May 3, 2014

Shafer OT Rocket Sends Drexel to First NCAA Berth

from press release

HEMPSTEAD, N.Y.  – Cole Shafer scored his fifth goal of the game in the third overtime as Drexel came from behind to defeat Hofstra, 11-10, to win its first Colonial Athletic Association championship. The Dragons trailed by three with five minutes to play but rallied for the win and in the process, earned an automatic berth in the NCAA Tournament. It was Drexel's (12-4) eighth-straight victory.

Jules Raucci had possession behind the cage on the left side after each team committed a turnover in the first minute of the third extra frame. He fed Shafer, who rocketed the game-winner from 12 yards out on the left side from down low to high off the pipe past Chris Selva 1:33 into the final session.

The Dragons' chances for their first title seemed remote after the Pride went up 10-7 on a Mike Malave goal with five minutes remaining in regulation. However, Drexel's comeback started right away as Nick Saputo won the face-off and :27 seconds later, Ben McIntosh found Shafer to cut the margin to two. A little more than a minute later, senior Nick Trizano came from behind the net and scored an unassisted goal, giving life to the Drexel bench. The Dragons stunned the fans at James M. Shuart Stadium by tying the game with 2:45 to play on a Ryan Belka score which made it 10 apiece.

Both teams thought they had the game won in overtime, only to have to keep on playing after being denied. The Pride appeared to score the game-winner in the first overtime period, but an illegal pick negated the goal. In the second overtime, Shafer fired a shot that hit the netting on the side, The Drexel bench erupted thinking the game was over, only to have the Pride pick up the loose ball and continue playing.

McIntosh was named the CAA Tournament Most Outstanding Player. He scored a goal and had four assists on the night after scoring four times in the semifinals against Towson. Belka, Shafer and Trizano were each named to the All-Tournament team for the Dragons. Belka had two goals and an assist, while Trizano scored three times, giving him 36 goals on the season.

The game was scoreless for almost nine minutes at the outset. Drexel controlled possession for the most part early, but the Pride defense didn't allow the Dragons a good scoring chance. Hofstra scored first at the 6:05 mark when Malave fed Torin Varn, who fired a shot from about 17 yards past Will Gabrielsen. The Dragons answered with two goals is a span of just 54 seconds.  McIntosh got the ball in the slot and set up Shafer to get Drexel on the scoreboard. Less than a minute later, Shafer saved a loose ball that was heading out of bounds at midfield and scooped it to Trizano. The senior then raced down the left side and bounced a shot past the Hofstra keeper to give the Dragons the lead. Hofstra was able to tie it with 1:05 to play on a Lance Yapor goal.

Drexel used the McIntosh to Shafer combination once again in the second quarter, and the freshman scored on the doorstep to put the Dragons up by a goal at the 10:26 mark. The lead didn't last long as Drew Coholan scored on a bounce shot in the slot with 7:50 left in the half to tie it at 3-3. The Dragons were able to get the lead back when Trizano cut across the middle on the man-up and McIntosh hit him in stride. His shot went into the right side of the net for his 35th goal of the season, putting the Dragons up 4-3 with under three minutes to play in the first half. The teams went to the break with Drexel holding a one-goal lead.
The Dragons stared the third period with a highlight-reel goal. Shafer picked up loose ball after what looked like a Drexel turnover right in front of the cage. In one move the rookie, who had his back to the goal, went over his shoulder high to give Drexel a two-goal lead. However, the Pride answered with five straight scores to take an 8-5 lead. Malave started the run and Sam Llinares added another less than a minute later. After that it was all Varn as the senior scored three straight times.

Drexel finally ended its scoring drought early in the fourth with a pair of goals. Ryan Belka scored an unassisted goal to narrow the Pride lead to two. Belka then set up McIntosh at the crease to make it 8-7. It was the 43rd goal of the year for McIntosh, the fourth-highest single-season total in school history. However, Hofstra's Yapor scored on a wrap-around goal and then after winning the face-off, Malave gave the Pride some insurance with his second of the game at the 5:01 mark, putting Hofstra what appeared to be safely ahead at 10-7.

The Dragons will now gather to watch the NCAA selection show on Sunday night to find out where they will play their first ever NCAA Tournament game.


comments powered by Disqus