Game Stories

Game story press releases from current seasson

From the Bleachers 

 

 

 

From The Bleachers: Road to a Championship

            At the beginning of every year we look at our favorite team’s schedule and imagine how the season will play out. Based on past history, players graduating, injuries, and expectations, we dream of a winning season. We dream of championships.

            For three decades it has been just a dream for all but a small few. From 1978 to 2008 only Johns Hopkins, Syracuse, Princeton, and North Carolina won an NCAA Championship. That’s thirty years of just four teams starting the season with a realistic chance of going all the way.

            All that has changed in this modern era. In the last five years three titles have been won by Duke and Loyola (combined). New names and new first-time champions give hope to every team.

            Because this generation of players started earlier in youth leagues, were coached by men who actually played versus well meaning football coaches who found an affinity for our sport, the depth of talent nationally has boomed. There has never been so much talent, so deep, on so many teams. Division 1 Men’s Lacrosse now has 67 teams (up a dozen in the last decade) and as seen on a weekly basis, just about anybody can beat anybody. Example: Wagner, the #67 ranked team today beat VMI who beat Air Force who beat Fairfield who beat Yale who beat Princeton who beat Hofstra who beat Cornell who beat Virginia who beat #1 Loyola. Seven degrees of separation Kevin Bacon would understand.

            Teams on the rise like Drexel and High Point shine a light on the future of our sport. Drexel plays a far more difficult schedule, in a brutal conference, yet the way High Point played UNC this past weekend shows the gap narrows every game.

            Drexel won an enormous game on Saturday night in Maryland against the defending CAA Champions. The atmosphere was electric. Johnny Unitas Stadium was packed with locals and lax kids in droves. There was even a Jumbotron instant-replay screen and a shot clock (for next year when they change the rules to 60 seconds). Dragon parents, sisters and brothers, grandparents, and friends eager to see their team continue a quest for a conference title cheered their guts out.

            From the bleachers we witnessed boys become men this season, never more so than on Saturday night. Freshmen who are playing in their first game are still freshmen, but the name freshman next to a player’s name who is playing in their thirteenth D1 game is a seasoned veteran, especially if said player has scored so many goals and passed out so many assists he has drawn the attention of every coach who has seen film of Drexel.  Despite the attention, our crafty Attackman from Canada named Cole Shafer dodged and wove his way to the goal to rip uppers and pluck corners 5 times against the Towson Tigers.

            Sophomore Hank Brown got his first goal of the season and it couldn’t have come at a better time as we ramp up for High Point and a CAA Semifinal within the next week. Just like sophomores Miles Thomas and Jules Raucci, who are playing their best ball of 2014, we need the underclassmen to shine at crunch time. “Big Ben” McIntosh is finally getting the kudos he deserves, and the attention of every defense. When he passes the ball to our—what has become—arsenal of talent, it only makes the Dragons more fearsome.

            Nick Saputo, a junior, lays it all on the line every face off. He is currently ranks #6 nationally in both face off percentage (64%) and ground balls (124). His determination is contagious. And how could the team not be inspired by the play of sophomore Goalie Will Gabrielsen on Saturday night? Will not only made 11 official saves and picked up 2 key ground balls, drew a penalty, and stuffed several point blank shots, he also got his face mask broken by a rocket shot, staggered for “a standing 8 count”, gathered his senses on the sideline, and returned to make a save with 2 seconds to go in the third quarter and another 3 saves in the clutch fourth quarter as Towson attempted to muster a comeback.

            That maturity by Shafer, determination by Saputo, and toughness by Gabrielsen needs to transcend to the field in North Carolina this Friday night against a very good High Point squad. In only their second season as a Division 1 program, High Point sit atop the Atlantic Sun Conference eager to earn a AQ trip to the Big Dance. Their last game they played UNC even for three quarters and fell 12-8, more than a respectable score. They have seen very solid play at face off, attack, and the goalie positions all season. High Point is tough to beat at home (5-2) and overall (8-5).

            Every possession will be valuable for our Dragons to win. Each ground ball, save, face off, or time out that puts the ball back in the hands of Nick Trizano (another hat trick against Towson) and Jared Boudreau’s (1 goal, 1 assist Saturday night) will matter.  On Saturday Mason Pynn, our bull at Short Stick Middie (SSM), gathered a ground ball late in the third quarter with the score 9-5. He was clearly getting pushed out of bounds but the referee did not have his hand on his pocket to pull a flag. Coach Voelker saw this and quickly called a timeout before Pynn went flying out of bounds. Instead of Towson having a chance to make it a 9-6 game, we held onto the ball and converted the timeout into money to stretch the lead to 10-5 and take the wind out of the home team, and their crowd’s, sails.     

            If Loyola, Duke, Penn, and Denver win Patriot, ACC, Ivy League, and Big East titles, respectively, those four will not need At Large bids. The eight At Large guarantees look like Johns Hopkins, Maryland, Syracuse, UVa, Cornell, Yale, UNC, and who? Hofstra or Drexel. But that’s only if all the above teams win their conferences (no exceptions) and if Yale beats Harvard and if Harvard loses their first round Ivy Tournament game and if Army beats Notre Dame (if ND doesn’t get to .500), and if Fairfield loses to Ohio State. All that, and if we beat High Point the door to an At Large bid cracks open for Drexel. Are you kidding me? Way too many Ifs!

            The simple and straight road: beat High Point, win Semi and Final of CAA Playoffs.

            Three wins from a CAA Championship. Seven from an NCAA Championship. Again, it all starts with 1 game, packed with The Fire, grit, toughness, and relentless sheer will of not being denied.

            No math. No ifs. Just results. And with it a dream come true; a Championship for Drexel.

- Anonymous Dragonlax Fan
 

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