BALTIMORE - Freshman Xander Saling scored his first career goal and finished with a hat trick to lead the Loyola University Maryland men's soccer team to a 3-2 win over Drexel Tuesday night at Ridley Athletic Complex.
Saling netted his first career goal at the 2:01 mark of the contest when he popped a long ball from freshman Wielfried Zouantcha over the head of Drexel goalkeeper Tyler Afflerbach from 20 yards out.
The Maplewood, New Jersey, native scored again in the ninth minute when he put away the rebound of junior Laurin Vogel's blocked shot.
His final goal came with 15 seconds remaining in regulation when he sent the rebound of sophomore Brad Warenicz's shot back through the legs of Afflerbach.
Following Saling's first two scores, the Dragons were able to cut Loyola's lead to one, 2-1, in the 21st minute when Xavier Hernandez played a through ball to Erik Alexandersson at the top corner of the box. Alexandersson dribbled once before sneaking a low shot past Loyola goalkeeper Matt Sanchez.
Loyola had a chance to extend its lead back to two with a little over 10 minutes remaining in the half, but the Greyhounds were unable to capitalize on either opportunity. In the 32nd minute, Warenicz played a low cross into the box, but Afflerbach stopped freshman Griffin Kutzner's shot from going into the top left corner of the goal.
Warenicz then sent a cross from freshman Jake Campbell just wide of the goal in the 34th minute.
Loyola opened the second half with the first look at goal, but the Greyhounds were unable to strike again before the Dragons found their equalizer. In the 51st minute, Aaron Thompson sent a cross to Tristan Thompson, which he finished from inside the small box.
After that, Loyola held Drexel to just one more shot, which junior Jake Heroux headed off the back line in the 85th minute, while the Greyhounds peppered Afflerbach with eight shots, including five in the final six minutes of regulation.
In the 85th minute, junior Antony Sare sent junior Alex Ponvert's cross from the left side off of the right post. Goldsmith then had a shot saved by Afflerbach in the 86th minute and Saling's shot in the 87th minute was blocked.
In the final minute of play, freshman Matt Bautista sent a desperation through ball to Warenicz out on the left wing. Warenicz dribbled into the box, shook a defender and sent a shot at Afflerbach, which was saved. Saling gathered the rebound though and sent it back through Afflerbach's legs for his first career game-winning goal.
Loyola outshot Drexel, 18-4, throughout the contest and held a 4-1 advantage in corner kicks. Afflerbach stopped five shots for the Dragons.
The contest marks the second time Loyola and Drexel have met in men's soccer, with the Greyhounds owning both victories. It was also Loyola's final non-conference contest of the season.
The Greyhounds will return to Ridley Athletic Complex on Saturday when they host Army West Point at 7 p.m.