Drexel got the start it wanted, jumping out to an early 2-0 lead against Towson just 1:24 into the game. The remaining 58:36 of the game, though, was a mix of missed opportunities, motivated teams systematically creating their own volition, and THUNDEROME!-necessary nonsense that only the THUNDERDOME! Tournament can provide. The end result was an 11-10 overtime win for the Dragons, keeping Drexel's hopes alive for NCAA Tournament participation.
The game-winner came from Ryan Belka 27 seconds into the overtime period. After securing the opening faceoff of the extra period, Drexel took a timeout to settle play and set up a look. Belka swept from right to left, unloading an underhanded attempt that found twine behind Tyler White. The bucket was one of two goals for Belka on the day and was one of four shots that the junior midfielder took. Drexel, however, almost didn't get to the point where Belka could propel the Dragons to the league's championship.
The first 30 minutes of play featured Drexel either missing out on opportunities to generate goals or pitching away possessions against the Tigers: Blanked on five extra-man opportunities and committing eight turnovers to Towson's three, Drexel trailed the Tigers at halftime after Towson pragmatically built a 6-5 lead despite losing 10 of 11 faceoffs. The Dragons' spurt in the game's first 90 seconds only temporarily held the Tigers back, as the combination of Drexel's giveaways and its failure to take advantage of preferential scoring postures eventually yielded to Towson's hbard-boiled play and execution. The Tigers appeared more composed than the Dragons, and the third period exhibited that difference.
Drexel was first to score out of the break, knotting the scoreboard at six just 2:17 into the period on a Cole Shafer tally with a helper from Belka. From that point on, though, it was all Towson: A three-goal run from the Tigers over the quarter's final 6:52 -- scores came from Mike Lowe, Ben McCarty, and Greg Cuccinello -- gave the Tigers a 9-6 lead. The Tigers pushed when it could have relented to the Dragons, holding one of the nation's better offenses quiet while getting timely -- and concentrated -- scoring from a unit that has lacked efficiency throughout the year. While limited -- both externally and internally -- over the game's first 45 minutes, Drexel was far from through, though.
The fourth period was a display of perfect THUNDERDOME! brawling: A Ben McIntosh goal with 9:17 remaining in regulation pulled the Dragons within two and snapped an 18-minute scoring drought for Drexel; an unassisted goal from McIntosh with 3:35 left on the clock drew the Dragons within one; a bucket from Shafer on the possession immediately following McIntosh's goal locked the scoreboard at nine with 2:47 remaining in regulation; and then a McIntosh goal 33 seconds later gave Drexel its first lead since Towson tied the game at four with 7:36 remaining in the second quarter. This is what THUNDERDOME! does: It makes blood leak out of your ears.
Towson won the faceoff following McIntosh's tally and tied the game at 10. Tom DeNapoli drew two defenders and dumped the ball to Devin Grimaldi for the score with 1:20 left in regulation. The team's then traded fruitless possession -- all with an all-too-appropriate fire siren blared in the background -- to force overtime. And then Belka happened.
It was a perfect death match in THUNDERDOME!
TRUNCATED ADVANCED BOX SCORE
|Raw Offensive Efficiency||40.00||30.56|
|Raw Offensive Shooting Rate||33.33%||25.58%|
|Shots per Offensive Opportunity||1.20||1.19|
|Turnovers per 100 Offensive Opportunities||44.00||38.89|
|Run-of-Play Groundballs per 100 Possessions||22.95||32.79|
|Saves per 100 Defensive Opportunities||38.89||28.00|
|Team Save Percentage||56.00%||41.18%|