2022 NCAA Lacrosse Preview: No. 17 Drexel (Men)

PHOTO BY KEVIN P. TUCKER

Aidan Coll led the Dragons with 33 goals in 2021.


The 2022 college lacrosse season is nearly upon us. As is our annual tradition, we’re featuring every team ranked in the Nike/USA Lacrosse Preseason Top 20.

Check back to USALaxMagazine.com each weekday this month for new previews, scouting reports and rival analysis.

NO. 17 DREXEL

2021 Record: 10-3 (6-2 CAA)
Final Ranking (2021): No. 10
Coach: Brian Voelker (13th year)

Last spring, Drexel surprised college lacrosse fans and pundits alike. Earlier this week, Brian Voelker struck a similar tone while discussing his team, but for a different reason.

“I’ve literally gone back and had to click on some of our guys’ bios on our roster to figure out what year they really are and how many years of eligibility they do or don’t have,” he admitted.

Excuse the confusion. Such is the reality of coaching during the pandemic, made all the more dizzying by the extra year of eligibility for those on collegiate rosters back in 2020. The added year offers an obvious upside, especially at Drexel with its five-year co-op program for most majors. After clinching the second CAA title in Voelker’s 12 years leading Drexel — the program’s first conference crown since 2014 — the Dragons return veteran presences at nearly every position. The roster features a handful of fifth-year players, including captains Brennan Greenwald and Sean Quinn on the defensive end. Aidan Coll, also a captain, begins his sixth spring in University City.

“We’re not the glamorous destination in the transfer portal, and I think in a lot of ways it’s good because we have our guys here that have worked hard and want to be here and put in the time,” Voelker said.

Coll’s emergence last spring mirrors that trajectory. After scoring a combined 13 goals in the previous three seasons, he led the Dragons with 33 tallies in 2021. Coll produced six hat tricks, including in the CAA title game against Hofstra in which Drexel prevailed 15-11. Despite the loss off Reid Bowering, who graduated tied for the program’s all-time goals record, the team returns 82.5 percent of its scoring on an offense that ranked 12th in the country with 13.6 goals per game. The unit is short marquee names but long on solid production from multiple contributors. That’s been a consistent theme in Philadelphia.

NIKE/USAL PRESEASON TOP 20
TEAM PREVIEWS

1. Virginia

2. Maryland

3. Duke

4. Georgetown

5. Notre Dame

6. North Carolina

7. Loyola

8. Yale

9. Penn

10. Rutgers

11. Lehigh

12. Denver

13. Army

14. Syracuse

15. Johns Hopkins

16. Delaware

17. Drexel

18. Cornell

19. Vermont

20. Bryant

“I think Steve [Boyle] does a really good job of putting guys in positions where they can be successful,” Voelker said. “When you add that on top of some of the talent that we have, that’s a good combination. We’re not getting many of those quote-unquote Top 100 recruits, but we’ve done a good job developing guys and finding guys that were a little off people’s radar.”

Drexel became impossible to ignore last spring. After a 1-2 start, the Dragons reeled off a nine-game winning streak on their way to the CAA title, then came within 90 seconds of toppling No. 4 Notre Dame in the first round of the NCAA tournament. Talk with those close to the program, and last year’s success doesn’t sound like a surprise. Yes, the Dragons went 3-3 in their COVID-shortened 2020 campaign. Those three losses against High Point, Albany and St. Joseph’s, however, came by a combined three goals. The slow start last spring was also understandable after a COVID-19 outbreak in early February afforded the team only two weeks of practice before its first game.

The Dragons likely won’t sneak up on anyone this season. Still, one of the team’s talking points this fall was to start faster. After surrendering 13 or more goals in three of its first five games, Drexel allowed 11 or fewer goals in each of the final eight. The increasing confidence in the unit, under assistant coach Tucker Durkin, was most apparent during the NCAA tournament when they took a more defensive approach against Notre Dame. Quinn, who earned first team All-CAA honors, plus Greenwald, Jack Farrell, Patrick Udovich and senior goalie Ross Blumenthal make up a dependable core.

“I don’t see any reason why we can’t lean on the defense as much or more than on the offense, which we’ve kind of done the last couple of years,” Voelker said.






z

TOP RETURNERS

Sean Donnelly, A, Redshirt-So.

The IMG academy product and transfer from Syracuse played beyond his years in his first season with the Dragons, leading the team with 46 points on 26 goals and 20 assists. He earned second team All-CAA honors in the process. “With the role we gave him and how he plays, I forget that he was just a freshman,” Voelker said. “Even this fall, I’m like, ‘OK, he’s just a sophomore.’…We’re going to count on him to be our ‘X’ guy and help run our offense. I think he can handle it, that’s for sure.”

Ryan Genord, M/A, Sr.

One of three players on Drexel’s roster listed as both a midfielder and attackman, Genord possesses a prized versatility. Voelker said he’d excel at whichever possession he ends up playing this spring. An honorable mention USA Lacrosse Magazine All-American in 2021 and a first team All-CAA selection, Genord, along with Donnelly, Coll, and Jack Mulcahy (19 goals, 11 assists), all tallied more than 30 points last season. They’re all back. The foursome will be relied upon even more this spring after Luke Tomak tore his ACL in the fall.

Ross Blumenthal, G, Sr.

The keeper out of the Friends School in Baltimore played his best lacrosse when it mattered most last season, registering a .561 save percentage over the final seven games. After being named to the CAA All-Tournament team, Blumenthal made a season-high 15 saves against Notre Dame, many of the spectacular variety, as the Dragons hung with the Fighting Irish until the final minute.

BREAKOUT CANDIDATES

George Grippo, M., Sr. and Brent McVicker, M., So.

It’s difficult to only choose one between the Dragons’ standout SSDMs that thrive at the game’s least glamorous position. “They’re maybe two of the best in our league,” Voelker said. “They have kind of everything … the experience to play a little bit on the offensive end, can get ground balls and help you clear, but also understand the defense.”

Exhibit A. These takeaways checks by Grippo that flipped the field during Drexel’s 12-9 win over Delaware last April.

ENEMY LINES

What rival coaches say about the Dragons:

“Voelker and Boyle got it rolling last year, just missing by a whiff of making the quarterfinals … Canadians float around the crease, scoring anything they can get their sticks on … Faceoff will be a question mark after having the same man [Jimmeh Koita] for four years … Naturally built for fifth-year guys due to required extra year with co-op program.”

BEYOND THE BASICS
POWERED BY LACROSSE REFERENCE

3.59

On an opponent-adjusted basis, the Dragons ranked 1st on offense in the CAA (33.1 percent adjusted efficiency). But they also lose Reid Bowering and Collin Mailman from last year’s squad. There will be a gap to fill. Enter Zach Augustine, whose 3.59 usage-adjusted EGA mark put him in the top percentile last year among the most efficient players in Division I men’s lacrosse.— Zack Capozzi

Lacrosse Reference Glossary

Most Recent

Early 2023 Rankings: Nos. 20-16 (Division I Women)

We take a crack at breaking down the 2023 Division I women's season ahead of the fall.

Lacrosse Prepares J.P. Morgan Staffers for the Daily Grind

Traders and sales people on the J.P. Morgan trading floor meet to play lacrosse.

Early 2023 Rankings: Nos. 20-16 (Division I Men)

We take a crack at breaking down the 2023 Division I men's season ahead of the fall.

Early 2023 Rankings: Nos. 25-21 (Division I Women)

We take a crack at breaking down the 2023 Division I women's season ahead of the fall.







Twitter Posts