Legendary men's lacrosse head coach Bob Shillinglaw announced in February that the 2017 season - his 39th at the helm of the Blue Hens and his 42nd as a collegiate head coach - would be his final one leading the University of Delaware men's lacrosse program as he retires following the end of the campaign. 

Coach Shillinglaw has enjoyed one of the greatest coaching careers in the history of NCAA men’s lacrosse. His Hall of Fame-worthy contributions have seen him compile 327 wins (entering the 2017 season), lead the Blue Hens to 16 conference championships and six NCAA Tournament appearances, and earn him to national coach of the year honors.

The second longest tenured head coach in the history of collegiate men’s lacrosse and in the annals of Delaware athletics, Shillinglaw built a strong legacy of championship teams, All-American players, and successful alumni over a highlight-filled career. He entered the 2017 season having coached 639 contests, an NCAA record and 129 more than the next nearest coach. His 327 victories ranks No. 10 on the all-time college coaching win list.

We asked Coach Shillinglaw to share eight great moments from his time here at the University of Delaware. Each Thursday, beginning March 16, we will highlight one of those great moments and explain why they are so special.

Join us throughout the season as we honor Coach Shillinglaw and recall his special memories from an outstanding career as one of the leaders in the game of college lacrosse.

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Blue Hens Make Their First-Ever NCAA Tournament Appearance • 1984

When it comes to fond memories of great seasons in Delaware’s rich lacrosse history, the 1984 campaign quickly comes to mind.

Just six seasons into his tenure as head coach, Bob Shillinglaw led the Blue Hens to their first-ever NCAA Tournament appearance. It would become the first of three national quarterfinal berths for UD under Shillinglaw.

Steve Shaw earned All-American honors as a sophomore in 1984 as one of the nation's top faceoff specialists

“We had great senior leadership from guys like Dean Stocksdale, Tom Flynn, Chris Guttilla, and John Moeser,” remembers Shillinglaw. “But the nucleus of the squad was really made up of some outstanding sophomores.”

Stocksdale and Flynn, an All-ECC defender, served as captains with Guttilla, another all-conference pick, and Moeser leading the middies. But it was a group of youngsters who made a name for themselves early in their careers.  

Three sophomores earned All-American honors: faceoff ace Steve Shaw, lock down defender Dan Harley, and high-scoring attackman Randy Powers, who also earned ECC Player of the Year honors.

All three would become three-time All-Americans with Shaw going on to set numerous NCAA faceoff records – some of them later broken by UD great Alex Smith  – and Powers earning a spot on the Team USA squad that won the 1984 World Championships.

In 1984, only eight teams qualified for the NCAA Tournament and the Hens earned that final seed, setting up a date with No. 1 seed Johns Hopkins in Baltimore. The Hens played the Blue Jays tough before falling 10-4. Hopkins went on to capture the national title, knocking off Syracuse in the finals at Delaware Stadium in the first year of the NCAA Final Four format.


Bob Shillinglaw Wins Coaching Debut at Delaware • March 21, 1979

As far as coaching debuts go, this one was pretty special.

Bob Shillinglaw, just 27 years old and ushering in a new era of Delaware men’s lacrosse, had the unenviable task of leading his young squad against the NCAA College Division powerhouse Maryland-Baltimore County (UMBC) Retrievers in his first game as the Blue Hens head coach.

It certainly became a thrilling start to what has become a special career for one of the nation’s most recognized head coaches. Facing a UMBC team that was ranked third nationally and coming off consecutive national semifinal appearances, Shillinglaw’s forces were up to the task.

The 1979 Delaware men's lacrosse team went 13-2 and won the East Coast Conference title in Bob Shillinglaw's first season at the helm

The Retrievers jumped out to a 9-6 halftime lead, but the Blue Hens never blinked and scored four goals in the third period and four more in the final stanza to post the thrilling 14-13 upset victory at Delaware Field.

Co-captain Bill Sturm, freshman All-American Moses Marone, and Mark Strohman each scored three goals for the Blue Hens, who overcame 10 penalties and a 62-36 shot deficit to post the victory. In goal, Jim Burns made 20 saves.

It was the beginning of a memorable season for the Blue Hens, who went on to post a 13-2 record and capture the East Coast Conference title – the first of an incredible 15 conference titles in Shillinglaw's tenure. Delaware closed out the season with another thriller, giving eventual NCAA national runner-up University of Maryland all it could handle before falling 21-15 in a game played before a capacity crowd that surrounded Delaware Field. The team won an incredible eight games by three goals or less during the season, earning the squad the moniker “The Cardiac Kids.”

So how impressive was Shillinglaw’s debut season? Following the season, he was selected by his fellow coaches as the United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association (USILA) National Coach of the Year. Not bad!