No. 18 Delaware Rallies Again for Comeback Win, Downs Rival Drexel 9-7 to Stay Atop CAA Standings
April 2, 2011
At right: John Mills scored the go-ahead goal for the Blue Hens Saturday (File Photo Courtesy of Mark Campbell)
PHILADELPHIA -- An interesting pattern seems to be emerging in University of Delaware men’s lacrosse games of late, and the Blue Hens like the results just fine.
Despite once again falling behind by multiple goals in the opening quarter, the No. 18 ranked Blue Hens stormed back and came through again, remaining atop the Colonial Athletic Association standings with a 9-7 victory over host Drexel at blustery Vidas Field Saturday afternoon.
The Blue Hens (7-3, 3-0 CAA) won their third straight game and extended their win streak over conference opponents to eight straight dating back to last April. The 3-0 start is the best for the Hens in league play since joining the CAA in 2002 and their best since starting out 4-0 in the America East conference in 2000. The eight-game winning streak vs. league foes is the longest for Delaware since winning 11 straight over three seasons in 1998-2000.
Games during the recent three-game win streak have followed an almost identical pattern. Delaware fell behind 2-0 in the opening four minutes vs. then No. 4 ranked Hofstra back on March 19 before rallying for a 7-6 victory. Last Saturday, Towson broke out to a 5-0 lead in the opening 11 minutes before the Hens methodically chipped away at the Tiger lead and came away with an 8-7 triumph.
The Hens fell behind 4-2 after one period on Saturday vs. Drexel and were down 5-2 at halftime before netting four straight goals to open the second half, tying the score at 5-5 on a goal by Sean Finegan with 9:09 left and taking a one-goal lead just 66 seconds later on a score by Eric Smith.
Drexel came back to tie the game at 6-6 on a goal by Brendan Glynn with 6:58 left in the stanza, but consecutive goals by Delaware’s John Mills (at right) and Brendan Gilson 40 seconds apart early in the final stanza put the Hens up for good. Grant Kaleikau’s tally with 1:17 left was the insurance the Hens needed to move on to the win. Gilson’s goal, just the second of the freshman’s young career, was the game’s lone man-up goal.
“We just told our guys at halftime that it wasn’t about the x’s and the o’s, but about coming out strong and cranking up the energy level” said Delaware head coach Bob Shillinglaw, who won career game No. 295. “We came out and played with 100 percent heart and dominated the first six or eight minutes of the second half and go the lead. After Drexel came back to tie, we just weathered the punches and finished it off. Once again, it was two good teams battling hard in conference play.”
Finegan led the Hens with two goals while Kaleikau scored once and dished out two assists and Kevin Kaminki and Smith each recorded a goal and an assist. Smith, the Hens’ leading scorer, has now produced a point in all 10 games this season. Goalkeeper Noah Fossner, the reigning CAA Player of the Week, came up with another big effort with 10 saves in goal, including six in the second half and four in the final stanza.
Drexel, which entered the game leading the CAA in scoring offense at 11.1 goals per game, was held four goals under its average as the Dragons (5-5, 1-2 CAA) suffered their second straight loss following a four-game win streak. Robert Church led the way with two goals and an assist while Nick Trizano scored twice and Kyle Bergman had a goal and an assist. Delaware held CAA goal-scoring leader Scott Perri (25 goals) to a single goal and two assists on the afternoon.
Finegan scored for Delaware just two minutes into the game but Drexel stormed back with three straight off the sticks of Perry, Trizano, and Church to take the lead. After Kaminski scored for the Hens to cut the lead to 3-2, Bergman tallied with just three seconds left in the first quarter and Church scored the only goal of the second quarter with 7:39 remaining to send the Dragons into the break up 5-2.
Nick Diachenko and Nick Elsmo fueled the comeback for the Hens to start the second half as they scored 43 seconds apart and Finegan’s second goal four minutes later tied the game at 5-5. Smith put the Hens up by a goal before Glynn’s tally tied it again.
Goals by Mills and Gilson gave the Hens the 8-6 lead before Trizano scored off a Perry feed at the 5:47 mark to narrow the Delaware lead to just a single goal. But the Hens were able to hold on thanks to some tough defensive play down the stretch and Kaleikau’s goal at the 1:17 mark gave them some breathing room.
Delaware will take a week off from CAA play but return to the Philadelphia area next Saturday, Apr. 9, when the Hens travel to eighth-ranked Villanova for a 7 p.m. non-league matchup. The Wildcats (7-3) fell to No. 2 ranked Notre Dame 12-8 on Saturday.