2015 Drexel Defensive Preview

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.