PHILADELPHIA - Five years to the day after the Drexel men's lacrosse team opened its season by going into Charlottesville and knocking off No. 1 Virginia, the Dragons looked poised for a similar start to their year in 2012. Drexel went shot-for-shot with the defending national champions in each team's season opener in front of 2,331 at Vidas Field on Saturday afternoon, but fell just short as the Cavaliers escaped with a 9-8 defeat of the Dragons.
Brendan Glynn and Nick Trizano scored twice for the Dragons, who have not won a season opener since that 11-10 triumph over Virginia in 2007. Drexel led Saturday's game by a goal midway through the fourth quarter before Virginia scored twice to grab the win.
The Cavaliers got the scoring started early, scoring less than 3:30 into the game and making it 2-1 with 3:18 remaining in the first quarter. Deven Thomas won the ensuing faceoff, however, and streaked down the middle of the field, finding an open Glynn for an equalizing goal just six seconds later.
In the second quarter, the Dragons would build a two-goal lead with strong defense and goals from Trizano and Ryan Belka. Virginia looked out of sorts in the face of the Drexel defense, committing several sloppy turnovers and going without a goal for nearly an entire quarter of game time. That drought ended with 4:37 to play in the half, when Matt White pulled the Cavaliers back within a goal at 4-3. The score would remain that way heading into the intermission.
Drexel outshot Virginia 23-11 in the first half, and 41-24 overall. Goalkeeper Mark Manos stopped four of the seven shots Virginia put on goal in the first half. He would finish with five saves overall, while Virginia keeper Rob Fortunato had 11 saves on the day including five in the first half.
The Cavaliers stormed out of the gates to open the second half, scoring twice in the first four minutes of the third quarter to regain a 5-4 lead. Robert Church stopped that run with his game-tying goal with 10:30 to play in the quarter, an unassisted look at the net. But Virginia answered with two more scores, both by Owen Van Arsdale as they took a 7-5 lead.
With 2:16 to play in the third quarter and Drexel nearing the end of a man-up opportunity brought on by a Chris Clements crosschecking penalty, Kevin Stockel received a pass from behind the net and slammed it home, bringing the Dragons back within a goal. Then, with 33 seconds remaining in the frame, Matt Dusek created a turnover by the Cavaliers, picked up by Andrew Collins. He charged the ball upfield and found Glynn open to the right of the net, who ripped his second goal of the game with just three ticks remaining in the period.
The score was tied headed into the fourth quarter. Virginia won the opening faceoff, but a save by Manos created a Drexel offensive opportunity. After two shots went wide, Trizano got his second goal with 10:08 remaining, giving the Dragons an 8-7 lead.
Just over two minutes later, Bobby Hill knotted things back up with a score off a feed from Scott McWilliams. Drexel won the faceoff and would eventually get a good look straight on from Aaron Prosser, but the shot was blocked and Virginia picked it up. A minute later, Rob Emery scored what would be the game-winner off a pass from Colin Briggs.
Another Virginia turnover with 2:12 to play gave the Dragons one last chance, but shots by Kyle Bergman and Stockel went wide, the last coming with just under a minute to play. Virginia had a man closest to the second shot as it went out of bounds, and regained possession with 54 seconds remaining. They managed to run out the clock from there and preserve the victory.
Drexel will now play its next two games on the road, starting with a visit to Albany next Saturday at 1:00 p.m. They will next be at home on March 3, when they take on No. 9 Notre Dame at 1:00 p.m.