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Q&A with Doug Hess August 30, 2011

Posted by Sam Angell in Men's Soccer.
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The Drexel men’s soccer team begins its season Wednesday afternoon at Villanova. Recently, we sat down with second-year head coach Doug Hess to discuss his thoughts on the upcoming season and the Dragons’ first opponent, Villanova.

Hess also took the time to answer a few more questions giving fans a more detailed idea of what they can expect from the 2011 Dragons.

Q: Last year as you were preparing to enter your first season here at Drexel, you said that you were less concerned with wins and losses than establishing the program. How much progress do you feel the team made last year? How has that focus shifted heading into Year Two?

Doug Hess: “I am not so sure the focus has shifted much from where we were last year.  Obviously we want to win more and such, but the reality is we are still building a program and not a season.  We want to build a consistent conference contender and to do so takes time.  I do believe we are another step forward in that direction.  The guys had a solid spring season and we want to continue with that momentum.

“I do believe we are better than we were last year.  Time helps growth.  We are another year into it and further along in understanding what one another wants and expects.  I am certain we will have our share of growing pains through the fall, but I am confident that this program is moving in the right direction.”

Q: This year’s team doesn’t have a whole lot of senior leadership. How much of a challenge is that going to be for the underclassmen, and how much of a benefit will that be as they progress through the rest of their careers? Conversely, what are your expectations for Andrew Goldberg as the senior on the squad, and who else do you view as leaders?

DH: “I do not believe for a moment that you need to be an upperclassman or a senior or a certain age to be a leader.  To be a leader you need experience and of our returning nineteen players, fifteen of them started in at least two games or more last year.  All nineteen, plus two that joined us in January, started at least one game in the spring.  This translates to college experience, which breeds familiarity, and with that, understanding. 

“Andrew is having his last go at it and of course we expect a lot of him.  Mostly, we want him to be an example of consistency.  He is a guy that needs to lead our attack and be a continual presence in the final third of the field.”

Q: Speaking of the youth on the team, the Dragons will feature seven freshmen. How much of an impact do you anticipate them having on the field right off the bat, and what are some of your goals for them in their first collegiate season?

DH: “It is always interesting to see how a new group of guys meshes in with those that have established themselves on the team already.  With another large group of newcomers, no doubt the most important thing will be getting them familiar with how we do things—from training to fitness to lifting to taking care of ourselves.  It is imperative that we get these guys acclimatized to our team.  The quicker they can, the bigger the impact they can make.

“I am confident they will make an impact in our team.  Whether that is on the field right away or making training that much more competitive, they will have a role to fill.  It is a college soccer season where you play a lot of games in a short period of time.  This being the case, we will see injury, we will see a dip in performance and we may have two non-results tied together.  When this happens, the depth of your team is challenged.  These seven newcomers have added to the depth of our team and who knows, we may see one of them find their way into the mix straight away.”

Q: The team’s top four goal scorers from last season are back this year. Will that help the offensive consistency of a team that showed the potential to be a strong attack last year?

DH: “It is always a positive to return guys that have scored for you in the past—if you have scored in the past; you are more likely to score in the future.  Pagey, G, and Malcolm were a big part of making us tick up front last year and they will be equally important to us this fall. 

“Last year we scored twenty-nine goals, the most for Drexel since 2002, and were balanced in our scoring—six different guys scored three or more goals.  These are good qualities to have within a team, but we are still looking for that consistent goal scorer.  It has been some time since we had a 10+ goal scorer for the Dragons (the ’94 season to be exact) and it will be fun to see if one emerges this fall.  I do believe we have several guys that are capable of the task.

Q: The starting goalkeeper job went back and forth a little bit last season, especially early on. Fill us in on how that competition stands heading into this year.

DH: “Hopefully, it will be equally competitive.  The goalkeeper position must have the most competition in order to ensure that the one that plays is at his sharpest.  While Pentti established himself as the one last year, he knows that both Tres and Tim are in the mind to challenge that spot.

“Cory [Robertson] has done a great job with creating the competitive environment for all of our goalkeepers in training.  Now it is just a matter of establishing who will be the most consistent and therefore, grab the top spot.”

Q: Defensively, who will you be relying upon to anchor the group, and what do you hope to see out of that end of the field?

DH: “While it is clear that both Tal and Kenny anchor us defensively at the back and in the midfield respectively, it is essential our team buys into eleven, engaged players when we are not in possession of the ball.  While both guys can do a lot for us individually, it is the collective whole that will solve the game for us. 

“It is no secret we gave too many goals last season, twenty-seven total.   We have grown a lot in this area in the transition of fall last year to spring to the current fall season.  Our ability to defend in all areas of the field, in varying situations, is as important as our ability to create goal-scoring opportunities.

Q: You’ve said that you believe the midfield is where most games are won and lost. How is this year’s team equipped in that area?

DH: “This is true, it is a soccer philosophical belief of mine that most games are won and lost between the boxes.  If you can control that area of the field, albeit offensively or defensively, you can often control the tempo of the game. 

“It is vital to my teams to have a midfield with traits of creativity, high levels of fitness, patience, composure, as well as awareness since the game is played in all directions.  Kenny, Phil, Brandon and John all played strong roles last year in establishing a workman-like midfield and will do so again this year.   

“All that being said, soccer is still a game of moments and if you can be at your best in the right moments, you can find ways to win games.”

Q: What is your outlook on the Colonial Athletic Association race this year?

DH: “I am not sure a crystal ball could even predict this one.  I believe there are the perennial front-runners as the pre-season rankings show, but no one earns a championship in the pre-season and the games still need to be played.  I say it at the start of every year, conference games are conference games and in the Colonial it is no different. 

“Last year after nine rounds of intra-league play, just four points separated second place from last—that’s crazy!  This conference is so tight, last year 73% of all sixty-six games were decided by a goal or less, again that is crazy.  It is clear to me that you are never out of it in the Colonial.  Games need to be played and games need to be finished off, the moment you think you can take breath or relax, someone is going to be gunning for you.  One thing is for certain; it will be a roller-coaster ride!”

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The Pin and the Dive August 30, 2011

Posted by Sam Angell in Men's Squash, Women's Squash, Wrestling.
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Just got out of the Athletics staff luncheon, where Director of Athletics Eric Zillmer and Deputy Director of Athletics Nick Gannon introduced the department’s two newest head coaches, Matt Azevedo (wrestling) and John White (men’s and women’s squash). By way of introduction, a few YouTube videos were shared of the new head Dragons in action in their respective sports. Now, here they are for your enjoyment:

Here’s a look at Coach Azevedo at the Poland Open. It’s a two-parter, but Azevedo was quick to point out that he pinned his man by the end of it.

And here is Coach White going all out to claim a rally at the Bear Stearns Tournament of Champions

Emergency Reading Material August 27, 2011

Posted by Sam Angell in Men's Basketball.
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Got your laptop battery charged? Looking for some reading material to keep you occupied as the minnows swim around your ankles? Excellent. This week, the Drexel men’s basketball program has gotten a little national publicity. If you somehow weren’t scanning the college basktball sites in mid-August (what else could possibly have gotten your attention in the news this week?!), you might have missed them. So here are a couple experts who think the Dragons could be in for a special season:

 

Andy Katz says “if there is  achance that a Northern team can finally break through this year, the one candidate is Drexel.” (ESPN.com)

Jeff Goodman writes that after Bruiser Flint opted to stay at Drexel, he now “has his best team (on paper) in his decade-long tenure at Drexel, a team that is likely to be favored to win the CAA this season.” (CBSSports.com)

Also, Jon Rothstein of MSG listed the Dragons as one of the “mid-major teams to watch,” along with Fairfield, Belmont and Iona on his Twitter feed, and expects them to be a favorite in the CAA along with George Mason. Meanwhile, Jay Bilas went on ESPN and said that he believed “this year’s George Mason in the CAA will be Drexel.”

 

Here Comes the Story of the Hurricane August 25, 2011

Posted by Sam Angell in Field Hockey, Women's Soccer.
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Friday’s home opener women’s soccer and season opener for field hockey are still on as scheduled, but Sunday’s home games for both teams have been pushed back a day due to the impending threat of bad weather caused by Hurricane Irene. The field hockey game against Fairfield will now be on Monday at 3:00 p.m., while women’s soccer will host Delaware State at 6:00 p.m.

Everyone in Philly has already survived one natural disaster this week. If a second one comes, stay safe over the weekend so we can see all you Dragons fans back at Vidas for Monday’s games. In the meantime, here’s something to get you started with your stormy weather playlists:

Now Entering the Dragons Den August 24, 2011

Posted by Sam Angell in General.
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Welcome to the Dragons Den, the official blog of Drexel Athletics, where we will be providing original text and video content that chronicles the world of Drexel athletics from all angles. Insider information, lighter fare, feature stories, and everything else – it will all be right here at the Den. We’ll also be combing the web to keep tabs on what other people have to say about the Dragons. This will be your one-stop-shop for Dragons sports. And while we’re at it, we hope to have a little fun – and we want you to join in the conversation! So welcome aboard, and keep coming back as we bring you inside the world of the Drexel Dragons.