Delaware Men’s Laxers Look to Claim Second Straight League Title; Head to UMass for CAA Championship Saturday
May 6, 2011
File Photo Courtesy of Mark Campbell
AMHERST, Mass. -- By the time the University of Delaware men’s lacrosse squad returns home from the Colonial Athletic Association Championship Game this weekend, the team will have spent 32 hours on a bus over the last 10 days.
And if everything goes the way they hope, the Blue Hens will be pulling into Newark early Sunday morning a little weary, but with a championship trophy in hand.
Delaware (10-6), which entered the CAA Tournament as the No. 4 seed and riding a two-game losing streak in which they scored just eight goals, will be looking to capture its second straight league title and its third in five years Saturday when the Blue Hens take on No. 3 seed and host Massachusetts at 7 p.m. at Garber Field.
The Hens, led by veteran head coach Bob Shillinglaw, advanced to the title game thanks to a 10-9 win over top-seed and eighth-ranked Hofstra Wednesday night in Hempstead, N.Y, snapping the Pride’s eight-game winning streak and putting an end to the nation’s longest home winning streak at 15. The 19th-ranked Minutemen, who advanced with a 10-9 overtime win over No. 2 seed and 20th ranked Penn State, bring a record of 10-4 into the game, including a decisive 11-5 victory over the Blue Hens last Friday night at Garber Field.
But hitting the road for the CAA championship game has not scared the Hens in recent years. The Blue Hens, who have captured 22 conference titles in their 64-year history, knocked off top-seed Towson 12-9 to win last year’s championship and defeated those same top-seeded Tigers 10-7 to capture the 2007 crown. Saturday’s game will be the Hens’ fifth appearance in the CAA title game since 2005.
The winner of the game will receive the CAA’s automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament. The 16-team field will be announced Sunday night, May 8, at 9 p.m. on ESPNU TV. Neither team is expected to earn an at-large berth should they lose.
Delaware’s veteran defense held Hofstra to just nine goals and forced 16 turnovers Wednesday night as senior goalkeeper Noah Fossner, last year’s CAA Tournament Most Outstanding Payer, collected 11 saves, and three-time All-CAA defender Pat Dowling led the way. The Hens feature a balanced offensive attack with seven players having recorded between 11 and 23 goals on the year. Junior Eric Smith, the team’s leading scorer (23 goals, 17 assists) who has a point in every game this season, and junior All-CAA selection Grant Kaleikau (12g, 25a), who matched a career-high with five assists vs. Hofstra, lead the way.
Massachusetts, which has reached the finals in just its second year in the league, has won five of its six home games this season. The Minutemen are led by first team All-CAA midfielder Anthony Biscardi and second team All-CAA midfielder Will Manny, who each has scored 20 goals this season, and by standout defenders Ryan Hollenbaugh and Tom Celentani. Head coach Greg Cannella shared CAA Coach of the Year honors this spring. CAA All-Rookie pick Connor Mooney scored five goals UMass’ 11-5 win over Delaware last Friday.
The game will be televised locally in the Amherst, Mass. area on CBS3 Now. Live stats and audio can be accessed off the men’s lacrosse schedule and results page on the UD athletics website at www.bluehens.com.