NCAA Team Reviews: Drexel Dragons

Photo credit to Christian Jenkins/The Diamondback
Photo credit to Christian Jenkins/The Diamondback

For the better part of four months, many of us watched some exciting college lacrosse, whether it was on TV, online, or in person.  There were good games, which included all of Championship Weekend, and there were bad games, such as low scoring affairs and of course, the horrendous winter weather.  I take a look back at all 69 Division I teams and how they fared this season and what to look forward to in 2016.

Check out previous recaps: NJIT Highlanders, UMass Lowell River Hawks, VMI Keydets, Manhattan Jaspers, Canisius Golden Griffins, Robert Morris Colonials, St. John’s Red Storm, Wagner Seahawks, Binghamton Bearcats, Bellarmine Knights, Jacksonville Dolphins, Furman Paladins, Lafayette Leopards, Rutgers Scarlet Knights, Mount St. Mary’s Mountaineers, Siena Saints, Delaware Blue Hens, UMBC Retrievers, Dartmouth Big Green, Providence Friars, Mercer Bears, Penn State Nittany Lions, Hofstra Pride, Michigan Wolverines, UMass Minutemen, Monmouth Hawks, Vermont Catamounts, Sacred Heart Pioneers, Holy Cross Crusaders, Penn Quakers, Villanova Wildcats, Boston Terriers, Quinnipiac Bobcats, Hartford Hawks, Hobart Statesmen, Lehigh Mountain Hawks


2014 Record 13-5
2014 Conference Record 4-1 (2nd in CAA)
2014 Scoring Offense 11.61 Goals Per Game (16th in DI)
2014 Scoring Defense 10.33 Goals Against Per Game (33rd in DI)
2014 Goals Leader #9 Ben McIntosh – Senior (48 Gs)
2014 Assists Leader #13 Ryan Belka – Junior (21 As)
2014 Points Leader #9 Ben McIntosh – Senior (65 Pts)
2014 Goaltending Leader #8 Will Gabrielsen – Sophomore (.524 SV %)
2014 Face-Off Leader #16 Nick Saputo – Junior (.620 FO %)
2014 Ground Balls Leader #16 Nick Saputo – Junior (166 GBs)
2014 Caused Turnovers Leader #11 Matt Dusek – Senior (22 CTs)
2014 Quality Wins Albany (14-13), Hofstra (11-10 3 OT – CAA Championship), Penn (16-11 – NCAA First Round)
2014 Bad Losses Virginia (11-10), Villanova (11-10 OT), Bryant (12-6)


2015 Record 7-8
2015 Conference Record 3-2 (2nd in CAA)
2015 Scoring Offense 8.67 Goals Per Game (53rd in DI)
2015 Scoring Defense 9.80 Goals Against Per Game (25th in DI)
2015 Goals Leader #13 Ryan Belka – Senior (32 Gs)
2015 Assists Leader #13 Ryan Belka – Senior (20 As)
2015 Points Leader #13 Ryan Belka – Senior (52 Pts)
2015 Goaltending Leader #47 Jimmy Joe Granito – Sophomore (.533 SV %)
2015 Face-Off Leader #16 Nick Saputo – Senior (.541 FO %)
2015 Ground Balls Leader #16 Nick Saputo – Senior (112 GBs)
2015 Caused Turnovers Leader #35 Miles Thomas – Junior (22 CTs)
2015 Quality Wins St. Joe’s (11-7), Towson (11-10)
2015 Bad Losses Maryland (12-3), St. John’s (10-9)


A NCAA Quarterfinal team a year ago, the Dragons could not repeat their record-setting performance in 2015. There was a big dip in offensive production due to the loss of Ben McIntosh, falling from near the top of the nation to near the bottom. Ryan Belka took the helm of the offense, putting up similar numbers to what he had last season for Drexel. The defense lost Matt Dusek and Tyler Houchins at close, and the Dragons made a switch in cage from Will Gabrielsen to Loyola transfer Jimmy Joe Granito, who helped the Dragons rebound from a sluggish 0-4 start.

Drexel began the season on the road against Virginia in a tale of two halves. The 1st half was a sunny start, with the Dragons only down two goals. The 2nd half was the complete opposite of the first, with snow coming down onto the field, a change to orange balls, and an eventual Virginia victory. Another snowy game happened the week after in Philly, where the Dragons would fall to Albany, followed my two more losses against Villanova and a 12-3 loss to Maryland. A change was much needed, so Brian Voelker put in Granito for their next game against city rival St. Joe’s. That switch paid off as the Dragons won their next two games against the Hawks and the Bryant Bulldogs, teams who would make the NEC Championship in May. Drexel took on St. John’s next, but after leading 7-4 at the half, the Red Storm had a 6-2 run in the 2nd half to defeat the Dragons by a goal. Drexel would rebound with wins against Michigan and Binghamton, before entering CAA play. They began league play with a 7-4 loss to eventual top seed Fairfield before meeting Hofstra in a rematch of last year’s triple overtime CAA Championship. The Pride tied the game up with 36 seconds left before Ryan Belka sealed the game with his winner with 14 seconds left in the game to give the Dragons an 8-7 win. It’d be another thriller the following game against Delaware, where the Blue Hens used a 4-1 4th quarter, including the game-tying goal with six seconds left in regulation, to send the game into overtime, where Cole Shafer scored with 2:03 remaining to give Drexel another CAA win. After a loss to UMass, Drexel took on Towson in what would be a preview of the CAA Semifinal five days later. Although the Dragons took the 11-10 victory in the regular season finale, the Tigers got revenge and pulled away from Drexel in the 4th, winning 11-8.

Drexel has a pretty good defense and will only lose Paul Harrison at close next season. Caused turnover leader Miles Thomas returns for his senior year, which will help the Dragons. But two questions remain with the departures of Belka and face-off specialist Nick Saputo. Cole Shafer and Robert Frazee will be juniors, whiles Jules Raucci will return for his senior season. As for face-offs, Nabil Akl is a redshirt-sophomore and won four-of-eight draws last season.


Matthew Soran Attack Regis Jesuit (CO)
Cameron Harris Midfield Fairfield Prep (CT)
Nolan Fox Midfield Ridley (PA)
Nick Fox Midfield Ridley (PA)
Matt Petrick Defense Kennett (PA)
Matt Klinges Defense/LSM Malvern Prep (PA)
Sean Valentino Attack/Midfield Hempfield (PA)
Cole West Midfield/Attack Hun School (NJ)
William Stabbert Defense Granite Bay (CA)
Will Manganiello Attack Penncrest (PA)/CCBC Essex (MD)
John Roulston Goalie Conestoga (PA)

The Dragons will bring in 11 new recruits to replace six departing seniors. If Granito starts to falter sometime next season, Drexel can go back to Gabrielsen, or they can put in John Roulston of Conestoga. Roulston was the backstop for a Stoga team that was in a transition period after dominating from 2009-2013. The Fox brothers from Ridley bring in some chemistry already, and Matt Klinges of Malvern Prep knows how to win as well. But maybe the biggest recruit is Will Manganiello, a transfer from CCBC Essex. The former Penncrest star and NJCAA All-American has a hard shot and is a tough attackman to stop, and might see some playing time early in the season. He was going to commit to Delaware before ending up at Essex and then finding his way staying near home in Philadelphia.