Game Stories

Game story press releases from current seasson

From the Bleachers 

 

 

 

 

From the Bleachers: When Talent Meets Heart

 

            Wow again!

            Not Wow in surprise we were victorious, but Wow that we had no idea how scintillating a non-Overtime could be. Wow in the way it unfolded. Wow in the electric atmosphere. Wow in the meeting of talent and heart. Wow, its possible to play in the sun!

            Those of us who sat in the frigid bleachers in February, March, and even April witnessed drama on a weekly basis. We shivered as Virginia took a broken play and broke our hearts—yet again—in the waning seconds. Our teeth rattled as Villanova took advantage of their icy turf to put an overtime goal in when we thought we had them. Howling winds against St. Johns, torrential downpours against Delaware, and a ridiculous blizzard against St. Joes did not break our will. We were still bundled up in a nail-biter victory over Penn State in triple OT. The strongest steel goes through the hottest flame we heard growing up, and perhaps the strongest will is molded from the most challenging elements. After all, a Dragon’s fire comes from within.

            Winning may be a tonic that cures and bonds. But you need scars to have something to heal. Drexel has plenty of them over the decades. Good teams, and some great players, have won and lost wearing blue and yellow. But never in the NCAA Championships Big Dance, televised nationally. No Drexel team ever had as much pressure to perform as this 2014 version of Dragonlaxers.

            After such emotional intensity post a triple overtime victory at Hofstra, on the heels of another overtime semi final in the CAA Championships against Towson, was there gas in the tank to take on the Ivy League Champion University of Pennsylvania? Only the players and coaches in that locker room at Vidas Field knew. And even that group had to have a natural bout of butterflies the size of Pterodactyls.

            On this day—a hot one for once—at epic Franklin Field, we found out the answer to this question and revealed a few new truths, too.

            First, we discovered we had a thriving student body. Second, it was unearthed we have an actual mascot (Mario the Dragon). Third, we have real life cheerleaders. Fourth, we were playing a home game, not an away game.

            What remained unanswered was how tight we would be and for how long, a quarter, half, or the whole game? With a raucous crowd, including the impressive Penn Band, it was expected we’d see nerves translate to turnovers and missed assignments. Emotion was put on the graphic “Keys to the Game” according to ESPNU analyst Matt Ward (Tewaaraton winner and National Champion for UVa) and announcer Mike Corey. They were correct.

            Before we had time to smear on the suntan lotion it was 2-0 to Penn. It wasn’t until almost half way through the first quarter before we stopped playing Hot Potato with the ball and got on the scoreboard. Sophomore Hank Brown, now fully healed from leg issues, took a feed from Cole Shafer and put all he had into a step-down shot to smoke Quaker goalie Brian Feeney and cut the lead in half. It may have been only the first goal, but it was a statement play. The shot was a rocket, and it wasn’t from our most heralded midfielder, Big Ben McIntosh. That first goal told Penn, our crowd, and North Americans from West Philly and Toronto to Laguna Beach that when Drexel puts the ball in the net it is with authority!

            Except for the few who were still thawing out from the winter in the bleachers, no one has seen the Drexel Dragons Men’s Lacrosse team. Quality teams like Albany know we are solid, but let’s face it, we are the best-kept secret, and perhaps the most underrated team, to play Division 1 lacrosse today.

            Critics will complain Penn was overrated in their tournament ranking (#4). This writer does not like Penn’s limited schedule of only twelve regular season games (versus our 14 and Duke’s 17, for instance), but RPI does not lie. The numbers speak to the quality of the teams you play, their record, the records of the teams they play, and the differential of scores. Penn did not win the Ivy League by wearing cool helmets—they won by earning it on the field with blood, sweat, and tears against the best of the best.

            With Penn up 3-1, holding the ball in their sticks and a man advantage, the game was on the verge of getting out hand. True, we have come back by three the last two games in thrilling fashion, but how many holes can a team dig and crawl out of? This enormous stage made it a different conversation.

            The Drexel Man Down unit not only killed the penalty, but also set up Ryan Belka in transition, a dangerous guy with the ball on the full sprint, who ripped one over the head of the highly decorated Ivy League Goalie of the Year like an exclamation point. Instead of 4-1 it became 3-2, and our two goals were with such authority you could argue they were like body blows in a heavyweight-boxing match, not knockouts, but crippling to the anatomy and psyche in the early rounds. Credit Miles Thomas, Paul Harrison, Jake Kiernan, and a Klunder. The brothers Klunder always do the dirty work, never complain, and get the job done. So whether Jason or Jordon was on the field for a particular Man Down is irrelevant. This was the first of 4 Man Down penalty kills, enormous in a game of this magnitude.

            Note: the first penalty was for holding, but the second penalty was on Tyler Houchins for absolutely ruining a dodging Penn player. You could hear the collision throughout the stadium. As a former Dman back-in-the-day (when it was still allowed to nail people—if not encouraged), this writer loved the hit, thought it was clean, and moreso because it set the tone Drexel would not be pushed around. There is a statue of NFL great Chuck Bednarik inside Franklin Field, and old “Concrete Charlie” would have loved that hit and the physicality of this game.

            Unfortunately, the smackdown incensed Penn, and they took retribution shortly thereafter by clobbering our star freshman Shafer with a brutal shot to the head. And although Cole is as tough as they get and returned to the game briefly, it concerned our trainers enough to keep him on the sideline for the entire second half. To have a 50+ point producer on the bench might squelch hope for most teams. Not these Dragons.

            Penn’s star Attackman Nick Doktor found the back of the net to make it 4-2 with nine seconds to go in the first quarter. It would have been much worse had our sophomore goalie Will Gabrielsen not made 5 saves in the opening salvo, a couple of which were demoralizing to Penn because they were point blank stuffs. So, again, instead of being down as much as 9-2, we got a face off to end the quarter trailing by just 2. 

            We know who Nick Saputo is and what he brings to the table. You saw it all year if you went to a game. His 19-22 face-off domination against Towson in the CAA Semi was an All American performance as stated previously here on WPF. But how many people were at that game? Take a guess. Wrong, 331 is the correct answer.

            Well, this time there was nearly ten times that (2852) in the stands with millions more at home watching on television. Saputo had already spooked Penn’s face off man Danny Feeney, the twin of goalie Danny, so badly he jumped early, putting the ball in Nick’s stick with 0:09 on the clock. Without hesitation, Nick rushed the goal and fed it inside, yet the ball was batted down, causing it to pop up off the turf into the air as the seconds ticked away. Only instant replay could truly capture the incredible athletic ability of Saputo as he snagged the ball while getting decked, and somehow through sheer will and determination got a shot off towards the goal, while his body was perpendicular to the ground. Not only did he get the shot off, he managed to place it in the far corner off a bouncer past keeper Feeney’s sprawling legs, making it 4-3. Another body-blow to Penn’s gut.

            Despite the temporary shocker, Penn gathered themselves and continued to play solid in the second quarter, moving the ball deliberately and methodically to set up an Iso (Isolation = One guy goes to the net solo, unassisted) to make it 5-3 before Nick Trizano cut the lead back down to 5-4 with a bold Iso move of his own. This is when the bodies flew and both teams saw themselves man down. The difference was Penn took a man down kill and converted it into a longstick goal as Drexel was caught napping while substituting players from the box. Having a pole score is always a lift to a team. Having a pole score while man down is a major momentum boost. Was the game slipping away from the Dragons? The Penn Band, also known as The Huge, sure sounded like it.

            Down 6-4 with 1:16 to go in the half, Saputo took the face off and gave Drexel possession. With just 17 seconds remaining sophomore Jules Raucci showed the lax world his ankle-breaking split-dodge-crossover-move, leaving his Penn defender whiffing at air. Jules then absolutely rips an upper to make it a 6-5 ballgame. Fist to the ribs…

            That probably would have been enough to build on in the locker room, considering Penn had controlled much of the half, but Saputo had other thoughts in mind. Being close wasn’t gonna cut it. It was time to make history.

            Pinch & Pop, one of Nick’s favorite moves, worked to perfection and before Penn could say, “Cover him!” Saputo was throwing his body, and the ball, towards the Penn cage. To be clear, Nick didn’t just lean into the shot, he dove while shooting. When the net burst into motion the Drexel crowd lost it. Down 6-4 had become 6-6 with just 12 seconds to go in the half. Our cheerleaders were jumping up and down, the mascot waving our flag, and the parents were delirious. This was an uppercut to the Quaker’s chin.

            To our utter amazement, and for West Philly lore upon which legends are made, Saputo was still not finished. Again, he bullied Feeney and snagged the ball on the run to fling himself, and the ball, towards the cage, this time with an overhand rocket that stings the net inside pipe. First Team CAA is impressive, but this a First Team All American sequence. In fact, this is the kind of play that little lax groms around the world look up their parents and say, “I want to be a face-off guy!”

            To say our crowd was losing it would be the worst understatement ever construed. It was the knockout blow. The reeling Quakers were only saved by-the-bell of halftime.

            You cannot literally say the game was over then and there because a half was yet to be played and the score was just a one-goal game (7 to 6), but it was. The Fire that a Dragon breathes is the hottest ever, and when the third quarter started the turf would be further scorched. From Penn’s goal with a minute to go in the half until 9:42 in the fourth quarter, 21 minutes, Drexel outscored the Quakers 10-1. Defensemen Matt Dusek, Houchins, Thomas, and Mohawk-shaved Kiernan were a buzz saw, with LSMs Markel Nelson and Jake Gennosa augmenting the fury. Gabrielsen added to his 7 first half saves with three more in the third quarter, nearly all from in close, and one that was Sports Center Top 10 Plays worthy, a diving across the crease stuff, followed by another brick wall body block.

            While the D was nearly invincible, the O was tearing Quakers apart limb by limb. Jared Boudreau, our senior from Vermont, cranked not one, but two whippies hard and high. Raucci added a second goal on his day (to go with 2 assists), and sophomore Chris Frederick got his first goal of the year by jamming one in from close range. At that point it was 14-8 and all that was left was the Fat Lady singing, Coach Brian Voelker getting a Gatorade shower, and Big Ben jamming in another hattrick to break the All-Time Single Season Goals Record (46) at DU. Forty six goals is impressive by any standard, but from the midfield position it is extraordinary. Glad to hear the ESPNU team in the booth acknowledged exactly that, and further note that McIntosh is the #1 scoring Middie in the country this season.

            Leadership by senior Captains Klunder and McIntosh drove freshmen like Joe Rainoldi to embrace their positions whether superstar or role player. The sophomores from Mason Pynn to the starters likewise bought-in and supported each other from week to week. Seeing sophomore Cal Winkleman enthusiastically charge the field to hug Shafter after Cole’s game winner in the CAA Championship shows that these guys are in it together, regardless of whether they played in this year’s triple OT victory or last year’s triple OT victory.

            On this Mother’s Day the young men with dragons on their helmets gave their moms the biggest gift of all; sheer joy. A mother doesn’t need to know the Native Americans invented Baggattaway as a way to honor their Gods and to avoid full-scale wars. All mothers really need to know is that their sons, and daughters, are happy. If camaraderie, passion, and life lessons like putting someone other than yourself first are the catalyst for a smile, most mothers will find bliss in that, too. We thank you mothers for always being there for us as players, coaches, fans, and alumni. The search for a child’s joy is why these loving moms show up early, stay late, and bring food regardless of climate change or circumstance. We hope the smiles on Sunday were a giant, “I Love You, Mom.”

            Regarding lax, we are not finished!

            There are four games going to be played this weekend for a birth to Championship Weekend in Baltimore. Remarkably, watching us on Sunday will be Syracuse, Loyola, Cornell, Virginia, UNC, Harvard, Air Force, and Penn who at least got to play in this year’s tournament. Excellent teams like Princeton, Hofstra, Fairfield, Penn State, UMBC, UMass, High Point, Yale, Lehigh, Army, UMass, Towson, Villanova, and St. Joes will continue to watch us on TV in the NCAA Quarterfinals. All 67 Division 1 teams will watch, as will all the other levels in college, high school, club, and professional. Drexel is playing. It is an honor to be among the final 8. Who thought we’d be the second game of a double-header in the quarters playing after Johns Hopkins versus Duke? Actually, some of us did, but it is still awesome.

            Denver is loaded with highly recruited talent, trained in world-class facilities, and coached by six-time national champion (all at Princeton, the most by any active coach) Bill Tierney. On paper they are big favorites. Just like Hofstra and Penn were. But they were not undefeated this year. Indeed, Penn beat Denver 12-10, one of Denver’s only 2 losses in an impressive 15-2 campaign. Denver is 3-2 against Top 20 competition this year, and we are 3-3.

            But you know what? We have Big Ben, Belks, Jules, Cole, Vermont, Duce, T$, Miles, The Jakes, The Klunders, Mace & Clark, Triz, backed by clutch goalie Gabes. And our team has a not-so-secret weapon, a nuke named Saputo.

            Our mascot breathes Fire. Our players breathe Fire. Our parents and alumni breathe Fire. Many pioneers burned in fires as they tread west long ago, but this time they may find themselves scorched on the east coast at Delaware Stadium on Sunday at 2:30pm. Come add flames in person or from your couch watching on national TV (ESPNU). Either way, we remain proud to be part of the Dragonlax family and all that it represents.

            Dare to dream. We are only three wins from being National Champions. Why not us? We have the talent and we have the heart. That’s all a team needs for 60 minutes. Good luck Dragons. It’s right there in front of you. Go ahead and take it!

 

- Anonymous Dragonlax Fan

From the Bleachers 

 

 

 

 

From the Bleachers: A CAA Championship & Beyond

Wow!

If you were at the game on Saturday night, or heard about it, or saw the videos, then you know what I mean. Our Dragonlaxers would not be denied! How they did it was worth explaining, but the result was simply Wow.

We knew heading into the CAA Championship that Hofstra would be tough. They’ve been to 17 NCAA tournaments, were 8-1 at home this season and they beat us 11-9 earlier this year in West Philly. We’d seen them move the ball around and patiently work for their shot, mostly inside stuffs and backdoor plays, and we had seen their top-notch goalie deny us. We knew there would be a big crowd and we knew it was going to take everything we had to come out on top. We knew, they knew, and the rest of the lax world knew Drexel had fielded many solid teams over the years, and were almost without question the best team whom never made it to the Big Dance.

What we didn’t know was if under all the pressure, with the chips down, under the bright lights, trailing by three late in the fourth quarter - for the second straight playoff game - whether our team could muster The Fire one last time to get over the most difficult of hurdles. What we didn’t know was if our seniors would lead and if our underclassmen would shine. What we failed to fathom was the drama that would unfold and how, despite losing our minds in the bleachers, our boys who became men this season would stand tall and come through in the clutch.

Big Ben McIntosh played like the All-American he was last year and will be again.  Like the CAA Player of the Year and Tewaaraton candidate by taking his game from rocket-launcher to feeding machine. Yes, Big Ben led the CAA in goals this season (42 heading into the game) and Hofstra knew it too. Thus, a pole followed him everywhere but the locker-room at halftime. Draw & Dish was the recipe and Big Ben acted as the master chef serving up 4 assists to go with his 1 goal.

Fellow senior Nick Trizano, a warrior who fought through injuries for most of the past two years, came through in the big game by jamming in a hattrick and sacrificing his body time and time again. On one sequence in the first half a shot was ripped and ricocheted off our sprawling goalie Will Gabrielsen to midfield.  Cole Shafer snagged the ball as he was being crushed by two Hofstra defenders out of bounds and somehow shoveled the rock backwards to a sprinting Triz who went hard to the goal and slammed it in. Triz was also hit and sent flying, only to roll and pop up with hands extended knowing the ball went in by the sound of our crowd and the confidence of a true attackman. Every Dragon on that play laid out and was rewarded. It's plays like this that you look back on and see they made a difference in an even game.

The same could be said of the unsung heroes like Tyler Houchins who guarded the CAA assist leader and First Teamer Sam Llinares, holding him to 1 point, just as he did against other stars this year (see St. Johns, Penn St., UMass, and Towson twice) and Matt Dusek, both of whom had 3 ground balls each. Those seniors showed once again a sense of urgency that resonated with the underclassmen. The short stick D partnership of Klunder, Klunder, Clark, & Pynn played their roles like NFL cornerbacks and safeties, getting the job done with almost no stats to prove it.

Less than five minutes remained and Hofstra led 10-7. Did we weather the storm or was it another solid year for Drexel that would come oh-so-close?

We suggested this was a team of destiny in past columns, and not just because we are fans and eternal optimists, but because the 2014 version of Men’s Lacrosse at Drexel is a well rounded squad, deep with talent at both ends of the field and in the middle. With 4:37 to go this proved correct as Big Ben found freshman sensation Shafer for his fourth goal of the evening. Nick Saputo, our star face-off stud, had his hands full during the contest yet when we needed him most he came through and kept the momentum in our favor leading to Triz score a minute later at 3:15 in the 4th quarter. Triz’s unassisted goal made it a 10-9 game.

And who would step up and tie the game? How about the guy who took control in the last playoff game against Towson to win it in overtime? That’s right, Ryan Belka. After another Saputo face-off win Belks went lefty down the left seem and when there was no decent shot circled back and went righty, whipping it past Hofstra keeper Chris Selva, a second team CAA selection.

Very little gets written about Goalies in this modern era where games are usually twenty-plus goals combined, but let’s give credit where credit is due. Selva played great. The junior made several saves from in close. But our goalie, sophomore Will Gabrielsen, made more saves (13 to 9), including 9 in the first half, and outshone his more documented counterpart. Those 13 saves put Gabrielsen #9 in the country for total saves and atop the CAA now the dust is settled. Selva and Gabrielsen played excellent on this night. To score, both teams needed to earn it.

In the first OT another underclassmen, sophomore Miles Thomas, had a caused turnover that kept the game alive to a second OT where Gabrielsen made a stop by remaining disciplined by hugging the pipe to thwart a Mike Malave rip. Remember Gabrielsen making a stop in the second OT versus Penn State to force a third OT victory? I bet his teammates do. Clutch by anybody’s standards.

Now in the 3rd OT we find Saputo again gobbling up his 10th ground ball on his 11th face-off win. After a smart timeout by Coaches Voelker and Ford, we see a new wrinkle, sophomore Jules Raucci, our ankle-breaking Middie, behind the net dodging a Hofstra shorty. Jules bolts hard to his left, and then swims right, just enough to get his hands free to fire the ball to Cole Shafer.

Shafer has had a memorable season. His no-look-over-the-head shot in the third quarter was ridiculous. I mean how many Drexel alums can claim to have 50 points in their freshmen season? Not many. And none have had the pleasure of cranking a low to high whippy in triple OT to win the school’s first CAA Championship and Automatic Qualifier to the NCAA Championships. Shafer did not disappoint. Indeed, Cole Shafer is now a legend in West Philly....

But is that it? Are we done? Hell no!

We not only get to play another game, we avoid a plane or bus to hostile environments like Denver, Notre Dame, Maryland, Virginia, and Loyola. Our Dragonlaxers get a pseudo-home game at Franklin Field against the Ivy League Champions, UPenn.

Like Drexel, UPenn made it to the NCAAs with hard work, talent, and sheer will. Penn has one of the only teams in recent memory who do not platoon their middies, using several lines of two-way, old school athletes who can stop at one end and shoot at the other. This will be a challenge for our offensive stars who will inevitably have to play D. Penn has Ivy League Goalie of the Year Brian Feeney, who like Gabrielsen, is from Summit, NJ, and Feeney’s twin Danny will keep Saputo busy at the face-off X. This game will be one for the ages.

In the end, no one can take away what our Drexel Dragons have accomplished in 2014. We are CAA Champions and the school’s first group to make it to national TV in the playoffs. They have shown Fire, grit, determination, leadership, tenacity, and clutch performances time and time again.

We started counting at 8 games to a NCAA Championship, and now that number is cut in half. Four wins and our team sits atop the lax world. Almost impossible to fathom just a couple months ago when we sat with a 4-4 record. Impossible for the outsiders, impossible to the skeptics and non-believers. Not impossible for those of us who always believed. We said we’d need senior leadership, stars to shine in the critical moments, with coaching and goaltending the tipping points. So far, so good.

Of course, it all starts with one game at a time. One epic contest on ESPNU whose national audience will see the Drexel Dragons for the first time this year, and for most, the first time ever. If we play our game, scoring 11+ goals, and hold our opponents to 10 or less, we will be going to the quarterfinals in Delaware.

Let’s show America what we are made of. Let’s keep playing. Let’s keep winning. Few expected us to be here in the first place, so we are playing on house money as a heavy underdog. Let’s shock the world and give lax fans a new team to route for.

Congratulations Dragonlaxers on what you have accomplished. That is set in stone. But we are not finished yet. Breathe Fire Dragons!!!

- Anonymous Dragonlax Fan

 

Calling all Drexel Alumni - the boys need your support at Franklin Field.  They feed off the energy of the crowd and why not take over Franklin Field.  Hell, it used to be our home field in the dog days of winter before Vidas had turf.  Meet at Landmark Americana at high noon on the outside patio.  For $25 we've arranged a spread of hoagies, chicken fingers, wings & hot dogs to go along with the delicious brews from our sponsor Yards Brewing Company, Coors Light & well drinks.  To quote my former high school coach, "If you're not in, you're out."  Well not really, but since the game will be on ESPNU expect there to be fewer tweets from @WPFLACROSSE although we'll try to get some pictures of the historic day out to our fans.  Go Dragons. 

 

From the Bleachers 

 

 

 

From the Bleachers: One Game

 

The 2014 iteration of the Drexel Dragons Men’s Lacrosse team is making a statement and perhaps will prove to be a team of destiny. Last Friday night in North Carolina this group of Dragonlaxers took on a hot High Point team, one that was leading it’s Atlantic Sun Conference (and in the meantime has earned a place in that league’s championship game), and took care of business. The 11-8 score was not indicative of the actual game as Drexel dominated from the get-go and let in two goals in the last 30 seconds. What mattered, however, was not the score, but the result. We won. We won on the road. We won a game we were supposed to win. Championship teams find a way to win out of conference games in someone else’s house.

            Yesterday, all the hard work that earned our team a 10-4 regular season record and home field advantage for the CAA semi final came to a head. We had to face our nemesis, the defending CAA Champion, a team that ruined our hopes and dreams last season in brutal abruptness. A team that we beat just a couple Saturdays ago, on their turf, in their spectacular stadium, on their senior night. A team who wanted to play in the swimming pool that was Vidas Field on Wednesday night because they knew the ridiculous conditions would slow down our offensive juggernaut and blind our goalie in the monsoon. I’m talking about the Towson Tigers, of course.

            After checking out of their hotel Towson was forced to sleep in New Jersey and fight flood (literally) traffic on Thursday to get to the game. They were mad. And their coach played on it, holding them in the locker room until just two minutes before the national anthem and face off. Their Head Coach, Shawn Nadelen, another Johns Hopkins alum and former teammate of our Head Coach Brian Voelker, used all the leverage he had. And in the time between our first game and this one he did what his title suggests, he coached. Towson took their time on offense, patiently waiting for the exact shot they wanted from the exact player they wanted taking shots. He said in the press this past week he wanted his team to have “better shot placement” and he put his players in a position to do so. Give Towson credit, because for over three quarters they had us right where they wanted us, up 9-6 with nine minutes to go in the game. With each possession taking up to three minutes, their formula was working.

            Right before the opening face off the CAA announced it’s league All Stars. Matt Dusek, our defensive ground ball machine, Ryan Belka, our consistent dodger and shooter, Nick Saputo, our dominant face off specialist, Nick Trizano our catalyst and goal scorer at X and Player of the Year “Big Ben” McIntosh, all were honored with First Team selections. They proved the selection committee of CAA coaches (who could not vote for their own players) correct.

            In particular, Saputo played one of the best games at the X in playoff history, going 19-22 during the contest. If you want to know what it means to “put on an All American performance” then you either saw it or need to see the tape. Ditto for our big guy, the senior from Western Canada, who proved POY honors mean something.

            Our WPF guys stand behind the goalie net, as you probably know from the cheering (and sometimes heckling), and when Big Ben took a lefty shot (he’s a natural righty) that bounced wildly over the cage when the score was 9-6, Towson Goalie Tyler White laughed out loud. It was clear and it was arrogant. Maybe that sparked the Fire. Or was it the Towson bench mocking us with our own cheer (electronic Ba-Ba-Ba-Bada-Ba-Ba-Bop) during the game when they scored?

            All this writer can tell you is that in sports you can push a beast into a corner only so long. And with minutes ticking off the clock, the season coming to an end, and the careers of McIntosh and his fellow seniors facing the same horror former stars Church and Prosser faced exactly a year ago, something had to give. Give up or expose the fangs and claws of a champion.

            The clock struck midnight for Towson as Big Ben took control. With 9:17 to play McIntosh jammed one in to make it 9-7, unassisted. With 3:35 to go, McIntosh again unassisted, 9-8. 2:47 to go freshman sensation Cole Shafer catches the ball in traffic via Belka, weaves through a titanium buzzsaw, and rocks the net to tie the game, his fourth goal of the contest.

            McIntosh isn’t finished, and with 2:14 to go he blasts his fourth of day punching the twine to give Drexel a 10-9 lead.

            But the defending champs were not giving up. They finally win a face off and with just 1:20 left find a streaking attackman coming backdoor who puts the ball in the upper corner to force OT. BTW, we are thanking the pipe for that as a shot with 1 second to go rattled off the crossbar.

            In twenty or thirty years, or a hundred for that matter, the facts will be the facts and the results their proof. Overtime: First Teamer Saputo wins the face off, with the help of senior Defenseman Tyler Houchins who nabs the ground ball yet keeps his toes behind the line of the restraining box like an NFL wide receiver, and delivers it to our offense.

            Coach Voelker wisely calls a time out and Coach Chris Ford, our Offensive Coordinator, probably the most unheralded assistant coach in the sport today, calls a play Towson has never seen because we have never used it before. A double pick with First Team CAA middie Belka sweeping right-to-left (although he is a natural righty) to dodge or dish back to McIntosh who was setting the second pick.

            But McIntosh is plowed over by the Towson defender and Belka has no one to throw to so he takes control of the game, and our season, our seniors, our fans, and the city of Philadelphia for crying out loud, to roar down the left seam, somehow on the full sprint switching hands to get to his strong righty and whips the ball to the opposite low post—a near impossible shot in general—and under the circumstances a play that will stand in Drexel lore for ages.

            When the dust, and players equipment, settles, and the parents come out of their fetal positions in the stands, it is clear we live another day and that day will be in Hempstead, on Long Island, on Saturday night at 7pm. A Championship on the line.

            In 2008 Hofstra beat Drexel in overtime to win the CAA and in 2012 UMass crushed Drexel 18-12 in the CAA Final. “Third time is the charm” many say in quaint cliché fashion. But there is nothing quaint about this Dragonlax squad. They are breathing Fire as a Dragon should.

            Is this the year? We have the players, including CAA All Rookie Teamers Markel Nelson and Cole Shafer, and All Academic CAA Will Gabrielsen in the net. Tomorrow night we will find out.

            At stake is our first ever CAA Title and Automatic Qualifier to the Big Dance in the NCAA Championships. Good luck Dragonlaxers. Destiny is yours if you scratch and claw for it as you have all season. Breath Fire and torch the Dutchmen!

 

 

 

Anonymous Dragonlax Fan