March 1. The Hawks are also undefeated, but they haven’t played any ranked teams this season. They will then face Villanova University March 6 to close out games against Philadelphia teams. Being West Philadelphia champions isn’t enough for the team. They are looking to be atop the city after the game against Villanova.
“We’d love to be on top of the city and have bragging rights,” Vesco said.