PHILADELPHIA, PA 4/7/2012 – Two late goals by Shane Sturgis and Gavin Ahern lifted #16 Penn State to a 10 – 9 victory over the Drexel Dragons in men’s lacrosse at Vidas Field. This was the fifth one goal loss for the Dragons in six such games. The loss dropped Drexel from the unbeaten ranks in the CAA. Drexel committed 11 turnovers in the game compared to 6 for Penn State. Dragons Coach Brian Voelker said the turnovers and team not taking advantage of the opportunities presented to them turned the tide in this game.
“We just didn’t make enough plays,” said Voelker. “We got opportunities, we made big stops, Mark (Manos, Drexel goal keeper) made some saves, but we gave up 4 goals on our failed clears. Against a team like this, you know it’s going to be too close to make those kind of mistakes. We had opportunities at the end. We hit a pipe, but if breaks don’t go your way you’ve got to make your breaks. Those guys (Penn State) made their breaks and we didn’t.”
Penn State scored the first goal of the game, but that was quickly answered by Drexel goals by Senior midfielder Kyle Bergman, Junior attack Brendan Glynn, and Junior midfielder Aaron Prosser. The Dragons led 5 – 3 at halftime. Back to back scores by Freshman midfielders Ryan Belka and T.J. Foley early in the third quarter gave Drexel their largest lead at 7 – 3 with 10:17 remaining. Penn State began their comeback scoring 4 straight goals, two each by attackmen Matthew Mackrides and Jack Forster to tie the game at 7 after three-quarters of play.
Penn State took the lead in the fourth quarter on an unassisted goal by midfielder Nick Dolik. Prosser tied the game scoring as Drexel had a man advantage. Junior attack Robert Church scored his 19th goal of the season putting Drexel back in front 9 – 8 with 9:34 on the clock. Sturgis struck at the 5:43 mark to tie the game, then Ahern scored the game-winning goal with 2:45 on the clock.
In an attempt to tie it up Drexel controlled the ball in the last two minutes, but they would not find the tying tally. Prosser hit the post with 1:39 to go, Senior midfielder Kevin Stockel was wide with a shot with 1:21 remaining. Another shot with 57 seconds went wide. Then the Dragons turned the ball over with 37 seconds left to end their chances.
Drexel got 2 goals and 2 assists each from Prosser, Glynn, and Church to lead Drexel in scoring. Forster gave Penn State 3 goals and 3 assists. Mackrides scored 3 goals and added an assist. Penn State had 36 shots to 32 by Drexel. Dragons goal keeper Mark Manos made 10 saves while Nittany Lions goal keeper Austin Kaut saved 9. Penn State was perfect on 7 clears, while Drexel was 9 – 13.
“When you don’t clear the ball or make turnovers it’s going to come back and bite you, and it bit us today,” Voelker said.
The Dragons return to CAA action on April 14 against UMass in a game at Hofstra followed by a game at Towson. Those two teams entered the weekend along with Drexel as the only undefeated teams in the Colonial Athletic Association. The Dragons are 3 – 1 in conference and 5 – 6 overall. The end of the schedule is coming quickly. Drexel needs to keep moving in a positive direction.
“It’s the part of the season where you’ve got to keep plugging away,” said Voelker.
Written By: Glenn Papazian