From the Bleachers 

 

 

From The Bleachers: Revenge

 

            As promised, if you lay it all on the line, play your guts out every time you step on the field whether for a shift or the entire game, and come through in the clutch, you will earn respect. On Saturday at Vidas Field the Drexel Men’s Lacrosse Team got the job done and today the polls showed their respect, placing us back in the Top 20 where we belong.

            UMass came to play, but our seniors were not to be denied in their regular season home farewell. Not without irony that doing so creates another potential home game; a semifinal contest for a trip to play in the Big Dance.

            How appropriate for senior Jared Boudreau, the tough mighty-mite from Vermont, to rip open the game with back-to-back goals. Likewise fitting for fellow senior Nick Trizano to lead the scoring with another hattrick and an assist. Triz fights for goals like the warrior he is, lowering his shoulder, spinning, diving, all the while being hacked by titanium left and right. Matt Dusek and Tyler Houchins, seniors who spearhead our D, held the UMass Attackmen in check, shutting down the GLE (Goal Line Extended) and playing physical throughout. Duce is a groundball machine, this week picking up a half dozen (6) of them, many of which were in heavy traffic. Houch shows no stats, but if you really understand lax, you saw #33 all over the field, again shutting down our foe’s top shooter. Senior Captain Jason Klunder, similarly, doesn’t have numbers to flash, but UMass’ offense is predicated on pushing the edges from the midfield, and as such his hustle and grit was instrumental in messing up their set plays and motion in general.

            Kudos to Drexel University for honoring these seniors, as well as Face Off man Devon Thomas (who came through for us going 11-15 earlier this season in our epic win at Albany). It was classy to present our seniors with plaques as they stood alongside their loving family members before the game.

            But when it comes to seniors, there is one who stands a man among men. A guy who lets his play do the talking, old-school-style like Johnny Unitas once did (“Talk is cheap,” the great #19 once said before a NFL Championship game, “Let’s just play.”). A player who was All American last season, and will surely repeat that honor, due to plays like these past two Saturdays. Against both Penn State and UMass this senior would not be denied, bulling through multiple defenders to jam the ball in the back of the net at crucial moments as the clock stuck midnight for those CAA competitors. “Big Ben” McIntosh showed them, and reminded us, what Dragonlax is all about—determination and toughness.

            Last year we were 11-3 heading into our playoff game with Towson. We’d already beaten them in the regular season, so it looked good for us to meet Penn State in the CAA Finals. But Towson was hungrier. They were the ones who won the ground ball battle, knocked us to the ground, and didn’t let up until our season was toast. The Towson Tigers left senior Dragon stars like Robert Church andAaron Prosser with heads held low in shock and disappointment as their season, and their careers, came to an abrupt end. Then, Towson went on to knock off Penn State to win the AQ and play in the NCAAs for the 11th time in their history. That should have been Drexel.

            We cannot change the past, but we can rewrite Drexel lacrosse history this year by making the NCAAs for the first time in the modern era (since 1971 when the NCAA took control). This shouldn’t be for posterity, though. We need to beat Towson because we are angry. We owe them repayment. We owe Churchy and Pross and all the other Dragonlaxers who left it on the field over the last 67 years. Towson ruined a great year of ours in 2013 and have bested us 38 out of 45 meetings. Not this time.

            Not this year. This year we are hungrier, tougher, more battle-tested. Our seniors, Coach Voelker’s first class of recruits upon arriving at DU, are not going down without a fight. Viking ships carried “Berserkers” who fought so wildly their own shipmates kept their distance while their madmen tore apart adversaries. Our seniors are doing the same, leading by example. Look at their effect on junior stud Ryan Belka who is again looking like an All-CAA selection, ripping uppers in full sprint against UMass after big saves by sophomore keeper Will Gabrielsen, who quietly now has a 11-4 record in his first 15 starts. Junior Jules Raucci seems to get more confident every game, dictating the opposing teams’ slide packages, and meanwhile finding the net himself when we need it. Fellow junior Nick Saputo continues to be a national leader in Face Offs and Ground Balls. Talk about a gutsy player. And what about freshman Joe Rainoldi running end to end actually playing like a Berserker breaking up clears and getting his first career goal?

            We showed The Fire against Penn State. We threw gas on said Fire against UMass and gained Respect. But now is the time to get mad. Now is the time to play with a bigger chip on our shoulders. Towson took something from us. It’s time to take it back, with vengeance on our bloodthirsty minds.

            To win a NCAA Championship we needed to win 9 in a row. Now that number is 8. But the real number is 1. One game, one mission, to destroy Towson in the stadium named after the legend that let his play on the field say it all. On Saturday night at Johnny Unitas Stadium we have the opportunity to taste Revenge. Drink deep Dragonlaxers!

 

 - Anonymous Dragonlax Fan

From the Bleachers: It's About Respect 

 

 

 

From The Bleachers: It’s About Respect

 

            You don’t get respect by asking for it. You don’t get respect by wishing for it. You don’t get respect by complaining people don’t respect you. In sports, as in life, you get respect by working your tail the old fashioned way: by earning it.

            Last Saturday afternoon on Vidas Field our Dragonlaxers took a big step in the respect category with a win over archrival Penn State. While it may be the last time we see those Nittany Lions for a while due to their moving to The Big 10, our men’s lacrosse team gave them, us, themselves, and the lacrosse community something to remember.

            I don’t care if you beat the 67th ranked team in the country in triple overtime, it still feels good, and will feel good forever. In this case, we took down a struggling team who is in disarray, turning the ball over 20 times during the game, but who still have some very good players and—to their credit—fought tooth and nail until the final whistle. Give them respect.

            But where’s our respect? Why isn’t there more press on our big win? Why didn’t we move back in the Top 20 where we belong? How in the world do Army and Lehigh get ranked ahead of us with their marshmallow schedules? Or, for that matter, overrated Penn and Notre Dame who play what seems like ten games per year?

            Friends and fans, it doesn’t matter.

            The only thing that matters is winning this game on Saturday versus UMass. This is a statement game. And, more importantly, it’s a game to secure a CAA playoff game, possibly at home if we win and do the same versus last year’s CAA champ Towson next weekend. If and if…

            UMass is good. The polls show they are and respect them as such. But we are better. Now is the time to prove it.

            If you ask a lacrosse aficionado about Drexel’s reputation they will say, “Good team. Play a tough schedule. Lose a lot of close games.”

            This is changing. Over the last two seasons Drexel is 10-5 in games decided by two goals or less. The prior two seasons we were 6-9. That is not a subtle shift. This is a stat, based on results, which proves we are moving towards the top of the food chain.

            Two years ago a preseason team not in the Top 20 (ranked 21st unofficially) went all the way. No one believed in them but themselves. Can we be the next Loyola? Why not? This is the mentality we need to have. Not just winning the CAA, but earning the Cinderella glass slipper this year so we will never be forgotten again. 9 wins would make Dragonlax legendary forever. Dreamers are the ones who change the world. Dream now and make it happen through relentless hustle and grit and determination on the turf. It starts with 1 win.

            To begin this roll we need to take care of business against UMass. They are having a hard time scoring goals and were lit up by Albany worse than anyone in the country has been lit up all year. We must jump on them early and squeeze the life out of them. For sixty minutes. Not just a few players having great games, but all our stars must shine. Indeed, any player who is lucky enough to step on the field Saturday needs to play as if it is their last shift of their lives. Bodies flying around, making hustle plays on rides and ground balls are what separate two good squads.

            We showed last week we have The Fire. This week lets add gasoline to the embers and light up UMass and the lacrosse world. This is how you earn respect.

- Anonymous Dragonlax Fan

 

Well said, again.  This really gets me going, looks like there may be a chance of rain this weekend but who cares.  The Dragons took down Delaware in the rain and they'll do the same with the Minutemen.  So come on out to the game or watch online and follow us on twitter @WPFLACROSSE

 

 

Closing the Book on Penn State 

Held at Vidas Field in West Philly, Drexel welcomed in Penn State over the weekend for a game that turned out to be an epic Triple OT contest won by the Dragons 13-12.  The game featured the CAA’s top 2 scoring offenses and also marked the last time these two teams will compete as members of the CAA.  The boys finished off their in-state counterpart when Mitch De Snoo tallied his second of the game with 46 seconds to go in the third OT.  The win brings the season record to 7-4, including 6 of their last 8, and it gives the Dragons a 4-2 advantage over PSU for their brief time as conference rivals (including the biggest win in the series when Drexel won in the the 2012 CAA semifinal at Happy Valley).

With no chance of seeing them in the CAA tourney, it’s time to close the book on PSU for good and move on to what will be a huge game against UMass next Saturday.

 

The Sunny

Ben McIntosh – You can look up online and find that Ben leads the CAA in goals (32) and goals per game (2.91).  You can dig further and find that he is ranked 10th in the country in goals per game, but also that he is #1 for middies in the same categories.  All of that you can find.  What you don’t know unless you attend these games, is that he also lines up on the wings for face-offs, he plays D like he’s been specialized for that role, and when this team needs a big play, he takes the ball on the right wing and dodges through two PSU defenders and sticks the game tying goal with 1:21 to play in the 4th quarter.  He isn’t flashy, he just plays tough.  He embodies “West Philly Ball” as much as anyone who has played for this program.

Mitch De Snoo – The big lefty Canadian has really come on over the last few games and has given this team some additional offense from a 2nd line midfield.  He’s been a fringe guy for a couple years now, but this game certainly validates the recent playing time Coach Ford has offered.  With 2 goals on the day; his first at the beginning of the 3rd quarter was the best looking of the 2, but Mitch and everyone in attendance will remember that second goal for a long time.  It’s one thing to be in the right place at the right time, it’s another to make it count …… and Mitch made it count.

The Coaches – big praise to the coaches in this one.  The team came out ready and prepared and really dominated the majority of the game.  Even though PSU owned the face offs and had a 7 to 2 man up advantage, the Dragons had 20 more shots and looked like the more aggressive team for most of the game.  After PSU went on a 5 goal run to end the second period, the team regrouped and scored the next 3 coming out of the locker room.  The Dragons thought they had won the game in the second OT, but when the refs made the call that the game would go on, the team never wavered.  In the final OT, Coach Voelker called a great time out which prevented a turnover, and then they promptly inserted Mitch De Snoo’s fresh legs and won the game with his fresh lefty rip.  Great job by the staff in this game.

The Defense – If you only saw the last 5 minutes of the first half you would never think that the D deserved to be in the sunny as they played a very poor 5 minutes.  But if you take away that 5 minute stretch, then you see that the group only allowed 7 goals during the other 70 minutes of lacrosse.  Further, you take away that second period and PSU only had 18 shots during 60 minutes of lacrosse.  Those are great numbers, and what this D is striving for over the course of a regular 60 minute game.  Special props to Tyler Houchins and Miles Thomas for 3 caused turnovers each in this one.

Ryan Belka – A three goal game that included a ton of solid dodging was just what the doctor ordered for Ryan Belka and this offense.  23 points this season will tell you that Belka has been good, but with Jules Raucci coming on strong and McIntosh being a star, the first line has been waiting for Ryan to shake the early season injury bug and get back to the high level of play that made him a first team CAA performer last season.  Not having any more weekday games has probably helped Belka the most, look out CAA if he gets going and Ben stays hot.

Turnovers – Yes, this is in the sunny section!!!!  One game of overall clean play doesn’t mean this team is out of the woods yet, but winning the TO battle 12-21 is a great start.

 

The Dark

Cole Shafer – The youngster would never land in this section due to the dip in production he has seen over the last few games, he is a freshman and now teams are starting to scout him hard.  But freshman or not, when you throw a horrible behind the back pass in OT which leads to a turnover, you get a mention in the dark side of things.  Let’s clean that up young buck.

Nick Saputo - I’m sorry Nick ….. I’m sorry!!!!  I’m not happy with this, Nick is a stud and arguably the best player on this team, but he had an off day.  I’m sure he’ll shake off the 6 for 18 performance and get back to work against UMass.  Even with the off day, his .645 winning % is still tops in the CAA.

Man Down – While the EMO is tops in the CAA, the man down unit is 2nd to last.  A 4-7 performance from the PSU man up doesn’t help things.  Need to get the special teams right for tourney time.

Will Gabes – The Freshman lefty had a tough outing on Saturday with only 6 saves, he’s lowest total for a game this season by far.  The save in the second OT was money, and obviously allowed for the game winner, but Will had trouble seeing the ball and never got into rhythm.  Let’s look for a bounce back performance from him next week.

 

UMass Next

UMass dropped a low scoring game to Towson over the weekend, but are still ranked #16 in the country and have some very impressive wins this season.  If Drexel wants a legit shot of hosting a semifinal game, something that will happen if they win these next 2, then they need to take care of business on Saturday.  Game is at 4pm, so get your yard work out of the way early and come out and support this team as they make the final push for the CAA tourney.