CAAs: This is it
This Past Week
Our Drexel Dragons are now 4-5.
We beat Michigan and Binghamton this past week, on the road and at home. While they were meaningless to our chances to repeat as CAA champions because they were non-conference games, getting a “W” is always welcome, hard to get in D1, great for confidence, and generally feels good.
Captain Ryan Belka again separated himself from average players in the sport as he scored, dished the rock, and basically took the team on his shoulders as we expected (and wrote about last week). He put up another hattrick against Michigan in the Big House and then handed out three assists to go with a goal in the Binghamton victory. The goal against Bing-ain’t-tough was a lefty shot as he sprinted down the left ally, goalie correctly hugging the post, and yet the ball found a way through an impossible crack to get into the net. One parent looked at Belk’s father in the stands and said, “That was a professional goal.” This summer when we lament losing our start to graduation, and professional lacrosse in the NLL, Ryan will do that again and we will smile.
Co-Captain Nick Saputo won 10 of 19 against Michi-can’t and 10 of 18 on Tuesday. He had 13 groundballs in the two games. To put that in perspective only Miles Thomas, Jake Kiernan, and Will Gabrielsen have more for the entire season! Nick is a leader on the field and in the lockerroom, fun to watch, and in many ways dictates the emotion of the 2015 Dragons.
Sophomore Cole Shafer notched another hattrick against Michigan and then went 1G/1A on Tuesday. The Canadian Sniper is the same guy who put the ball in the upper in the 3rd OT to win Drexel it’s only league title in school history so you can argue it is his time of year arriving on Saturday as the CAA begins.
On D, Thomas, Kiernan, and freshman Michael Meurer have improved as a unit as they have now played half a season together, holding this past week’s shooters to under 10 goals. Jimmy Joe Granito stopped 18 shots (11 and 7) in this week’s victories. And Mason Pynn not only played solid defense as a Middie, but also notched goals in both wins.
Questions Answered and Questions Remain
Winning is the ultimate salve to an open wound that losing creates.
However, if we are to be honest, Michigan and Binghamton were below average teams and the quality of lacrosse being played was poor in both contests. According to Laxpower.com this week Drexel has played the 7th hardest schedule this season. Yet it was those first four games that put us there. The soft middle of our schedule may have built a respectable record on paper and something to build upon, nevertheless the reality the CAA teams we will face shall look far more like those Top 20 teams we began the seaon with.
The good news is our Dragons held their own for large chunks of time against Virginia and Maryland. The bad news is if we play to this past week’s level against the shooters on Fairfield, Hofstra, and Towson, not to mention UMass and Delaware, we are in for a rude awakening.
Drexel needs a spark. It may be a ground ball. Maybe it’s a big hit. Usually it’s a net-ripping upper in a critical sequence or a fantastic save. None of us can say which one of these it will be, when it will come, or who will make it. But if you are a player who gets to see the field, even for just a half, a mere shift, or the whole game, are YOU going to be the one who makes that season-turning play. Put another way: Who wants to MAKE A PLAY?
Turning Point Is Here and Now
Watching Fairfield dismantle Villanova last weekend was scary. Nova actually didn’t play poorly. It was the Stags who took it to them. They played a solid zone D, their Goalie made forced shots look like easy saves, and their O kept shooting. Shooting high heat, over and over.
Here are the facts: Drexel is home at Vidas for 3 of our 5 CAA games to end the regular season. We win those and we are guaranteed a spot in the CAA Tournament. We lose any of them and it gets tricky.
They come one-at-a-time and the next one is Fairfield. Take care of business, Fellas!
Shoot it hard(and overhand please!). Hit somebody so they remember being hit but not what number you wore because they are dazed (but don’t get a penalty—or if you do make it worth it!). Hustle as if it’s your last shift of your last game ever (regardless of your position!). Get Groundballs as if your life depends on it (your team’s life actually does!).
Breathe fire for a full 60 minutes. This is it. Make it count Saturday!