Blue Hens Qualify for CAA Tournament with 1-0 Victory over VCU; Hewitt Scores Game-Winner
November 7, 2010
Game Photos Courtesy of Mark Campbell
Top Right: Courtney Hewitt (22) and the team celebrate after the win.
Below Left: (from left) Hewitt, Demar Stephenson and Vincent Mediate celebrate the game-winning goal.
NEWARK, Del. – Courtney Hewitt scored the biggest goal in the last 15 seasons for the University of Delaware men’s soccer team. His tally, on a pass from Jon Scheer, sealed the Blue Hens berth in the Colonial Athletic Association playoffs for the first time since Delaware joined the league in 2002 as the Hens knocked off Virginia Commonwealth University 1-0 on Sunday afternoon.
“These players were fortunate enough to savor the excitement of being part of a conference year that literally came down to the last day, and they got to play in that game,” said head coach Ian Hennessy, who guides the Hens to their first CAA berth. “I will certainly treasure it and I think it will make for good conversation for the lads in future alumni games".
Prior to the game, Hennessy and the team honored its senior class of Hewitt, Scheer, Demar Stephenson, Chibsah Faisal, Conrad Rusnak and Ben Rodkey.
Hewitt’s tally was the biggest goal of the program’s history since 1996 when Dan Schultz buried the winning goal over Hofstra in a 2-1 victory, earning a spot in the America East Conference Tournament.. That game was also played in Newark with Cole Gillespie on the assist.
With blustery conditions, Scheer read the wind perfectly, sending in a perfect pass from the left side of the field, finding the 6-1 Hewitt on the right side of the pitch. Hewitt used every inch of his frame, getting his head on the ball and sending it to the top right corner for the winner in the 70th minute.
“It happened in a fashion where he came in, and was just class on that header,” said Scheer of Hewitt’s goal. “It just shows how hard he works and how hard this team works.”
In goal for Delaware (6-8-3, 4-4-2), sophomore Brandon Paul continued to play outstanding soccer, making five saves in his third consecutive shutout. Paul had help from his three backs, John Dineen, Darren O’Connor and Roberto Vernaschi, who all sacrificed their bodies to assure the shutout.
On several occasions, the Rams (8-7-3, 5-2-4) get deep into Blue Hen territory, but the backs made brilliant tackles to clear the ball, including Dineen, who made a sliding stop in front of the VCU bench before getting the ball up the field to Scheer on the game-winning play.
“That last 20 minutes, Court (Hewitt) put us under pressure,” said Dineen, joking with Hewitt about the goal, “but we held out again and that’s three games in a row. He (Paul) was brilliant as always.”
The Blue Hens played well down the stretch, concluding the regular season on a three-game home winning streak, all of which were shutouts. Delaware, which had its biggest home crowd of the season, finished the season as the only team in the CAA to go undefeated and untied at home. Over the last six games, the Hens posted a record of 3-1-2, picking up 11 of their 17 points towards their first berth in the tournament.
With wind gusts upwards of 30 miles per hour, both teams limited their offense on shots, with the Rams taking 11 while Delaware attempted nine. Scheer led the game with three shots, putting all three on goal.
The Ram’s offense was balanced, with three players, Nick Rich, Romena Bowie and Yoram Mwila, each taking two shots. Rich led the squad with two shots on goal. Ram netminder Josh Pantazelos made five saves on Delaware six shots on goal.
"The reason for our success in conference this season is the solidarity amongst the players,” said Hennessy of his close-knit team. “The solidarity in cutting out the off-field distractions, coming in fit for preseason, working extra hard during the spring and being prepared to compete in every practice. If you want to know where this team found success, you will find it there.”
With its 17 points, Delaware locked up the fourth seed. Old Dominion also had 17 points, but the Hens earned the tiebreaker following a 1-0 victory over the Monarchs on Oct. 2.
Delaware, which was selected to finish 10th in the Preseason Coaches Poll, draws the No. 1 seed William & Mary on Friday at 7:30 p.m. In the regular season meeting, also held in Williamsburg, the Tribe narrowly edged out Delaware 2-1, the Hens’ only loss in the last six games.
The other semifinal game will feature the second-seeded Rams against the No. 3 Pride of Hofstra University. The winners of each game will faceoff on Sunday at 1 p.m.
For more information regarding the tournament, please continue to visit BlueHens.com for updates as they become available.
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