NEWARK, Del. – A challenging 13-game slate that includes three games against teams that advanced to the NCAA Tournament a year ago highlights the 2018 University of Delaware men’s lacrosse schedule that was revealed by new Blue Hen head coach Ben DeLuca Tuesday afternoon.

Delaware will host seven games at Delaware Stadium during the upcoming season, including Colonial Athletic Association matchups vs. longtime rival Drexel, Fairfield, and Massachusetts, and non-league opponents Mt. St. Mary’s, NJIT, Villanova, and Mercer.

Of the 13 teams on Delaware’s schedule, seven had winning records a year ago with Johns Hopkins, Monmouth, and league foe Towson advancing to the NCAA Tournament. Towson advanced to the national semifinals before falling to Ohio State. All told, Delaware’s opponents went a combined 103-92 a year ago.

“We are excited about the schedule,” said DeLuca, who was named Delaware’s ninth head coach in May, taking over for legendary coach Bob Shillinglaw, who won over 300 games over the last 39 seasons before retiring at the conclusion of the 2017 campaign. “We have put together a great schedule that will challenge our team immensely and get us ready for conference play. The CAA is always a physical, tough brand of lacrosse with terrific coaches. Towson is coming off a Final Four year but you name it, all of them will be big games for us.”

Delaware will open the spring playing two exhibition games, including an annual home scrimmage with Colgate on Jan. 27 and a trip west to battle national power Denver on Feb. 3.

The Hens will open the regular season at home for two games, taking on Mt. St. Mary’s on Feb. 10 and first-time opponent NJIT on Feb. 17. After traveling to 2017 NCAA Tournament participant Monmouth on Feb. 24, the Hens will return home to host Villanova on Mar. 3 and Mercer on Mar. 6. Mercer appears on the Hens’ schedule for the first time since 2012.

Delaware will then embark on a challenging three-game road swing that will include a March 10 game at Binghamton, which went 11-5 in 2017, a March 17 matchup vs. storied program Johns Hopkins, and a March 24 visit to Rutgers.

The Hens will meet Hopkins for the first time since 2012 and will continue their rivalry against Rutgers, a team that went 10-4 a year ago with one of the losses a 13-9 setback to the Blue Hens on March 25 at Delaware Stadium when the Scarlet Knights were ranked No. 1 in the nation.

The season will close out with five leagues games – home games vs. Fairfield (March 31) and UMass (Apr. 7), road games at Hofstra (April 14) and defending CAA champion Towson (April 21), and the regular season finale on April 27 vs. Drexel at Delaware Stadium.

The four-team CAA Tournament will take place on May 3-5 at the site of the regular season champion.

Delaware will be looking to rebound from a tough 2017 season in which the Hens went 7-8, but lost six games by four goals or less. Delaware won seven of nine games at one point in the season.

Among the leading returners to the squad in 2018 include second team All-CAA midfielder Will Hirschmann (17 goals), second team All-CAA defenseman Austin Haynes, CAA All-Rookie selections in attackman Charlie Kitchen (28 goals) and goalkeeper Matt DeLuca (10.08 GAA, .523 save pct.), and last year’s leading scorer Andrew Romagnoli (34 goals).

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