The No.9 Minutemen (8-5, 2-3 Colonial Athletic Association) lost the 3-0 lead late in the first quarter and the UMass defense never seemed to recover.
Another problem for the Minutemen was penalties. UMass committed five penalties, three of which led to scores by the No.13 Dragons (10-4, 3-2 CAA).
UMass coach Greg Cannella couldn’t say much more about the fouls other than the fact that they are part of the game.
“We’re trying to be physical and that’s the way the game is and should be played,” Cannella said. “Sometimes guys foul. It’s not something that they’re necessarily trying to do but when you play physical, you’re going to foul some and you have to live with that.”
Attackman Will Manny scored the first goal of the contest just over three minutes in and things looked to be in the Minutemen’s favor as Manny assisted on the next two goals of the game. Manny fed midfielders Anthony Biscardi and Ryan Liebel for scores.
Defenseman Travis Tripucka (one ground ball, one caused-turnover) drew an unnecessary roughness penalty and Drexel subsequently scored its first man-up goal of the game.
The goal sparked a run started by Scott Perri scoring his first of four goals on the day, at least one in every period but the third.
One of the few bright spots for Minutemen was holding the Dragon’s top two scorers in Robert Church and Colin Ambler to one goal, two assists – all by Church.
Sophomore Tom Celentani led the UMass defense with three ground balls and two caused-turnovers.
Short of Celentani and junior Casey Rahn’s two caused-turnovers, the Minutemen defense couldn’t overpower a Drexel offense that saw nine different players put points on the stat sheet.
“We couldn’t defend and on the other side of the ball, we turned it over and you can’t do that,” Cannella said. “You have to score, you have to answer back and we didn’t do that. They put a lot of pressure on our defense.”
After the Dragon’s scoring flux, midfielder Will Jeffery took a pass from Biscardi and cut the deficit to three, the closest UMass would get for the rest of the game.
After two more scores by Drexel, Ryan Hantverk scored on an assist from fellow midfielder Christian Hain to close out the third quarter.
The Dragons started the final quarter with an unassisted score by Perri, his third of the game.
Church opened up the game for Drexel with a goal with just under 12 minutes remaining.
Liebel scored the only UMass goal of the period on an assist from midfielder Bobby Hayes, before Perri put the game away for the Dragons.
The Minutemen out-shot Drexel 38-35 in part because of a 16-shot fourth quarter that landed UMass just one goal to the Dragons’ three.
The Minutemen also held the advantage in ground balls, grabbing 30 to Drexel’s 24.
UMass goalie Tim McCormack took the loss in the cage while making 12 saves with a ground ball to his credit as well.
Mark Manos made 11 saves in the cage for Drexel and came out of the game in favor of Andy Blahut and Andy Lamb, respectively. Each of Manos’ replacements recorded a save.
UMass resumes play when it travels to Maryland on Wednesday to take on top-seeded Towson in the semi-finals of the CAA conference tournament. Game time is set for 7:30 p.m.
The Tigers beat UMass during the regular season, 10-9 on Senior Day for the Minutemen.
Mike Gillmeister can be reached at email@example.com.