NEWARK, Del. – One thing is for sure. The 2018 University of Delaware men’s lacrosse season is not for the faint of heart.


All 10 games that the Blue Hens have played, including three against top-10 opponents, entered the fourth-quarter with the score within two goals or less.


Friday night, it was the same story as Delaware battled UMass, a perennial CAA contender, to the final buzzer, but ultimately dropped a heartbreaker, 9-8.


“This one stings. Our guys fought and battled all night long. Credit to UMass for making the plays down the stretch in order to win,” head coach Ben DeLuca said. “As we continue to build our culture, we have to learn how to finish and it will come by continuing to trust the process each and every day, understanding that every detail proves critical in tight games, and that’s ratcheted up even more in conference games.”


Senior Dean DiSimone posted his third hat trick of the season and second in the past three games, finishing with three goals and an assist on the evening. Sophomore Charlie Kitchen extended his goal-scoring streak to 13 consecutive games and has now scored in 24 of his 25 career games.


The defensive duo of Zach Strassner and Liam Duff combined for five ground balls and two caused turnovers, while the Blue Hens defensive unit held the highest scoring offense in the CAA to nine goals on the night, three below their average. Sophomore Matt DeLuca finished the night with nine saves.


“This group has proven that it won’t stop working. We’ll get back to work this week and focus on another tough task next week and getting better every time we step on the field,” DeLuca added.


In the battle of the top two offenses in the CAA, DiSimone got the scoring going for the Blue Hens early, firing one home less than three minutes in. He added another with under five minutes to play in the first quarter as Delaware held a 2-0 lead after the first 15 minutes.


It was the first time in 26 games that Delaware had held its opponent scoreless in the first quarter (April 23, 2016 against Drexel).


UMass would erase that zero with a goal 13 seconds into the second quarter, but three minutes later senior Jackson Finigan answered with his third of the season to make it a 3-1 lead for the Blue Hens.


Junior Chase Konkel scored his first collegiate goal with under nine minutes to play in the first half and DiSimone would finish off his hat trick to send the Blue Hens into halftime with a 5-2 lead.


Both defenses would lock down to start the second half with neither team scoring for the first eight minutes of the third quarter.


Kitchen found senior Will Hirschmann for his 18thgoal of the year to push Delaware’s lead to 6-2 with under seven minutes left in the third quarter.


That’s when UMass started its rally, scoring three times in a six-minute span to make it a one-goal game at 6-5.


However, the Blue Hens got an unbelievable goal from freshman Mark Bieda with :00.3 seconds left on the third quarter clock to hold a 7-5 advantage heading into the final 15 minutes.


UMass would win back-to-back face-offs to start the fourth and quickly tie the game at 7-7 less than 20 seconds into the final quarter.


The Minutemen took their first lead of the game with 12:17 to play and added an empty net goal with 1:13 remaining to grab a 9-7 cushion.


That’s when chaos ensued as Kitchen found the back of the net with 40 seconds left and the Blue Hens put the pressure on UMass’ defensive unit and nearly caused a turnover that would have resulted in the game-tying goal with three seconds left, but a penalty was called to wipe out the goal and give the Minutemen the 9-8 victory.


Delaware hits the road for its first CAA road test next Saturday when it travels to Hofstra. Game time in Hempstead, N.Y. is set for 1 p.m.