(Photo Courtesy of Drexel Athletics)
When Brian Voelker, a 2015 National Lacrosse Hall of Fame inductee, took over reigns as the head coach of the Dragons prior to the 2010 season, they were coming off of a 7-8 2009 season, where the Dragos reached the CAA tournament semifinals. That trip to the CAA semis marked their third consecutive trip to the CAA tournament and fourth trip overall since 2001, which was the first season of CAA lacrosse.
Since Voelker acquired the keys to the ship, the Drexel Dragons have arisen to new heights. The 2014 season, to many, marks the highest peak of the program. The Dragons won the CAA for the first time, upset No. 4 seed Penn in the first round of the NCAA tournament, and were knocked out by No. 3 seed Denver in the NCAA quarterfinals.
Additionally, the Dragons have made a trip to the CAA tournament eight of the 11 seasons that Voelker has been at the helm. They have been to the CAA championship game three times, which includes that historic 2014 season.
A huge part of the success that the Dragons have seen under Voelker can be partially attributed to the Canadian pipeline that has been established. And especially their pipeline to British Columbia. And while the Dragons had two Canadians on that 2009 team prior to Voelker taking over the reigns in Garret McIntosh and Kyle Bergman, by fourth season (2013) of the Voelker era the Dragons boasted a roster that featured seven Canadians – five of which were from British Columbia.
The Dragons’ 2013 season was the first year where you could see a huge impact as it pertains to Canadians leading the way for Drexel. During that season, players from north of the border accounted for 122 of the Dragons 300 points, which is roughly 40% of their entire offense. Robert Church (33G/24A) and Ben McIntosh (38G/18A), did most of the heavy lifting. But 2013 was just the tip of the iceberg. In 2014, 41.2% of their scoring come from Canadians. Ben McIntosh led the charge with 65 points (48G/17A) and Cole Schafer (35G/18A) also contributed heavily.
And since Voelker took over as head coach ahead of the 2010 season, a Canadian has either led or been in the top three in scoring for Drexel every single year. And 2021 doesn’t look like it will be any different in that regard. The Dragons’ roster this spring will feature three Canadians in attackman Reid Bowering, midfielder Lucas Snider, and incoming freshman Carter Begley.
Bowering, who will be returning for his fifth season in 2021, has been one of the Dragons’ most prolific goal scorers since he stepped foot on campus. He netted 20 goals last season and was on track to surpass his record 47 goals during the 2019 season. The attackman also added three assist in the Dragons’ six games in 2020, ranking second on the team in points with 23.
Getting Bowering back for a fifth season is huge for Drexel and could very well help them make another post season run, which they certainly could’ve done in 202 if the season wouldn’t have been cancelled due to the Coronavirus outbreak. This season, Snider could take another step forward and Begley could also have an impact as a freshman.
Outside of Bowering, the Dragons’ will also return attackman Matthew Varian (7G/19A) and midfielder Collin Mailman (12G/2A) for a fifth year. Those three leaders on the offensive end give Drexel a pretty significant edge on that offensive end of the field. And we could see some pretty ridiculous numbers out of the Dragons’ offensive this coming season.
The Dragons’ offense should have plenty of opportunities to show off their stuff as well, with fifth year senior Jimmeh Koita at the faceoff dot. As Drexel’s primary faceoff man since his freshman season, Koita went 82-for-178 (46%). He ranks second all-time in faceoff wins and ground balls in program history.
On the back end, the Dragons will also return a heap of experience and talent. They will be returning three of their primary poles from last season in junior Sean Quinn (18GB/13CT) and sophomores Brennan Greenwald (14GB/3CT) and Patrick Udovich (9GB/1CT). All three contributed heavily to the Dragons’ defense which allowed 12.5 goals per game last season and looked to be on track to matching or surpassing their numbers from the previous season.
The Dragons will also have Ross Blumenthal, who has been the Dragons’ starting goalie for their past 17 contests, back in cage this coming season. The sophomore made 66 saves and posted a .471 save percentage in six games last season, which included a career-high 16 save performance against High Point.
With as much continuity and experience the Dragons will have on both ends of the field this coming spring, they have all the potentially put together something special in 2021. And who knows, they might be able to churn out one of their best seasons in program history. But with how tight the CAA is expected to be, it won’t be easy at all.