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The Weekend of the Dragon September 25, 2012

Posted by Sam Angell in Field Hockey, General, Men's Soccer, Women's Soccer.
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While it was a tough weekend around town for the Philadelphia professional teams, it was quite the opposite out at the Vidas Athletic Complex at Drexel. Drexel’s three field sports, field hockey and men’s and women’s soccer went 4-0-1 this weekend and after all was said and done, all three were ranked regionally and one was in the national top 25.

It all started on Friday afternoon when the 23rd-ranked field hockey team got the ball rolling. Drexel gave up a goal in the first half, but tallied twice in the second half to edge James Madison, 2-1, its first Colonial Athletic Association game of the season at Vidas Field. Sophomore Christina Conrad scored the game-winning goal with just under seven minutes remaining in the game as the Dragons improved to 6-3 on the season. Amanda Fleischut scored the team’s other goal.

After field hockey, it was alumni night for the women’s soccer program. Approximately 20 former players showed up at the Kopp Lounge at the field house for a reception prior to the match between the Dragons, ranked sixth in the region, and George Mason. The Patriots stunned the crowd with a goal in the opening minutes, taking the early lead. It stayed that way until late in the match when sophomore Melissa Chapman’s header off a corner kick from Christine Stevenson evened it up at 1-1. The teams went to overtime before finishing the contest in a deadlock. With the tie, Drexel extended its unbeaten streak to eight matches, the longest streak in school history.

Saturday was a new day and the men’s soccer team had a daunting task in front of it. Not only was it the start of conference play, but Old Dominion would be making its last appearance as a CAA member at Vidas Field. The Monarchs, ranked as high as fourth in the nation entering the match, came in with a gaudy resume of six wins in six matches. Among their victims were No. 25 Navy, Seton Hall and Central Florida. But their most impressive win was a 2-1 victory at No. 2 Creighton in front of 6,800 rowdy fans. The Dragons felt good about themselves going in, but even the most confident fan couldn’t have seen this coming. Drexel scored two goals in the first 34 minutes on their way to a convincing 4-1 win.

Sophomore midfielder Michele Pataia had his first career multi-goal match with two scores. Mark Donohue and Fabio Machado also had goals, while Tim Washam made six stops in giving the Dragons their second win over a top-20 team in its last three home matches dating back to last year. With the win, the Dragons moved to 4-2-1 and entered the regional rankings for the first time this year at No. 9.

The Dragons capped off the weekend with two more games, two more wins and a pair of shutouts on Sunday. The field hockey team once again got it started at Buckley Field, this time with a 1-0 blanking of VCU. Junior forward Elise DiDonato scored the game-winning goal in the opening minutes of the second half for Coach Zelenak’s team and the defense held the Rams off the board the rest of the way. Sophomore Jantien Gunter recorded a career-best nine saves and her fourth shutout as Drexel picked up its seventh win of the season and handed VCU its first loss (7-1).

Just a few hundred yards away at the bottom of the hill on Vidas Field, the women’s soccer team was ready to try and duplicate field hockey’s success, and the Dragons did just that. It took a while as the visiting Towson Tigers bent but didn’t break in the first half as the teams went to intermission scoreless. The second half was a whole different story, as Drexel scored four times to remain unbeaten at home over the last two seasons. Chapman had another header for what proved to be the game-winner. After that the flood gates opened as Caitlin Gottier, Alex Vazquez and Jess Sarkisian scored for Coach Goon’s club. Eve Badana picked up her fifth shutout of the season, and the weekend at Vidas was complete.

For the first time since joining the league, Drexel had both a men’s and women’s CAA Player of the Week. Chapman got the award for the women, while Pataia got the award for the men. He was also named to the College Soccer News.com National Team of the Week. All three teams opened the CAA seasons with wins, but all know that one weekend at Vidas doesn’t make a season. There will be more battles ahead in conference play this weekend as field hockey travels to Towson, women’s soccer goes to both UNCW and Georgia State, while Coach Hess and his men travel to William & Mary.

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Men’s Soccer’s Day Off in Colorado September 5, 2012

Posted by Sam Angell in Men's Soccer.
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While women’s soccer was in Hawaii, the men’s soccer team was on a western trip of its own, visiting Colorado for games at Denver and Air Force. On the day off in between games, the Dragons got to take in some of the breathtaking Rocky Mountain scenery.

It’s no secret that the mountainous air in Colorado can do funny things to athletes. That was on the Dragons’ minds as they made the journey from Denver to Colorado Springs, going from 5,200 feet above sea level to 7,200 feet above. During the trip, the players sipped on gallon jugs of water. Staying hydrated was a key to adapting to the elevation.

For some of the players, the roadside scenery left them speechless. Not surprisingly, head coach Doug Hess had no such problem. During the drive, Hess and senior goalkeeper Tim Washam had a spirited debate about what Pikes Peak would sound like if it could talk. That is, if they’d let Pikes Peak get a word in edgewise.

The team went straight to the Air Force Academy, where the Dragons went to the field and began getting acclimated to being 2,000 feet higher than they were in the Mile High City, where they’d earned a 3-3 draw with the host Denver Pioneers. Air Force football was playing Northern Idaho in its season opener about five miles down the road, so campus was pretty quiet as the Dragons took to the field. The team played some 4 v. 1 (think “monkey in the middle”) with trainer Scott Ellis taking the brunt of the abuse for a half an hour of warmups.

After practice, the Dragons headed to the Garden of the Gods. They took photos and marveled at the natural wonders, particularly the Balanced Rock area of the Garden. John Grosh is among those pictured below at the Balanced Rock, while Malcolm LeBourne paid tribute to a former Colorado hero, Tim Tebow.

The visit to the Garden of the Gods concluded with Coach Hess challenging his players to a run up the hill. Unfortunately for him, he remembered pretty quickly that the oxygen levels were no joke. In the end, he was content just to make it to the top, whether it was first or last.

The conditioning paid off for the guys, however. Twenty-four hours later, the Dragons got their first win of the season by knocking off the host Falcons, 2-1 in overtime. Matheus Goncalves got his first two collegiate goals, as the Massachusetts native had no trouble adjusting to life 7,000 feet above the sea.

Women’s Soccer Says Aloha: Part 2 September 4, 2012

Posted by Sam Angell in Women's Soccer.
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More from Assistant Coach Don Overmier as the Dragons wrapped up their visit to Hawaii:
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Subject:  Drexel Women’s Soccer: HI Trip Journal – Day 3 part 2

Aloha,
Just finishing up day 4 here in Honolulu but more on that later.  Here is a recap of Day 3 from the perspective of our team Journalist, Jules…

Day 3-
Aloha!  Although coaches let us sleep in today, I could only stay asleep until 6AM.  I guess I am still struggling with the time difference.  Anyways, I didn’t mind being up that early.  I was able to go take a walk along the beach and since everything was still closed here, it was very peaceful.  We got to watch some surfers and just listen to the waves.  It was nice to take in the culture of this beautiful place.  Now were back and getting ready to head to Pearl Harbor.  Can’t wait!

Pearl Harbor was really cool.  They showed us a video at the beginning of the tour which outlined to everyone the history behind the attack.  After the video the whole auditorium was in complete silence.  It was very sad to learn about how 2,400 US soldiers, marines and civilians were killed, and another 1,200 injured.  It was even worse when we got on the memorial and we were able to see oil still leaking in the water.  70 years later and we still can see it.  It was very sad.  After this tour I definitely have a deeper appreciation for all the men that fought.  Although I learned about it in my history classes growing up, it never really impacted me.  Coming here and experiencing this definitely gave me a different view on this terrible event that occurred.  I will forever remember this tour and will always think back on it every December 7th from now on.

We just got back from such a fun evening.  We went to a local park by Lauren’s house and hosted a clinic for the younger girls in Lauren’s club.  The girls were so adorable!  They were the most friendly and outgoing group of little soccer players.  It brought me back to when I was their age and how excited I used to get for little clinics like this.  After the clinic we exchanged gifts.  The girls gave all of us fresh flower leis, a Hawaii pin and a mini soccer stress balls (which could have been very helpful during our game on Friday!).  We gave them a Drexel Soccer sticker and our team picture from this year.  The girls then went around and got all of our autographs on the picture, their shirts and their soccer balls.  It was a rather long autograph session!  After, we were fed by all the parents of the girls.  The food was amazing and so interesting.  They had everything you could imagine, most of it I don’t even know the names of.  It was real authentic homemade Hawaiian food.  They had this one dessert that everyone seemed to love.  It was pineapple with this powder called ‘Li Hing’ sprinkled on top.  It was so good that once we were back at the hotel we went to go find it in the stores to bring home!  After dinner we got a personal Hula lesson from our very own Lauren Stollar.  The younger girls were also showing us how to do it.  They were great, me…not so much.  It was so fun to learn and hilarious to watch us try.  Definitely won’t forget this night!  Now it’s time for bed, game day tomorrow!  GO DU!!!
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Aloha,
Here is another entry from our team Journalist, Jules about day 4 of our amazing journey as well as a photo of the team at our clinic on Day 3.  Lauren Stollar and her younger sister Rachel are teaching the team how to hula…

Hi everyone!  Game day today!  The team is very excited to play.  We just got back from our pregame breakfast and are leaving for the field in about an hour.  Lets go Drexel!

We won, 4-0!!  We started off strong with a goal from Sammy.  It came off a cross from Cait and Sammy was able to volley it right in.  The next goal was from the Hawaiian native Lauren.  She got a through ball in from JLo (Jess Lowinger) and was able to get a great shot off and scored.  The third goal was off a PK.  Freshie Gabby Dixon got tripped right in the box.  She answered back by scoring the PK.  The 4th goal was a pass from another freshman, Abby Toner into the feet of Andi.  Andi flew down the sideline bypassing their backline and scored.  These 4 goals all occurred in the first half.  The second half we fought to keep the lead allowing us to gain a shutout.  Great job today ladies! We are now 4-1-1!!

We just got back from walking around town.  The Stollar family graciously treated the team to frozen yogurt and then we all went off on our own.  I started off at the beach and watched the sunset.  It was beautiful.  Words don’t even do it justice.  Everyone was able to take some pictures so we can share it with everyone at home.  After we goofed around on the beach for a while and we went to a live Hula show.  It was so cool to watch the dancers.  All the movements were so graceful and their outfits were gorgeous.  I am so happy we got to watch that.  After that I went shopping some more.  The shops are so interesting.  The place that we have all been going is called the International Market Place.  I actually think I have been there every day and probably bought something every day… good thing for paid co-ops!!

Most of us are waking up early tomorrow to doing all sorts of things.  Some are taking a hike to see the sunrise, some are going snorkeling, and some are just going around seeing different sites in Hawaii.  It should be a fun day!

It makes me sad to think that this is our last night here.  I wouldn’t mind ‘accidentally’ missing our flight tomorrow.  This island is too beautiful to leave and everyone is so nice.  I am so grateful to have had this experience.  Thank you to all that helped send us here!!

As a side note, we all want to thank the Stollar family and friends for everything this trip.  They have helped us out in every way possible!  Tour guides, our supporters at the game, as well as providing us with some authentic Hawaiian cuisine.  They really have made this trip so special.  Thank you again!!

Mahalo,
Drexel Women’s Soccer

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Aloha,
With our games completed it was time to fully experience Waikiki.  The team had the final day to focus on seeing the sites, relaxing on the beach and of course shopping.  The team went on a quest to capture sunrise on Diamond Head (along with most everyone else in Waikiki).  The crowd made it a challenge but they worked their way to the top of the dormant volcano and got to experience the amazing view of the eastern side of Oahu.  The team spent the remainder of the morning and early afternoon shopping and relaxing on the beach.  A few adventurous Dragons even tried surfing.

We made our way back to Honolulu airport late in the afternoon for our red eye flight back to Newark Airport.  Everything went smoothly and the flight was very quiet with most of the group trying to sleep the majority of the time.  We were greeted back on campus with what is called a blessing in Hawaii but was more like a torrential downpour in Philadelphia.

The trip was a once in a lifetime experience between the competitive soccer, the remarkable setting of Oahu and the extremely gracious hospitality of everyone we encountered.  We would like to thank everyone for their generous support in helping us make this trip a reality.  The memories made helped bring the team closer together and everyone will be able to look back on this trip as a major moment in their college soccer careers.

We now look forward to attaining our team goal of making the conference playoffs.

“Mahalo nui loa” for everyone’s support!  Attached is one last photo of the team and the youth player’s together at the clinic.

Drexel Women’s Soccer

Women’s Soccer Says Aloha September 2, 2012

Posted by Sam Angell in Women's Soccer.
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The Drexel women’s soccer team has been in Hawaii for three days now, earning a tie with Hawaii in its first game in the Aloha State. They’ll have one more game and two more days there, but in the meantime, hear from assistant coach Don Overmier as he describes the experience for the team:

Subject: Drexel Women’s Soccer: HI Trip Journal – Day 1

Drexel Women’s Soccer Supporters,
It seems like it was only yesterday that we finalized our decision to take on this long road trip to Hawaii.  Here we sit in the airport waiting to board our plane bound for Honolulu.  The team is very excited and extremely grateful for all of the support we have received from our family and friends.  Our trip would not have been possible without all of your financial support.

We will be recording video, taking photos and we even have a few players that will be keeping a journal of our trip so that you all can experience it along with us.  We hope to keep you updated a few times a day with different releases.

Stay tuned for more updates and thank you again for all of your support.

Regards,
Drexel Women’s Soccer
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Subject: Drexel Women’s Soccer: HI Trip Journal – Day 1 part 2

Aloha,
We arrived in Honolulu after a problem free flight.  The players were greeted in the airport (see attached photo) by the Stollar Family with authentic leis, snacks and water.  Once our baggage and transportation for the weekend was secured we headed off to the hotel, Ohana Waikiki East, in the center of Waikiki.  The team had a little free time to visit the beach and attempt to stay up a little later to help get acclimated to the time zone change, a challenging thing to do once they realize that 8:00pm HST is 2:00pm EST.

Tomorrow we focus on playing U. of Hawaii (7:00pm HST), the main reason for our trip.  Hopefully we will not have a problem with players falling asleep at half time:)

Keep on the look-out for more updates and Mahalo for all of your support.

Drexel Women’s Soccer

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Subject: Drexel Women’s Soccer: HI Trip Journal – Day 2

Aloha,
Here is another update from Jules about Day 2 of our amazing Hawaiian experience as well as a photo of the team after our game…

We just arrived back from breakfast.  They had this “Coconut Syrup” which we all tried.  It was pretty sweet but very yummy!  Now we have a little bit of time before we head to practice.  Some of the girls headed to the beach to see it during daylight, others went to get gifts for people back home.  It seems like everyone is enjoying themselves!

Practice went well today.  CeCe (our athletic trainer) showed off her soccer skills which was quite entertaining.  Everyone is getting excited for the game.  We have a little bit of time before we leave for our pregame meal and then for the game.  Most of the girls are napping to make sure they are well energized for our game tonight.

It is currently 11:11 PM here in Hawaii, we are just returning from the game.  As I am sure most of you have already heard, we ended up with a tie of 3-3.  It was one of the most intense games we’ve had.  They were very quick and skillful players.  We were up 2-0 at half, with goals from Alex and Civanni.  Come the second half, Hawaii had two set plays and scored on both of them.  It remained a tie 2-2 for a while and then Hawaii scored.  We couldn’t believe it.  We were just up 2-0 and now we were down 3-2?  But we didn’t let that stop us.  We fought and fought and with only 11.7 seconds left in the game, Civanni scored off a set play by Jourdan.  11.7 seconds!  I still can’t believe it!  We ended the game in a tie 3-3 which meant overtime.  For those of you unaware, overtime is 2 ten minute halves.  Once a team scores however, the game is over.  If no one scores, the game remains a tie.  After another 20 hard minutes of fighting, the game remained a tie.

After the game we were fed a post game meal with the University of Hawaii.  We had salad, corn, rice, pulled pork, pasta salad, fruit salad, and cookies.  It was very yummy!  Now we are back in the hotel getting ready for bed.  Considering it is 5:23 AM EST, we are all very tired.  Coaches are letting us sleep in since we had such a long night!!  Tomorrow we are heading to Pearl Harbor and are running a clinic for Lauren’s club team which I am very excited for.  Goodnight!

Mahalo,
Drexel Women’s Soccer

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Aloha,
We had a fantastic day off between games.  After a late night, we had the opportunity to sleep in but not being adjusted to the time difference most everyone got up pretty early.  A relaxing morning was definitely deserved after a long, hard fought game against Hawaii.

The team visited the Pearl Harbor Visitors Center and the USS Arizona Memorial, experiencing the history of United States’ entry into WWII and the resting place of so many military personnel and civilians that lost their lives in the tragic event in December of 1941.

Afterwards, we took part in a clinic with youth players from the Honolulu Bulls, Lauren’s club.  Everyone had a lot of fun working with the younger soccer players and afterwards their families held an amazing pot luck meal with all kinds of authentic Hawaiian food.  It was a very festive event and a great opportunity for our team to work with some up and coming talented players.

We play our second game of the weekend on Sunday against UH-Hilo at 2:00pm HST.

Mahalo,
Drexel Women’s Soccer

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Title Tilt: Drexel vs. VCU Live Blog March 5, 2012

Posted by Sam Angell in Men's Basketball.
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A season that started at 6:00 am in a tiny gym at Rider University in New Jersey reaches a climax tonight in Richmond. The Drexel Dragons, the top seed in the CAA Tournament, will battle second-seeded VCU at the Richmond Coliseum for the CAA title and an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. Join us here, as we live blog highlights and inside looks live from Richmond, where a sizable and very loud contingent of Dragon fans, including a few hundred DAC Pack members, go up against the hometown Rams, less than a year removed from a Final Four.

6:17 pm: Arrived at seats just a few rows behind the Drexel bench. Women’s assistant coach James Clark made sure fan-favorite Coach Calvin Hicks was looking his best, telling the loudest Drexel fan to tuck in his shirt. He’ll be on ESPN tonight, so it’s good advice that Calvin is quick to follow.

6:24: Daryl McCoy dunked in warmups a few minutes ago and the backboard is still shaking. Safe to say the big man is up for tonight. The Coliseum basket supports however, might not be.

6:35: The Dragons take the court to the cheers of the DAC Pack. And the boos of 80% of the arena. Don’t look too fazed by it. Blurry, maybe…but not fazed.

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6:55: Stands getting full as both teams are on the court now. Tip off just minutes away, Bruiser Flint is fashionably late to the court. Now he enters, with Matt Collier and Mike Connors, to the cheers of the DAC Pack. Meets VCU coach Shaka Smart at midcourt for a pregame handshake.

7:00: “And now, for the Number One-seeded Dragons of Drexel University”

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7:09: First media timeout with 15:53 to go in the first, VCU leads 8-7. This crowd is, not surprisingly, overwhelmingly a VCU crowd, and Drexel isn’t taking them out of it early with two fast-break buckets for the Rams and a four-point play. Frantz Massenat with a couple very impressive drives to the hoop to key the Drexel offense.

7:16: Bizarre play earlier as VCU drove to the hoop. One ref called a block, the other a charge. Instead of choosing, both players were called for a foul and Drexel got the ball via the possession arrow. Never seen that before, anywhere. But maybe seeing something for the first time is a good sign for a Drexel team trying to be the first ever northern champion of the CAA.

7:21: Bruiser is not pleased with a couple calls, or lack thereof, in the last few possessions. He lets the officials hear it at the media timeout. VCU leads 12-9, 10:47 to play in the first half.

7:25: Samme Givens with a steal but he limps down to the other end. Looks ok on the next couple possessions but the Dragons have gone ice cold from the floor. Timeout Dragons, down 16-9 with 9:03 to play in the half.

7:57: Halftime, with the Dragons trailing 35-19. VCU’s pressure has stifled the Dragons’ offense, and the partisan crowd has been loud throughout. Bruiser has been trying to get in the guys’ heads that they are the better team and to play like it, but there’s no doubt the pressure has been a problem for the Dragons. Apologies for the lack of updates, as the Internet in the Coliseum has apparently been slowed by the VCU defense as well.

A New Perspective: How Golf Has Taught Samme Givens February 13, 2012

Posted by Sam Angell in Golf, Men's Basketball.
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So much of what makes an athlete successful is the ability to react and adapt; to change what it is that they do well and keep performing at a high level as circumstances require. In some instances, however, adaptability and flexibility are vices. One of those is a golf swing, particularly a putting motion. Another is a free throw in basketball. That is how Drexel head golf coach Mike Dynda came to assist senior men’s basketball standout Samme Givens become an even more reliable presence in the Dragons lineup.

‘When I have a player who needs work on his putting, you might think I’d change the mechanics to improve those guys,” Dynda remarked. “Sometimes they may need a little tweak here or there, but the reality is that making a change in learned motion requires repetition. Lots and lots of repetition.”

As the Philadelphia PGA Teacher of the Year and a skilled putter in his own right, Dynda knows what he is talking about. So after observing the Dragons at the free throw line, he decided it was time to see if he could help.

“I knocked on [men’s basketball head coach Bruiser Flint’s] door last January and asked if I could offer any help. Bru looked at my kind of funny at first when I told him that I had been videotaping his team at the line and had some data that would improve his team’s percentage, especially number 45.”

Number 45 was Givens, then a junior shooting 48 percent from the charity stripe. Flint responded that Samme did not have his elbow in the right place, and needed to correct his form. Dynda conceded that any mechanical adjustments were better left to the coaching staff, but Flint pressed on. If that was the case, he wondered, what could Coach Dynda offer to help?

“When I reviewed the video, I noticed that Samme did not have the same process for each free throw,” Dynda recalled. “Much like putting in golf, the player controls the ball and, for the most part, the time. There aren’t four hands in your face and people jumping around you. Time slows down. In putting, the pre-swing routine is just as important, if not more important, than the swing itself. I felt that the same was true for free throws.”

With Flint’s blessing, Dynda spoke with Associate Coach Mike Connors, showing him the video he had talked about with Flint.

“Sometimes he had three dribbles, others four,” Connors noted. “Sometimes he exhaled before a shot, others during. Coach Dynda was right on with his assessment of Samme’s process.”

With that as a starting point, Coach Connors took the advice to Samme, and the duo began working on Givens’ routine. The idea was to be efficient and identical on each and every free throw attempt, not only during games but also throughout practice sessions before, during and after the season.

“When the player controls the ball…man, that leaves a lot of time for demons to sneak in,” Dynda exclaimed. Developing a regular routine would help keep Givens and the rest of the Dragons focused, excluding external distractions and internal doubts.

For Givens, the lessons have paid off. The third-leading scorer on the team, Givens is averaging 12.0 points per game to help lead the Dragons to a 19-5 overall record and a spot atop the Colonial Athletic Association rankings. He has gone to the line a lot this season – 98 times, more than all but one of his teammates – and has hit 73.5 percent of his free throws. A full 3.0 points a game come from Givens at the line, crucial points for the Dragons as they look to close out close games in the league.

Givens’ numbers are up dramatically from last year, when he was a 52.9 percent free throw shooter, averaging just 2.4 points per game from the line. In fact, Givens has never finished higher than 59.1 percent from the free throw line in his career, a number he reached as a freshman when he was just 39-of-66 from the line.

Givens is not the only Dragon who has benefited from Dynda’s observations. As a team, the Dragons are hitting 73.7 percent from the line. Over the previous five years, the Dragons’ highest final number was just 68.6 percent in 2006-07, a year which saw them go 23-9 and earn a bid to the National Invitation Tournament. Drexel has its sights a little higher this season, and they’ll have to finish strong down the stretch to reach those goals. By sticking with the routine that has gotten them this far, they appear to be in good shape to do just that.

 

Rolling in the Deep with Devon Metcalf January 9, 2012

Posted by Sam Angell in Softball.
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Softball season is closer than you think, with Opening Day for the Dragons almost exactly one month away. For senior shortstop Devon Metcalf, the opportunity to share her extraordinary talents with the Drexel fanbase came a little early this year, though, as she was the featured performer at halftime of last night’s thrilling 64-58 victory over VCU.

Metcalf, accompanied by junior music industry major Sam Palumbo on guitar, took the court and rocked the DAC with a rendition of “Rolling in the Deep” by Adele that kept the crowd enthused and primed for the second half. The sellout crowd was raucous from tip to buzzer as they backed the Dragons to the victory, and no doubt there were some in the crowd who will be back in the spring to see Metcalf and her teammates on the diamond.

For those who didn’t get to see the show, head coach Kim Camara shot this video of the performance, and shares it with you all here:

Live Blogging the Tip Off: Drexel at Rider November 15, 2011

Posted by Sam Angell in Men's Basketball.
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3:29 am: Coming to you live from the Sunoco station at Broad and Catharine, where the journey to Rider begins. The Tip-Off Classic on ESPN is already three-and-a-half hours in. I’m with Drexel News Officer Britt Faulstick, Operations Assistant Zach Elsbecker, and Athletic Trainers Scott Ellis and Ryan Fries, and we have all decided to wake up before 3:00 am to drive to Lawrenceville, New Jersey for the Dragons’ season opener at Rider as part of this burgeoning annual ESPN event.

We’ll be updating throughout the morning on the road to Rider and from the arena. So keep your laptop refreshed next to the TV. Welcome back college basketball!

3:47 am: First stop: campus, where we pick up Assistant Director of Compliance Jesse Potter and Business Assistant Rachael Behrndt. Now back on Market Street, heading for 676 and up 95 to Jersey.

4:33 am: Arrived at Rider. Setting things up in the parking lot. There is a loud group of Rider students somewhere off in the distance, but we’ve got the breakfast set up all ready to go. Less than an hour and a half until tip!

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5:01 am: Chef Britt cooking up some ham, egg and cheese biscuits. This is getting real.

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5:20 am: Sports Information Graduate Assistant Chris Schieve has arrived, with his pickup truck and boom box in tow. If we weren’t awake already, we are now.

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5:54 am: And here we are. Big crowd already on hand as the CS Northridge/Hawaii game wraps up on ESPN in the lobby. Several Dragons WBB players are on hand to support the men as the season tips off. Here we go!

6:04 am: The Dragons are introduced. Packed crowd here in the tiny Alumni Gym. Gonna be a fun atmosphere…this place makes the DAC look like MSG.

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6:11 am: Just over three minutes in and Damion Lee has the Dragons’ first points of the season with a putback layup. 2-2 early on.

6:24 am: 11:07 to play in the first and the score is tied, 9-9. Call me crazy, but both teams look…a little tired. Shooting is a little cold and guys seem a half step slow. Still, there have been some good looks, including a block for Kazembe Abif on his first play with the Dragons. Don’t have numbers in front of me, but it feels like Drexel is doing a very good job on the offensive boards. Speaking of what it feels like…it is sweltering in here. A packed house will do that. The far sideline is completely full of Rider students, leaving half this side for Drexel and half for paying fans. Not sure if that’s the normal set up here, but it is a great noise factory right now.

6:41 am: That offensive board work has dried up and Drexel is facing a seven-point deficit after Rider goes on a 9-0 run. Bruiser Flint calls a timeout with his team in a bit of early foul trouble (Ruffin, McCoy and Abif each have two).

6:50 am: 1:15 to play in the half and Drexel has cut the lead to two, doing a good job in some chaotic situations where Rider knocked the ball out but couldn’t come up with the steal, and the Dragons found open men underneath. Rider calls a timeout now to resettle.

6:54 am: Drexel goes on a 10-3 run to close the half, and we are tied at 28. Nice resolve by the Dragons in the face of foul trouble and with a loud, hostile home crowd in their faces. Lee and Derrick Thomas did a great job during that run, especially defensively.

7:01 am: Givens has 8 points to lead the Dragons at the break. Lee has 7, along with 7 boards.

7:13 am: Drexel scores the first four points of the second half to take a four-point lead, it’s biggest of the game.

7:16 am: Givens is taking over now, scoring the last five points to make it 37-29 Dragons.

7:33 am: Franz Massenat just smoothly stepped into a three from the left wing and gave Drexel its largest lead of the night – err…morning – at nine. Then after a stop, Lee came down, put in a bucket and was fouled. He’ll have a free throw to make it a 12-point game after the timeout. 51-40 Dragons with 11:25 to go.

7:44 am: Drexel fans start the “where you going?” chant as a handful of Rider students head for the exits. Still a little early for that (both the taunting and the leaving), with Drexel up 60-44 and 7:48 to play.

7:51 am: Offensive rebounding keyed the Dragons’ big run, and now they can’t keep Rider from collecting their own offensive boards. 6:09 to play and they’ll have a free throw to cut the lead to 10. Givens just picked up his fourth foul.

7:58 am: A Franz leaner, a steal and a breakaway dunk for Lee brings the lead back up to 69-54 with 3:00 to play. That might have been the dagger as Rider calls timeout and the student section really starts to empty out. Eight am classes maybe?

8:08 am: Franz fouls out, but this is all but over as the Dragons lead by 18 with 44.7 seconds to go.

8:10 am: And it is all over from Rider. The Dragons win it, 80-62 and get their season off to a great start on national tv. Nice to have a win in your pocket at a time of day when you’d normally be just getting ready for work. The Dragons’ reward is a trip to the Paradise Jam in the Virgin Islands.

Thanks to everyone who checked in this morning! Until next time, Go Dragons!

A Player to Watch November 11, 2011

Posted by Sam Angell in Women's Basketball.
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The women’s basketball season tips off for real tonight, as the Dragons host Long Island in the first round of the Preseason WNIT. This promises to be an exciting year for the Dragons with four seniors leading the way for a team looking to recapture the CAA title and return to the NCAA Tournament.

One of those seniors, Kamile Nacickaite, was featured in a recent ESPN article by Graham Hays, in which Hays called Nacickaite one of the “Top mid-major players to watch.

In the story, Hays has this to say about the Drexel senior:

Schools shifting conferences is all the rage these days, but there’s no truth to the rumor that Drexel applied to play in the next European championship. Following in the footsteps of former Drexel standout Gabriela Marginean on a roster that rarely lacks for international flavor, Nacickaite is poised for big things this season. The Lithuanian guard averaged 17.6 points and 6.3 rebounds per game last season as a junior. She shot an astounding 47.8 percent from the 3-point line on 157 attempts, compared to 40.7 percent on 295 2-point attempts.

One other CAA player makes Hays’ list, VCU’s Courtney Hurt. Local fans might also be interested in Temple’s Shey Peddy, who was included in the rundown.

The DAC is getting ready for tip off tonight! If you’re in the area, be sure to stop by to see Nacickaite and the rest of the Dragons as they tip off the year. In the meantime, here’s a look at the season with head coach Denise Dillon in her first Coaches Show:

Kenny’s Game November 4, 2011

Posted by Sam Angell in Men's Soccer.
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Last week, as they sat waiting for word on whether or not their game with James Madison would be postponed (it was), the men’s soccer team found themselves with a little time on their hands. Not being one to sit around and do nothing, Ken Tribbett took charge of creating a new game to pass the time. Naturally, it became known as “Kenny’s Game.”

Similar to cornhole or horseshoes, the game involved teams of three trying to hit their opponent’s target or come closest to doing so. The targets, set up on tables in the team lounge, were stacks of 10 practice cones, with each player getting one shot per turn. Players got points for landing on the table (much harder than you might think), glancing off the target, leaning on the target, and a maximum of 10 points for landing directly on top of the target.

The teams were made up of Tribbett, Andrew Goldberg and trainer Scott Ellis on one side:

And John Boswell, Phillip Hagerty and assistant coach Cory Robertson on the other.

Not surprisingly, Ken took control early of his own game, with his team jumping out to a big lead early on the strength of a couple glancing blows and Ellis’ ability to land on the slick table surface. But momentum seemed to shift when a controversial ruling by Ken – it is his game, after all – negated a 10-point shot by Hagerty. Apparently Tribbett had called for a timeout to collect discs just before Hagerty released his shot, which landed perfectly on the stack of yellow cones on the opposite table.

The 10 points did not count, but Hagerty and the challengers had found their stroke. Soon, they were piling up the table shots and had quickly chipped away at the lead until they were dead even. Playing to 21, they pulled away late and won with a six-point turn, 21-16.

Despite his loss in the first officially-recognized playing of Kenny’s Game, Tribbett hopes that the game will soon be sweeping the nation. Is a TV deal in the works? Possibly. But for now, it’s sure to be a time-wasting tradition in the Drexel men’s soccer locker room.