Drexel loses win streak before dramatically defeating Lafayette

By Dan Gigliotti

The Drexel men’s lacrosse team experienced both anguish and jubilation in two games this week, losing a six-game win streak to previously unranked Villanova and beating Lafayette in the final minute.

The No. 11-ranked Dragons (7-2) went into last Wednesday’s affair having not lost since opening day against then-No. 3 Virginia. After nearly a whole month of victories, the now No. 17-ranked Wildcats (5-3) thwarted Drexel for their second consecutive win against a top 10 opponent in as many tries.

The former Colonial Athletic Association rivals tangled in Pennsylvania where senior Paul Webber led Villanova with four goals en route to a 10-8 victory. The Wildcats enjoyed a 5-3 halftime lead and led 9-4 after three quarters before the Dragons would try to mount a comeback. After four unanswered goals, however, the Drexel attack was halted by a Webber goal, sealing its second loss of the season.

Sunday’s match proved to be a different story for the Dragons as they dealt No. 8 Lafayette its lone loss of the season on Adam Dennis’s game-winning goal with 15 seconds to play in regulation. Along with two first quarter goals, Dennis recorded a hat trick, giving him 10 goals on the season.

As opposed to its previous game, Drexel’s fourth quarter was its detriment, leading 11-7 after three periods and allowing the Leopards (6-1) to even the score with four unanswered goals. The Dragons have allowed more shots on goal and scores in the fourth quarter than collectively in any other.

Drexel performance was lax on the defensive end, giving up three more goals per contest this week than its season average (7.56). The 11 goals given up against Lafayette equals its most allowed this season, having allowed 11 in its first game against the Cavaliers. Drexel’s loss against Villanova also marked one of only four times it allowed nine or more goals.

Nittany Lions rally

Fresh legs ran Penn State to its first win of the young season as Billy Gribbin netted three goals and added an assist in a 13-11 victory over St. John’s on Saturday.

The Nittany Lions halted a six-game losing streak to begin the season, using a fourth quarter rally to erase a two-goal deficit and earn the win. Down 9-7, Penn State (1-6) outscored the Red Storm 6-2 in the final 15 minutes on the heels of Anthony Basciano’s back-to-back to tie the game and take the deciding advantage with six minutes, 43 seconds left to play.

It was Gribbin’s play that set the tone early for the Nittany Lions and kept the game close going into the fourth, as he scored Penn State’s first two goals of the afternoon. After tying the score at one apiece with the help of a Kyle VanThof assist, Gribbin gave his team the edge by finding the net off of a Matthew Mackrides feed. Gribbin later cut into a 9-6 St. John’s (3-5) lead by scoring with 2:43 left to go in the third to keep the Nittany Lions at reach.

Gribbin received CAA Rookie of the Week honors for his play. He has now tallied 15 goals on the season at a shot percentage of 40, both good for second on the team.

Penn State’s 13 goals on Sunday were not an aberration as it averages 10 goals per game. However, its problem has been keeping the ball out of its own net, giving up 13.71 goals per game.

The Nittany Lions’ schedule has not been an easy one having faced top 10 opponents such as No. 8 Duke (20-11 loss) and No. 3 Notre Dame (12-8 loss). With three out of six CAA opponents ranked in the top 15 and their in-conference schedule on deck, Penn State’s competition does not seem to be getting any easier.

Penn State will play for its second win of the season on Saturday as it hosts No. 8 Massachusetts.

Dan Gigliotti can be reached at [email protected]