2015 Drexel Defensive Preview 

It’s officially Virginia week, and to kick off the season we wanted to look ahead to what the Dragon’s defense should look like for the 2015 season. After an accomplished 2014 campaign, Junior Will Gabrielson will come back as the starting goaltender with Loyola transfer, Jimmy Joe Granito, and Junior Cal Winkelman fighting for the back-up spot. With a large amount of depth at this position, the two backups will push Will to compete all year long to keep his starting role.

Close defense will have the biggest shoes to fill from 2014 after departures from Matt Dusek and Tyler Houchins. This year’s replacements will not only have to account for their defensive production, but also the strong leadership role they both played on and off the field. Paul Harrison has seen a lot of time in years past in the man down role and should see significant time increase at close defense. His natural leadership skills should help gel the entire unit together as they learn to play together as a new unit. Miles Thomas, Markell Nelson, and Jake Kiernan all saw significant time at the close D spot last year and should continue that trend this year. Kiernan is a long lefty that loves to intercept lazy passes around the outside with his extended reach. Both Miles and Markell have flexed to the long pole midfield position and close defense depending on matchup needs. Miles is a great athlete with an endless bag of checks that will often cover the opponents best no matter the position. Markell Nellson saw most of his time at long stick midfield last year, but the Canadian’s big size and strength is favorable down low to coaches. The four close defenseman will be seen in a rotation of depth often this season.

Up top, the majority of defenders are returning to action after seeing a lot of time in the past. Junior Pat Root and Sophomore Jake Gennosa saw their fair share of action at the long pole position and will continue to hold that spot down. Both defenders are great on the wings and in ground ball situations to in turn push the ball down the field for quick offense. Junior Chris Panichelli has impressed the coaches a lot this preseason and should provide a lot of depth at both long pole and close defense. The short stick defensive midfielders only saw one loss from last year’s group in Jason Klunder and have added some depth since then. The group is led by juniors Jordan Klunder and Mason Pynn after seeing a significant role on last year’s team. Senior Matt Clark, Juniors Jordan Cunningham and Hank Brown, and sophomore Brendan Fabian bring a load of depth rarely seen at this position. Cunningham and Brown, originally offensive midfielders, will show a two way mentality and push early offense after defensive stops. Overall the short stick group is a very athletic bunch that can match-up with anyone all over the field.

After a strong recruiting class from Coach Voelker and company, there are a few freshman pushing for early time. The coaching staff has been very impressed with defenseman Michael Meurer and Jude Whalen. Meurer is more of a close defenseman, while Whalen prefers playing up top. Both of them will bring added depth, and will push to get playing time as their experience grows. Short stick defensive midfielder Kyle Strang has proven his ability to the coaching staff and will hope to add a youthful exuberance to an already experienced group.

Overall this group is young in name, but already one of the most experienced in memory. Each one of them has seen significant minutes in very meaningful games after last year’s deep playoff run. No game on the schedule this year will frighten a talented, experienced group that is excited to make their mark on 2015. 

2015 Drexel Offensive Preview 

The Drexel offense embarks on the 2015 season knowing that they have to replace their top 2 scores and their offensive coordinator.  Gone are Ben McIntosh and Nick Trizano and the amazing 120 points they amassed together last season.  Throw in the 5th leading scorer from last season in Jared Boudreau and this unit will need to replace 152 points.  That said, this unit has top end talent coming back and the two scrimmages have shown that there seems to be plenty of depth and options for new coordinator Steven Boyle to work with.  Coming off such a stellar 2014 season, let’s take a look at what this unit will look like in 2015.

The Attack

The known here is Cole Shafer, the sophomore is coming off a freshman campaign where he notched 52 points and through two scrimmages he has shown an overall knack for putting the ball in the back of the net in a variety of different ways.  It would be hard pressed to imagine that Cole does not fill the stat sheet for most games this season.  The other two positions are not as locked in as the right spot and there is a very good chance that we see a platoon approach at both the X and left spot.  At X we’ll have junior Chris Fredrick and freshman Jacob O’Donnell fighting for time.  With Jacob we will see the 1st of 2 California freshmen who will receive minutes from the jump this season.  On the left wing Frankie Fusco will look to see if he can resurrect the magic he had during his freshman season while big sophomore Robert Freeze will try and make that spot his own.  There is a very good chance that these 4 all receive plenty of minutes all season, which guarantees depth if nothing else.

The Midfield

Like the attack with Cole, Ryan Belka and Jules Raucci come back to form the known at the midfield.  Captain Ryan Belka comes into his senior season having been a major contributor on this offense his entire career; he will be the clear leader for this unit this season.  Jules brings back his ankle braking split and with Belka will create a great 1-2 punch and will force the D to consider bringing 2 poles up top to defend.  After the top 2 there is a whole bunch of choices for minutes.  During the scrimmages we the other Cali freshmen Michael Kay as well as sophomore Joe Rainoldi play on that first line.  Similar to what is expected on attack, we could see these two platoon time on the first line.  For the remaining minutes we should see senior Mitch de Snoo back with his lefty cannon as well as juniors Hank Brown, Mason Pynn and Jordan Cunningham, all of which have the ability to play both ways and on the wings.  Rounding out some real quality depth on this unit will be senior TJ Foley and sophomores Jake Gonzales and Nick Valentino.

The Coach

Steven Boyle comes to the Dragons from a Brown team that averaged 10 goals per game last season.  Like Coach Ford before him, he had a tremendous career at Johns Hopkins and early word is that there are enough similarities in the coaching to where the players have flat out hit the ground running with their new leader.  There is no doubt that Steven will look to make his own mark with this unit and there will be wrinkles unique to his idea of offense that we have not seen here for the last 5 seasons.

No lets go score some goals!!!

Know Your Enemy - Virginia 

Our very own Carl got all fired up and went behind enemy lines to get the info on Virginia. Here is what you need to know:

The boys kick the season off the way we always do against a highly ranked University of Virginia Team.  This game is a little different this year being that UVA has already played a game and notched a win against 7th ranked Loyola.  This is good and bad.  Good in the sense that we can use that game to analyze what we can expect.  Bad in the sense that they are coming off a big win against a top 10 ranked team.  We knew before that game that UVA lost their top defenseman Tanner Scales (great lax name) to a season ending injury.  They went into that game with their entire close defense making their collegiate debuts. 

A few things to know about every Virginia team in the history of Virginia teams.  They shoot the ball a lot.  They shot 43 times against Loyola.  This is on the low side for the average number of times they generally shoot.  That number generally hovers around 55 times a game.  They shoot very wellUVA’s offense is very capable of picking spots when they shoot.  They will redodge.  If an opportunity isn’t there look for their guys to patiently pull the ball out a bit and go again.  Last and probably most important is they will go on goal scoring runsUVA tends to have huge momentum swings in which they will score 3 to 6 goals in a very short amount of time.  Watching the Loyola game highlights showed me all of these generalizations about UVA are true.


               As said before every single guy on their close defense is new to the college game.  Loyola scored 12 against them.  This doesn’t really tell us much.  Sophomore goalie Matt Barrett #9 saved the ball 9 times.  He’s got a .465 save percentage in his career.  That’s not awesome.  Also the ball popped out of his stick a few times against Loyola.  At least one of those times resulted in a goal.  Cole should be looking for rebounds all day!


               Greg Coholan #1 led the way scoring four goals, followed by Zed Williams #36 (great lax name) who netted 3 and had 2 assists, rounded out by Ryan Tucker #3 who had a goal.  This is where the majority of their scoring and offense came from.  There will be lots of top dodging all day.  They went 9 for 28 against Loyola on faceoffs.  Look for Saputo to steal their lunch money.


               Attack is led by Senior Owen Van Arsdale #14 (great lax name) and rounded out by Freshman Matt Emery #4, and Joe French #43.  Each of those guys had a goal against Loyola.  Look for Van Arsdale (great lax name) to be feeder.  He had 27 assists last year.


               They’re very young on defense.  Anyone on their offense can score.  Overall this is a very beatable team with an average goalie and not very impressive faceoff stats.  The keys to the game are going to be limiting goal runs and possession.  Both of these go hand in hand.  Saying possession will be key is cliché but I truly believe that in this game it’s of utmost importance.  I cannot wait for Saturday!  Dragon Lacrosse fans, we’re back!  Last year we introduced ourselves, this year let’s tell them we’re here to stay. 

In the words of Mike Avato, “Now you know, and knowing is half the battle.”