PHILADELPHIA -- Drexel scored seven-straight goals during a seven-minute span on the way to a 16-11 upset win over fourth-seeded Penn in the first round of the NCAA Men's Lacrosse Championship on Sunday afternoon.
A vociferous crowd of 2,582 made the atmosphere electric at Franklin Field. The two campuses touch each other in Center City Philadelphia and both had larger than usual student sections that made it resemble the rivalries of a Big 5 basketball game at the neighboring Palestra.
The Dragons' ability to win face-offs were the key on Sunday. Nick Saputo sparked the 7-0 run by winning 10 of 12 face-offs during the second and third quarters, including eight in a row at one point. Saputo entered Sunday with just three goals on the season. He scored three times on Sunday, including two off back-to-back face-off wins late in the first half that swung the momentum.
For the day, Saputo won 21-of-30 face-offs and had a game-high 12 ground balls. He and Ben McIntosh each had three goals to lead Drexel. McIntosh, the CAA Player of the Year, was held scoreless until the fourth quarter.
Nick Doktor finished with four points to lead Penn. He had three goals and an assist in the loss. The Quakers had a 47-45 advantage in shots for the game, but the 45 shots were the second-most allowed by Penn this season.
Drexel (13-4) now has a nine-game winning streak while Penn (11-4) saw its eight-game winning streak halted. The Dragons, in the NCAA Tournament for the first time, will face Denver in a quarterfinal match next weekend in Newark, Del.
"Our players played as hard as they could, but it wasn't just our sharpest day and that is a credit to Drexel," said Penn coach Mike Murphy.
The Quakers led throughout the first half until the final seconds when the Dragons scored three times in an 11-second span. Penn's lead was 6-4 after a man-down goal from longpole Alex Blonsky with 1:16 remaining in the half. But the Dragons' Jules Raucci scored to get Drexel back to within a goal with 17 seconds showing on the clock.
Saputo won successive face-offs, racing down the field and firing the ball into the net twice in 11 seconds and Drexel had a 7-6 lead. The Dragons nearly got one more before the horn sounded, but Penn's Brian Feeney knocked a desperation shot away whie in a crowd at the net as time expired.
The Dragons came out hot to start the third, however, scoring three more goals in the first five minutes of the quarter to extend the run to 6-0 and the lead to 10-6.
The Quakers led 4-3 after the first quarter, which also ended with a fury. Doktor scored with nine ticks left to give Penn a two-goal lead, only to see Saputo score off the ensuing face-off, just beating the horn.