Drexel scored three goals in a matter of 11 seconds just before halftime to seize momentum in a 16-11 NCAA Tournament win over University City rival Penn. The Dragons, winners of nine straight, led by as much as seven goals en route to a victory in their first appearance in the national tournament.
Junior Nick Saputo led the scoring spurt when he won back-to-back face-offs and converted them into goals in the waning seconds of the half to give the Dragons a 7-6 lead going into the break. The face-off specialist, led the team with three goals in the contest -despite entering the game with just three goals all season. He also won 21 of 30 face-offs to give the Dragons a sizeable advantage in possession.
Saputo’s goals started a 7-0 scoring run for Drexel that spanned the second and third quarters and essentially put the game out of reach for the Quakers on their home field. The Dragons scored the first four goals of the third period to take a commanding lead.
Ben McIntosh, the Dragons' top goal-scorer and a nominee for national player of the year, sealed the victory by putting in all three of his goals in the fourth quarter.
As good as the Dragons finished the game, their play in the opening quarter saw them fall behind early and trail for nearly the entire half. Drexel turned the ball over nine times in the first two quarters, which resulted in quality scoring opportunities for Penn. Sophomore goalie Will Gabrielsen did his best to keep the game close despite the miscues. He made seven saves in the first half and ended the game with 12, including several from close range.
The win was Head Coach Brian Voelker’s first against his former team, and improved the Dragons’ overall record to 13-4 on the season. Drexel moves on to Face Denver in the quarterfinals of the NCAA Tournament on Sunday at 2:30 p.m. The game will be played at the University of Delaware and will be televised on ESPNU.