Drexel vs. Villanova
April 30, 2008
The Game Story:
Philadelphia – In a fashion reminiscent of the teams’ last meeting just four days before, Drexel pulled out to a sizeable lead and held on for the victory over Villanova in the semifinals of the CAA Championship. Drexel led 7-1 at halftime after outshooting Villanova 21-12 in the first 30 minutes of play. Colin Ambler led the Dragons’ attack with three goals and two assists. The Dragons (13-3) capitalized on all three of their extra-man opportunities in the game and the team’s stifling defense allowed the Wildcats (5-10) just one goal when the teams were at even strength. Bruce Bickford made seven saves between the posts for Drexel.

Eight players tallied for Drexel, who outshot the Wildcats 39-26 in the game. Jon Van Houten assisted on two goals and scored one of his own and Greg Casey put in two goals for Drexel as well. Tim Atkins assisted on two Villanova goals and also scored one for the ‘Cats.

Drexel jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first quarter, capitalizing on two man-up opportunities in the final six minutes of the period and outshot the Wildcats 11-3 to open the game. The Dragons broke through with the first score of the game with 5:44 in the period when Jon Van Houten fed a cutting Colin Ambler on a man-up opportunity. Andrew Chapman made it a 2-0 game when he cleaned up a shovel pass from Kevin Stockel off a rebound for his 39th goal of the season. Stockel also assisted on the Dragons’ third goal with Greg Casey coming out as the beneficiary of the feed with 23 seconds left in the quarter.

After getting off to a slow start in the first period it took the Dragons just under a minute and a half to put in their fourth tally. Long stickman Steve Grossi flung in his second goal of the season off a pass from Adam Dennis from behind the net. Greg Casey converted the team’s third man-up opportunity of the game at the 9:25 mark to make it 5-0 Drexel. The Dragons dispersed two man-down situations without allowing the ‘Cats to score. But Villanova finally found the net with 6:35 left while holding a man advantage. The Wildcats’ leading scorer Tim Driscoll converted the chance on a pass from Chris Ficke.

Drexel closed out scoring in the second quarter with a pair of goals in the final two minutes. Van Houten scooped up a ground ball in the Dragons’ defensive half and sprinted into the attack zone before blasting a shot past Andrew DiLoreto to give Drexel a 6-1 lead. Ambler notched his second of the game with 1:10 remaining to give the Dragons a 7-1 lead going into the locker room. In a statement play in the waning seconds of the half the Dragons’ defense stymied attackman Paul Webber in front of the net, dislodging the ball as he turned to take a shot, time expired as the ball harmlessly rolled away.

The Dragons outshot Villanova 21-12 in the half but the Wildcats outbattled the Dragons on faceoffs, winning 6-of-10 duels in the X. Both goalies made four saves in the half for their respective squads.

Villanova made good on both of its man-up opportunities in the third quarter, scoring at the 11:32 mark and with one second remaining to make it an 8-3 game heading into the final stanza. Drexel’s lone goal of the period came off the stick of Scott Perri off a feed in traffic from Colin Ambler at the 2:39 mark in the quarter.

Ambler took advantage of an accurate outlet pass by Bruce Bickford to score a quick transition goal just under three minutes into the final period, making it a 9-3 Drexel game. The teams went six minutes without a goal before a flurry of scoring erupted after the 6:04 mark, started by a slashing drive across the crease by Joe Wojciechowski. The teams exchanged goals over the next 30 seconds with Mike Brennan scoring for the ‘Cats and Dennis matching the tally for the Dragons. Paul Webber converted Villanova’s fourth man-up goal of the evening to make it 11-5 with 3:35 remaining. It would be the last goal of the game as Drexel maintained possession and in a display of good team discipline, bled the clock until expiration.

The victory sends Drexel to the CAA Championship finals for the first time ever. The Dragons will meet Hofstra in the championship in a reprise of a thrilling double-overtime Drexel victory on March 29 at Vidas Field. After advancing for the first time ever in CAA postseason play, Drexel will host the championship game at 5:00 p.m. on Saturday, May 3.