From press releases; Photos and additional reporting: cville-lax.com

Photo copyright (c) 2007 Tom McCrystal

Virginia’s Adam Fassnacht (2) attempts to chase down Drexel defenseman Brian McWilliams (11) after McWilliams wins a ground ball opportunity, Sunday, February 18, 2007. (Click for a larger version: 99K.)

Perhaps it was that proverbial “cold day” — as temperatures at UVa’s Turf Field dropped below freezing, a scrappy Drexel University squad took down top-ranked Virginia 11-10 in the Cavalier’s season opener Sunday.

Despite trailing virtually the entire game, Drexel’s redshirt freshman Colin Ambler (13) delivered on a feed from Andrew Chapman (29) to even the score at 10 goals each. Just seven seconds later, Ambler stung Virginia goalie Kip Turner (15) again for the game-winning goal. The defending National Champions Cavaliers had won 17 straight games and 19 in a row at home. The loss is also UVa’s first in the season opener in seven years. It was the first time in school history that a Drexel Dragons squad had defeated the top-ranked team in the nation in any sport.

After mounting relentless comeback bid — Drexel outscored Virginia 8-4 in the second half — Virginia still seemed poised for the victory after Ben Rubeor (6) scored a man-up goal in the fourth quarter to give the Cavaliers a 9-7 lead. The Dragons rebounded as they took the ensuing face-off and scored a man-down goal as sophomore middie Kevin Dart (6) beat Turner. Freshman Greg Casey (5) tied the score at 9-9 at 10:32 of the fourth quarter with his second goal of the game.

Photo copyright (c) 2007 Tom McCrystal

Sometimes all you can do is watch. Drexel goalie Bruce Bickford (21) was simply beaten by a shot on goal from Virginia’s Brian Carroll. Sunday, February 18, 2007. (Click for a larger version: 145K.)

Virginia‚??s Danny Glading (9) put the Cavaliers back on top, 10-9, with 6:43 remaining. Virginia controlled the ball as the clock ticked away until a groundball by defenseman Adam Crystal (27) on a rebound gave the Dragons possession as Drexel took a timeout with just 16 seconds remaining. Chapman found Ambler on the left side with a pass that Ambler deposited in the net to knot the score at 10-10 with just 10 seconds remaining. The game appeared to be heading to overtime when freshman Zak Fisher (30) won the face-off and fed Ambler for the game-winning goal.

Virginia led 6-3 at halftime as the Cavaliers doubled Drexel‚??s scoring in each of the first two periods. The Dragons responded with eight goals on 14 second-half shots to oust the top-ranked Cavaliers. For the game, Virginia held a 46-24 advantage in shots though the Dragons won 13-of-22 face-offs, including four of the final five.

Rubeor led Virginia with four goals and four assists while Chapman paced Drexel with three goals and one assist. The Dragons took just 24 shots, while Virginia managed 46. They also won 13 of 22 faceoffs, including four of five in the fourth quarter. Drexel goalie Bruce Bickford , who made 22 saves against UVa last year, finished with 17 saves, while Turner stopped six Drexel shots.

The Cavaliers travel to Long Island next Saturday for a match-up against Stony Brook. Drexel stays on the road with a contest at Lehigh.

Photo copyright (c) 2007 Tom McCrystal

Dragon midfielder Brian Neary (1) races unsucessfully to prevent a shot by Cavalier sophomore Danny Glading (9). The shot was good. Sunday, February 18, 2007. (Click for a larger version: 95K.)

Photo copyright (c) 2007 Tom McCrystal

Drexel’s Kevin Dart (6) makes a move on Virginia’s goal. Sunday, February 18, 2007. (Click for a larger version: 112K.)

Photo copyright (c) 2007 Tom McCrystal

Virginia’s Matt Kelly (33) marks Drexel freshman midfielder Dennis Murray (20). Sunday, February 18, 2007. (Click for a larger version: 96K.)