March 21, 2011

MCLA's Leading Scorer Has Central Florida Eying Postseason

by Jac Coyne | LaxMagazine.com | Twitter


Ever since he arrived at Central Florida, David Drehoff has been the target of every type of defense in the book. This spring, the senior is not only getting his points -- he leads the MCLA in points per game and goals -- but his team is also on the cusp of making the SELC tournament for the first time.

© Larry James

David Drehoff can tell what's about to happen. He understands what the defender, whether it is a pole or a shorty, is trying to do as he stares at Drehoff wide-eyed. The intentions register on the player's face; it's part anticipation and part anxiety. And maybe just a dose of fear.

Drehoff, the best player on Central Florida and the leading scorer in the MCLA, is about to be face-guarded for the entire game.

While he loathes being face-guarded, Drehoff is used to it by now. From the time he started drawing interest from the 14 or so scholarship programs while playing at Winter Springs (Fla.) High School, located on the north side of Orlando, Drehoff has been the focus of every junk defense created. There are all sorts of remedies for the face-guard: rubs and picks, or making sure that he has the ball on all restarts.

Drehoff saves his favorite cure for those really pesky face-guarders.

"If the kid's legitimately following me everywhere I go, I'll act like I'm running toward the box and he'll follow me," said Drehoff. "Then I'll sprint over the midfield line real quick and one of our d-poles on the other side of the field will sprint down unguarded and be open for a feed."

"That will just confound the defense," said John Drehoff, UCF's head coach and David's father. "Nobody will pick him up, and I'll have a d-pole go all the way in and score."

It is an old trick that the Drehoffs devised during their Winter Springs days, where the elder Drehoff also coached his son. The maneuver most often sprung Tanner Gard, currently a close defender for NCAA Division I Jacksonville. The Drehoffs say the play accounted for many of the 13 goals and 12 assists Gard produced as pole his senior season.

Opponents can't be blamed for doing whatever it takes to slow down Drehoff. The senior is currently leading both divisions of the MCLA in points per game (8.63), goals (43) and total points (69) for the 7-1 Knights.

What gives opponents the most trouble is the variety in Drehoff's game. He doesn't fit conveniently into any of the lacrosse labels, other than perhaps "do-it-all attackman."

"I'll take whatever opportunity is presented to me," Drehoff said. "If I'm dodging toward the goal and I have the better shot, I'll take it. But if somebody's open on the crease or somebody is wide open, I have no problem dishing it off as long as the ball ends up in the goal."

John Drehoff, who played at Navy, sees the key to his son's success in his love of the game. David doesn't just play for the numbers. His father did a statistical analysis of Drehoff's goals that showed most of them have come in the first half of a game. The second half is either dedicated to setting up his teammates or sitting on the bench because of the score.

"If I had to use one word, it would be 'selfless,'" John Drehoff said, describing David. "He enjoys the game so much, that it doesn't matter to him if he's not scoring. He's happy to feed the other players. He's just happy to be playing the game. That's not a sudden change; that's the way he has been all through his high school career and now in his college career."

It was a big reason that Drehoff did not choose to pursue lacrosse at the NCAA level. Drehoff was dead set on concentrating on engineering in college, and only one school looking at him for lacrosse offered that opportunity, but the cost was too high.

"When it came down to it, it was a little too much money going out of state, and UCF is a real nice campus," Drehoff said. "I kind of just wanted to enjoy myself while I was getting my mechanical engineering degree and just play the sport for fun."

Even more fun this year, as the Knights are winning. For the first time since Drehoff arrived on campus, UCF has a chance to make the SELC tournament. Because the Knights are stuck in the same division as Florida and Florida State, they are typically left on the outside.

This season, with the Gators struggling and UCF rolling, the possibility of a postseason is very real.

"That's something we're definitely pushing for this year, no question," the younger Drehoff said. "It's been in our heads from the beginning that's it's not even a question we're going to the [SELC] tournament this year. We've been coming together real well throughout the season and progressing, so I think everyone is ready to be down in Miami and move onto the next level."

The critical game takes place Saturday afternoon, when Florida travels to UCF. You can bet a part of the Gators' plan will be to take Drehoff out of the picture any way they can, even if it means a little face-guarding.

That's okay with Drehoff. His d-poles are ready to score.


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