Austin Nets Hat Trick as Delaware Cruises to Second Straight Win with 14-2 Victory Over Mercer
Photos Courtesy of Mark Campbell
NEWARK, Del. -- It's been a long road back to the lacrosse field for University of Delaware senior midfielder John Austin, so his performance in Monday's 14-2 men's lacrosse victory over Mercer had special meaning.
Austin (at right), who missed all but five games last season with a knee injury and then sat out the first two games this season after suffering an achilles tendon injury in the fall, recorded his first hat trick in over a year Monday as the Blue Hens jumped out to a 7-0 lead after the first quarter and cruised to their second straight win at wind-blown Delaware Stadium.
The Blue Hens (5-7), who were coming off an 11-7 win at Michigan just two days ago, outshot the Bears 51-31 and held a 55-30 advantage in groundballs in the wire-to-wire victory. The 51 shots and 55 groundballs were both season highs for Delaware.
“It feels great to get the win and score some goals,” said Austin, who has now scored a goal in five straight games after netting just one in his first five games back. “This past year has been kind of strange for me but I really feel like I’m getting into a groove. We made the goalkeeper work today and things are starting to click for me.”
Mercer (1-12), playing only its second season of NCAA Division I lacrosse, suffered its third straight loss. Austin, who finished with three goals for his first hat trick since a three-goal effort vs. Presbyterian on Feb. 12, 2011, was among 12 Blue Hen players to score a goal on the afternoon.
Delaware senior Grant Kaleikau, who extended his point-scoring streak to 15 games going back to last season, scored a goal and dished out three assists while Nick Diachenko and Mark Yetter each contributed a goal and two assists. Injury-plagued Dan Cooney also won 7 of 9 faceoffs for the Hens while freshman goalkeeper Brett Anton (at left) record 14 saves. Anton was a last-minute replacement for starter Chris Herbert, who was hit by a shot during the final minute of pre-game drills and was held out of action due to concussion symptoms.
Mercer got a goal and as assist from Zack Ward and a goal from Brett Eisenmann. Goalkeeper Justin Bateman posted 15 saves in the losing effort.
“We are pleased with the win,” said Delaware head coach Bob Shillinglaw, whose squad snapped a four-game losing streak with the win over Michigan Saturday. “It’s great to get back-to-back wins and we hope it is a stepping stone to Saint Joseph’s on Saturday. “We played hard the entire game and after a sloppy start we picked it up and did what we needed to do to get the win.”
The two goals allowed by the Hens marked Delaware’s best defensive effort since posting a 13-2 season-opening victory over Saint Joseph’s in 2009.
Delaware, which peppered Mercer with 25 shots in the first quarter alone, put the game away early as the Hens jumped out to a 7-0 lead after the opening stanza and a 9-1 advantage heading into halftime. Six different UD players scored in the opening quarter with Austin netting two goals. Mercer finally got on the board with a goal by Ward four minutes into the second stanza, but Delaware answered with goals from Gilson and Sean Finegan to take the eight-goal lead at the break.
The Hens outscored the Bears 3-0 in the third quarter and then added two more to start the final stanza to complete a seven-goal run and increase the lead to 14-1. Delaware’s final goal was a man-up tally by Danny Keane, who scored his conference-leading seventh man-up goal of the year.
Delaware will look to keep the win streak going this Saturday when the Hens return to Delaware Stadium to host Colonial Athletic Association foe Saint Joseph's.