Walking into the Oct. 31 matchup with Princeton University, the Drexel University men’s soccer team had the odds stacked against them. For much of the fall, head coach Doug Hess’s team seemed to be just a tick away from turning this year’s disappointing season into one to remember.
This trend has been especially evident of late — in which their last three appearances have resulted in 1-0 losses. The last included a tough-to-swallow 1-0 loss against the top-seated James Madison University Dukes. In this one, a familiar story played out, with goalkeeper Jacob Jordan offering an admirable effort in the face of opposing onslaught (Drexel was outshot 18-2 on the evening), without forcing the JMU keeper to make a single save.
Despite the many frustrations that had certainly built up over the course of the season, the night of Oct. 31 offered an opportunity for the Dragons to close out the 2017 campaign on their terms. To do so would require not only reversing the trend of play this season, but also surmounting the historical record against their opponent. Drexel travelled to Princeton in hopes of breaking a six game losing streak against the Tigers that stretched back to 2002.
Unfortunately, this Halloween night proved to offer a hauntingly similar storyline for this group. The first half featured a defensive struggle, as Drexel Jordan was once again under siege from the outset. He continued his strong play this season, one that has seen him lead the National Collegiate Athletic Association in saves by double digits, keeping the Tigers off the board in the half.
The offense for the Dragons was unable to do much in the first period, but showed some promise right after the break. A corner kick and header shot by Chris Carroll that had to be stopped by Princeton goalie Jacob Schachner were highlights in the early going of the second half, but the offense simply couldn’t maintain the threat necessary to take the pressure off of their back line.
As both teams entered the last 10 minutes of play, the game remained scoreless, but Princeton’s Bobby Hickson was finally able to beat Jordan in the 82nd minute to put the game (and Drexel’s season) on ice.
And just like that, when the final whistle pierced the evening air, Drexel saw its losing streak against their orange and black foes extend to seven games, and their scoreless streak continue for the fifth straight appearance.
All told, the men’s team ended their 2017 season 2-14-1, a record that was certainly not one that the Dragons were hoping for when the season began just a few short months ago. It also bookends a three year stretch in which the team has only managed to gather six wins in total, the least in the conference.
That said, even the most trying of eras can be conquered by the optimism with which a new season beckons. Having lost just six seniors this past season, it will be up to the underclassmen to dedicate themselves to working to turn their program around and usher in the start of a new and prosperous era in blue and gold.