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UPENN #18 Craig Andrzejewski Credit: Matt Cianfrani

Inexperience and a season opener proved to be an unstable combination for the Quakers - one that blew up at just the wrong time.

Up by three with 10 minutes to go, the men's lacrosse team looked primed for an upset win over No. 18 Drexel.

But a bevy of mistakes let the Dragons score the game's final four goals to pull off a 9-8 comeback victory.

The Quakers were fairly young last season, but 2008 is a different story. Penn coach Brian Voelker started a freshman, five sophomores, three juniors and just one senior on Saturday.

"We're definitely young, and that's a good thing," junior attacker Craig Andrzejewski said. "[My teammates] are experienced guys who played at good high schools . and they stepped up well today."

For a while, the lineup worked wonders.

Freshmen Al Kohart and Corey Winkoff and sophomore Alex Weber started off the scoring for the Quakers, building a quick 3-1 lead that Penn kept for most of the game. The freshman pair accounted for half of Penn's goals, with two apiece.

But once the clock hit the 10-minute mark, the other edge of the sword wounded the Quakers.

A patient offense turned into one that couldn't hold onto possession when needed.

"We controlled the ball until the last part of the game," Voelker said. "We had it a lot, just gave it away at the end there."

Giveaways also began to affect the defense. Sophomore defenseman Joe Kelly, who had otherwise played a good game, was pressured on the right side of his own zone with seven minutes left when he threw a pass right to a streaking Drexel forward for a goal.

In addition, the Red and Blue had committed one penalty all game until sophomore defensemen Brett Hughes and Kohart each gave the Dragons a man advantage with under seven minutes to go.

Drexel's Kevin Stockel used the first opportunity to tie the game, while the Dragon's defense used the second opportunity to maintain possession and run valuable seconds off the clock in the final minute.

"There was some stuff in the middle of the game that we really liked," Voelker said.

"But the bottom line is when you don't do what it takes against a good team to get a win, it's frustrating."

In his squad's first test against a solid team, Voelker likes what he sees, but knows there's a lot of room for improvement.

"We gave a good effort for three quarters - maybe three-and-a-half quarters - and then didn't do what it took to do the little things to win the game," Voelker said.

"Part of that is probably the youth that we have on our team, part of it is being our first game."

He's hoping that once the young players get a few games under their belts, his team will find a winning combination.

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