The reigning National Champion and current #1, Virginia Cavaliers, traveled to Philadelphia to take on the Drexel Dragons at the Haverford School. Someone forgot to tell Drexel that Virginia was ranked #1 as early it looked like it may be a close game. Drexel sophomore, Mike Filippone, beat Virgina’s Jack deVilliers on the opening faceoff and the Drexel offense would proceed to hold the ball for a little under the first five minutes. Despite not being able to get a goal in the possession, they did establish that their offense would be patient, looking to move the ball and not force bad shots. However, as soon as Virginia got the ball on their offensive side for the second time (the first had ended in John Christmas dropping a pass and Drexel bringing it right back to attempt to run their offense), it became clear that Drexel couldn’t afford to be patient as John Christmas tallied the first goal unassisted 4:59 into the game for the first goal of the 2004 Virginia Cavaliers season. Virginia never looked back as they took the first win of the season, due to a lopsided 15-4 victory.
A minute after the Christmas tally, Justin Mullen added a goal off a feed from Kyle Dixon. Three minutes later, Ted Lamade did it himself and made it a 3-0 Virginia lead. Christmas took the ball off of a stoppage from the wing with about four minutes to go, proceeded to beat his man with his shifty speed and fed Matt Ward for the goal. Virginia tried to make it a five goal lead heading into the second, as a shot sailed wide of the net John Christmas handled the errant shot from the X-position, and immediately fed the crease. Drexel’s goalie, Ryan Harney made a brilliant save with one hand on his stick on the point blank shot to stop further damage.
Drexel would strike first in the second period, nineteen seconds in, as Jesse Rumble fed Mike Filippone who faked low and proceeded to stick it with his left right under the crossbar. Virginia responded with the next four goals, the first by Kyle Dixon as he pulled a nice right-to-left split dodge off and stuck it in the corner. The second was a man-up opportunity where Virginia displayed great ball movement. Ted Lamade added his second goal with 1:54 left in the second as he placed a left shot off-hip of Harney’s non-stick side and just squeezed it inside the post. Yevoli made his presence felt thirty seconds later as he used his great change-of-direction speed to draw a double team, he then fed Ward for Ward’s second of the day. Virginia held an 8-1 advantage at the half.
The third period started with both teams each killing a man-down opportunity (or not taking advantage of a man-up opportunity, depending on which way you want to look at it). Virginia would add three more goals in this quarter, as Nathan Kenney added an unassisted goal in an unsettled play, Joe Yevoli again showed his quickness as he executed a perfect right-to-left split dodge from X and finished the wrap-around goal. Hunter Cass added an unassisted goal with 19 seconds remaining after a great save by Tillman Johnson, and then a great clear by Drew Thompson as he displayed his breakaway speed.
The final period provided the most offensive excitement as seven goals were scored, with Virgina having four of those. Drexel struck first, as junior Sean Moloney gave a little shoulder dip, which caused Tillman Johnson to bite just enough that he could put it in the upper corner. 45 seconds later, Christmas again displayed his footwork as he drove from X, fell but managed to feed sophomore Matt Poskay who put the ball away on a nice behind-the-back shot. Drexel would add goals by sophomores Jesse Rumble and Yoni Cohen (man-up). Virginia’s Kenney and Dixon would add their second goals, and Mike Abbott got into the action with his first of the season.
Four Virginia players had two goals on the day: sophomores Kyle Dixon and Matt Ward, and juniors Ted Lamade and Nathan Kenney. John Christmas also added a goal and two assists, while Joe Yevoli chipped in a goal and an assist. In 46 minutes, Tillman Johnson had seven saves.
The big story of the game was easily the play of Drexel’s sophomore goalie, Ryan Harney. In 49 minutes of action, he stopped 15 shots, not all of which were routine. Had Harney not played as well as he did, the game could have been a bigger blowout than the score now stands. While all eyes were tuned in to Tillman Johnson last year’s Goalie of the Year and first team All-American, Harney proved that he could play as well, and today outplayed Tillman. However, in Johnson’s defense, he didn’t face nearly the amount of shots, or quality shots that Harney did. Harney forced the Cavs to beat him on great shots, which they were able to do.
The rust appeared to be there for both squads, as Virginia didn’t seem to be at the level they were in on Memorial Day. Drexel looked impressive in a lot of aspects of their game, specifically ball movement in their steady controlled offense. Their defenseman struggled with Virginia’s all-american attack, had Christmas and Yevoli been able to keep better footing on the Haverford School turf, they undoubtedly would have added more points. Drexel also seems to lack an offensive playmaker. They were able to establish long possessions, but it seemed that no one wanted to go to the cage as needed. Virginia outshot Drexel 46 to 29, with many of those Drexel shots not coming until the fourth period. Specifically when they had the offensive opportunities in the first period they only attempted three shots.
Both teams were pretty well matched in the faceoff circle. Drexel held a slight advantage at 12-23. This is an area that the Cavaliers will have to improve upon if they hope to defend their championship. The Cavaliers also had a couple of freshman put in some work, as freshman longpole Ricky Smith displayed some of his abilities with three groundballs and two forced turnovers. His play was reminiscent of the stick-waving style of Chris Passavia of Maryland, it should be fun to watch him progress. Freshman Kip Turner got a few minutes in net for the Cavaliers and played solidly stopping two shots and not giving up a goal. Redshirt junior Ryan Thompson also saw a few minutes for Virginia as he added a save to two goals allowed. Freshman Drew Thompson also got his first game action for Virginia as he scooped up two groundballs and displayed his speed.
Talking with John Christmas after the game, he had this to say about the defense, “I think we have the defense there, they played really well today. It may take us some time in other areas, but we’re all confident it’s going to come together.” While Drexel did have trouble shooting and finding shots, a lot of that can be due to the Virginia defense, who played a solid game, not giving Drexel the opportunities to take easy shots.
Virginia heads to Air Force next Saturday for their next game and Drexel heads to Lafayette.
|Sean Moloney||(1, 1)|
|Jesse Rumble||(2, 0)|
|Yoni Cohen||(1, 0)|
|Mike Filippone||(0, 1)|
|Joe Fiore||(0, 1)|
|Ryan Harney||15 (0.500)|