Drexel earned its way into NCAA men's lacrosse tourney

Posted: May 10, 2014

No lower-seeded team in the 2014 NCAA men's lacrosse tournament will travel a shorter distance to its first-round game than Drexel (12-4), which will face host Penn (11-3) Sunday at Franklin Field in the Dragons' first NCAA appearance.

But while Sunday's trip will be short - no more than four blocks - the trip into the tournament was anything but easy.

The Dragons earned the tourney berth last weekend with a pair of grueling victories en route to winning the Colonial Athletic Association tournament title, also a first, in Hempstead, N.Y.

In the final, an 11-10 victory over Hofstra, freshman Cole Shafer ended the game with a goal 43 seconds into the third overtime. Drexel had trailed by three with five minutes left in the game. Drexel also needed overtime to vanquish semifinal opponent Towson by the same score.

Senior midfielder Ben McIntosh, ninth in the nation with 43 goals, was named the 2014 CAA player of the year. A two-time first-team all-CAA selection, McIntosh, who was also named the tournament's most outstanding player, said that though the game with the Quakers is big, the Dragons prefer to look at the bigger picture.

"It is one and done," McIntosh said, "you win, you keep playing. We are playing for our lives right now because we want to keep playing and we want to play deep. If you look at it, yes, it's the most important game of the year. I've heard some people calling it 'the battle of 33d Street.' But we just want to get after them and win the game."

The game marks the first meeting between the teams since 2009. Penn, in the tournament for the first time since 2011, holds a 21-8 advantage in head-to-head meetings.

One common thread that cannot be overlooked is Drexel coach Brian Voelker. Hired by Drexel in July 2009, Voelker coached Penn for seven seasons before taking the Drexel job.

Voelker coached the Quakers to a pair of NCAA tournament appearances, in 2004 ending a drought in which the Quakers missed the tournament in the previous 15 seasons.

However, he insists his past is also not an issue.

"It's not me and [Penn coach] Mike Murphy arm wrestling," Voelker said. "It's two great teams that are going to play a great game, with the best team winning."

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