NEWARK, Del. – All fall and winter, the coaching staff of the University of Delaware talked about resilience and fighting through when circumstances get tough.

On Saturday, the Blue Hens showed that they were listening, going toe-to-toe against one of the nation’s top teams and battling them to the very end. However, Delaware came up just short in a 13-12 loss to #7 Villanova in front of a raucous crowd at Delaware Stadium.

“I’m really proud of the effort our guys put forth today. I’m really excited about some of the things we saw,” head coach Ben DeLuca said. “It’s a tough pill to swallow, but our young guys had some good moments and I thought our captains and leadership continue to take steps forward.”

Senior Dean DiSimone led a potent offensive attack for the Blue Hens with a career-high five goals on the day. Sophomore Bryce Reid posted his second straight hat trick with a career-high four goals, while senior Will Hirschmann continued his outstanding season with two goals and one assist, his fourth consecutive multi-goal performance.

Defensively, sophomore Matt DeLuca was tremendous in net, tying a season-high with 14 saves, including several that kept the Blue Hens within striking distance all day long. DeLuca has now posted double-digit saves in 10 of his 17 career games.

“It was definitely a learning experience today. I thought it was an electric environment throughout the day and I think Villanova is one of the top teams in the entire country. To play with them and to play well, I thought it was exciting to see our guys show the progress that we made,” Coach DeLuca added.

Hirschmann got the Blue Hens on the board first, taking an assist from Charlie Kitchen and finding the back of the net. Reid would add his first of the day and Hirschmann would score again as Delaware grabbed an early 3-1 lead.

Back and forth the teams went with Villanova tying things up, but Reid’s second goal of the game came just before the end of the first period to give the Blue Hens a 4-3 advantage.

Tewaaraton candidate and All-American Christian Cuccinello went to work for the Wildcats, scoring three time in the final five minutes of the second quarter, but goals from Reid and DiSimone would help the Blue Hens stay with the Wildcats with the teams heading to halftime tied at 6-6.

Delaware continued to pepper the back of the net with four goals in the third quarter, including two more from DiSimone, but once again Villanova would have an answer, scoring twice in the final minute of the period to tie the game at 10-10 with one quarter to play.

After Villanova took it’s the first lead of the day 14 seconds into the fourth period, Delaware would answer with back-to-back goals from DiSimone to grab a 12-11 lead.

Cuccinello would strike again, scoring two more times to reclaim the lead at 13-12 for the seventh-ranked Wildcats.

The Blue Hens would continually pressure Villanova’s defense, but was unable to come up with another goal in the tough loss.

Delaware returns to action on Tuesday when the Bears of Mercer University visit Delaware Stadium. Game time on LSN is set for 4 p.m.