Delaware Rallies to Win Yet Another Thriller, Downs Rival Towson 8-7 in CAA Showdown
March 26, 2011
Photos Courtesy of Mark Campbell
NEWARK, Del. -- Another big Colonial Athletic Association showdown, another thrilling comeback victory for the University of Delaware men's lacrosse squad.
For the second straight week, the Blue Hens fell behind early, chipped away at the deficit, and came up with a home conference victory in the end as Delaware downed rival Towson 8-7 Saturday afternoon at chilly Delaware Stadium.
Delaware (6-3, 2-0 CAA), coming off a 7-6 upset win over then No. 4 Hofstra last week, took its only lead of the day on junior attackman Eric Smith's goal with 4:29 left to play and the Blue Hens held on the rest of the way to pick up their second straight victory.
Towson (2-5, 0-1 CAA), which was coming off a 9-8 win over then No. 5 Stony Brook last Saturday, stormed out to a 5-0 lead in the first 11 minutes of the game but were limited to just a single goal in the second and fourth quarters the rest of the afternoon.
The game was a rematch of last year's CAA championship game won by Delaware 12-9 at Towson. Another page was added to this hard-fought rivalry as each of the last eight games have been decided by three goals or less and 17 of the last 20 winning margins have been by four goals or fewer.
Smith (top right) and Sean Finegan each finished with two goals to lead the Blue Hens while last week’s hero, Grant Kaleikau, added a goal and two assists and goalkeeper Noah Fossner (bottom right) turned back 10 shots. Kevin Kaminski (below left) tied the game up at 7-7 with his 50th career goal early in the final stanza to spark the Hens, who won at home for the 10th time in the last 11 games dating back to last season.
Smith, Delaware’s leading scorer with 13 goals and the only member of the team who has scored a point in every game this season, netted his second game-winner of the season. He also tallied the game-clincher in overtime in a 12-11 triumph over Bellarmine back on Feb. 27. Four of Delaware’s six wins this season have been by a single goal.
Tim Stratton and Matt Hughes each had two goals and an assist on the day, Pat Britton scored twice, and Carl Iacona scored once and dished out an assist to pace the Towson attack. Goalkeeper Travis Love recorded nine saves.
"When Delaware and Towson get together you expect a dogfight and we had one today," said Delaware head coach Bob Shillinglaw, who picked up career win No. 294 and moved to within six victories of reaching the 300-win milestone accomplished by only four coaches in NCAA Division I history. "It's great to come away with a victory over a real quality conference opponent. I was so proud of the way our guys hung in there when we got behind. We just wanted to see if we could weather it, chip away at the lead, and just concentrate on the next play. I love our guys. They deserve a lot of credit for the way they responded."
Towson came out red-hot, scoring 14 seconds after the opening faceoff and going up 3-0 on a score by Hughes and two from Britton before the Blue Hens even put their first shot on goal with 6:48 left in the opening stanza. Consecutive goals by Stratton over a span of 44 seconds pushed the Tiger lead to 5-0 with 4:06 remaining.
But Delaware persevered and finally got on the board when Elsmo scored on a nice move in front of the net with 2:50 left to play. A flurry of goals got the Hens back into the game as Finegan scored 31 seconds later and Kaleikau followed by netting a goal with 29 seconds remaining and feeding Smith for another score at the seven-second mark to cut the margin to 5-4.
Hughes scored his second goal of the game for Towson just 35 seconds into the second quarter to push the lead back to two before the Hens tied things up at the half with Kaleikau feeding Finegan with 10:04 remaining and John Mills tallying with 7:31 left before the break.
A wild first half was followed by a calm third quarter as neither team was able to get on the board for the entire 15 minutes despite seven shots by each team.
The scoring resumed early in the final stanza as Iacona scored an unassisted goal for Towson just 2:39 into the period, but that would be the end of the offense for the Tigers.
Delaware tied things up at 7-7 with 11:11 left to play when Kaminski, who ended a two-game scoring drought, rifled a shot past Love for his 50th career tally. The Hens followed with the eventual game-winner at the 4:29 mark when Taylor Burns picked up a groundball in his own territory, raced down the middle of the field, and fed Smith on the right side. Smith then blazed the game-winner past Love from 15 yards out.
The Tigers had the chance to tie things up and send the game into overtime in the final minute but couldn’t connect as a clear shot by Britton with 21 seconds left went wide and a tough angle attempt by Iacona with four seconds remaining was well off the mark.
“This feels great,” said Kaminski of the win. “Any time you can get a win in conference play it means a lot. After Towson went up in the first quarter, we knew our defense would make some stops and we just had to get some goals. Thankfully we got hot late in the quarter and after that we locked them down.”
Delaware will return to action next Saturday, Apr. 2, when the Blue Hens travel to Philadelphia to take on Drexel at 1 p.m.