Blue Hens On the Hunt For The Playoffs
November 5, 2010
File Photos Courtesy of Mark Campbell
NEWARK, Del. – The task is simple; win Sunday afternoon’s game versus Virginia Commonwealth at 1 p.m. at Delaware Mini Stadiu and make the Colonial Athletic Association Tournament. The Blue Hens look to accomplish something they have not achieved since the 1996 season: make the postseason.
Delaware (5-8-3, 4-4-2) has not reached the postseason since the 1996 season when it was still a member of the America East Conference. The Blue Hens have never reached the CAA Tournament since the sports first season in 2002.
But despite historical shortcomings, Delaware has achieved several firsts and snapped long streaks this season. Last weekend, the Hens defeated UNC Wilmington for the first team since the teams met in 2002. Last Wednesday, Delaware broke a 13-year winless skid versus Towson, and a 25-year drought at Delaware Mini Stadium.
The playoff scenario breaks down like this: with a win over VCU, Delaware picks up 17 points and makes the tournament. UD wins the head-to-head tiebreaker with Old Dominion and George Mason (based on a win over 2nd place VCU). In a 3-way tiebreaker between Mason, ODU and Delaware: Delaware gets the highest seed (1-0-1), Mason (0-0-2) would be next; ODU (0-1-1) would not make the tournament.
Prior to the game, head coach Ian Hennessy and his staff will honor the squad’s six seniors, Demar Stephenson, Ben Rodkey, Chibsah Faisal, Jon Scheer, Courtney Hewitt and Conrad Rusnak.
Earlier this week, sophomore netminder Brandon Paul earned several weekly honors. He was selected as the CAA’s Co-Player of the Week, the National 5 & 10 Stores Inc. Best of the Blue Hens Athlete of the Week and earned Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) Defensive Player of the Week honors. He notched two 1-0 shutouts over Towson and UNCW, while making 13 saves including seven versus the Seahawks.
Delaware Mini Stadium has been kind to the Blue Hens this season, as they 5-3 overall at home, including 4-0 in CAA play.
Scheer (above at right) leads the team’s balanced offense, with eight points on four goals. He has been clutch late in games, scoring three game winners including the lone marker versus Towson. Junior Evans Frimpong is the team’s top shooting threat, taking 54 attempts while scoring three goals and has one assist for seven points. Fellow junior Kyle Ellis also has seven points with one goal and five assists, one of which was on Scheer’s winner versus Towson.
Stephenson and freshman Mike White each have two goals for four points, while Vincent Mediate scored his first career goal in the 1-0 win over UNCW. He also has one assist for three points.
Between the pipes, Paul (below at left) has recorded a team-high 33 saves, carrying a save percentage of .750. He also registered two of Delaware’s five shutouts this season.
As a team, Delware has taken 246 shots, holding its opponents to just 217. The Hens put nearly half of their shots on goal (.443) with 109 on the mark. Delaware plays a relatively clean game, being carded just 21 times while opponents have earned 24 yellows.
The Rams, who have locked down the No. 2 seed the league tournament with 19 points, come to Newark with an overall record of 8-3-6 and 5-1-4 in CAA action.
VCU is riding a two-game winning streak after knocking out Towson 1-0 on Oct. 31 and edging James Madison 3-2 to secure the Rams’ playoff spot.
CJ Gehin-Scott is one of three Rams in double-digit points, scoring eight goals with two assists, tying him for fourth in the league with 18 points. Jake Van Yahres is second on VCU with 13 points (4g, 5a) while Jason Johnson has 11 (4g, 3a). Gehin-Scott has taken 50 shots this season while tallying four game winners and converting both of his penalty kick attempts.
Between the pipes, the Rams have had two keepers log more than 500 minutes. Gabriel Rodriguez has played in 1,110 minutes, making 11 appearances with nine starts. Josh Pantazelos has seen 579 minutes of action, getting the nod on six occasions. They have combined for 57 saves, stopping 29 and 28 shots, respectively.
As a team, VCU has a high-powered offense, scoring 23 goals this season, averaging 1.35 per contest. The Rams have taken 239 shots, holding opponents to 199 attempts and just 12 goals. VCU has eight shutouts on the books this season.
The Blue Hens and the Rams have squared off eight times since their first meeting in 1994. VCU holds a 6-2 advantage in the series, but Delaware has won the last two matches, taking a 1-0 overtime victory in 2008 followed by a 2-1 win on the road last season. Under Hennessy, who took over the program in 2006, Delaware is 2-3.
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