Blue Hens Shock Old Dominion 2-1 to Capture First CAA Title; Earn First NCAA Tourney Berth Since 1970
November 13, 2011
Photos Courtesy of the CAA (Team) and John Stark (All-Tournament Team)
HARRISONBURG, Va. – November 13, 2011 will be a day to remember in University of Delaware men’s soccer history.
Not only did the Blue Hens log their record-setting 12th win of the season Sunday afternoon, but the 2011 squad brought home the program’s first-ever conference championship, knocking off second-seeded and 18th ranked Old Dominion 2-1 in the Colonial Athletic Association Championship game at James Madison University's JMU Soccer Complex.
And after advancing through the CAA Tournament quarterfinals and semifinals with consecutive overtime victories, the Hens did not require extra time to secure the CAA’s automatic qualifying bid to the NCAA Division I Tournament.
Delaware, which had never captured a conference tournament title in its 85-year history and had won a share of just three league crowns in school history, will be headed back to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 41 years.
The Hens made their only NCAA Tournament appearances in both 1968 and 1970, falling in the first round each time.
The field for the entire 48-team tournament will be announced on Monday at 4:30 p.m. on www.ncaa.com.
“It was a very emotional week for the lads at the championships," said sixth-year Delaware head coach Ian Hennessy, whose teams had posted five straight losing seasons before this year and had not posted a winning mark the nine seasons before he took over in 2006. "To come through three top-60 RPI teams, including two NCAA bound teams, in such a short span is a wonderful soccer achievement. With a 12-win season, a conference championship, and being an NCAA team, it is nice to know that we will be mentioned alongside the great 1968 and 1970 teams and the players of that era, who to this day have been nothing but supportive to this current team and staff.”
Delaware (12-5-4), which avenged a 2-0 loss at Old Dominion back in late October, got one of its goals from sophomore midfielder Vincent Mediate, who was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player. Mediate had posted an assist Friday night in the Hens’ game vs. host James Madison.
The Hens’ game-winning goal on Sunday was actually scored by an Old Dominion defender who headed a Mediate cross into the Monarch goal with just over 25 minutes left to play.
Four Blue Hens were named to the CAA All-Tournament Team after helping Delaware lock down one of the conference’s top scorers in ODU’s Yannick Smith. In addition to Mediate, senior goalkeeper Kris Devaux and Ireland natives Darren O’Connor and John Dineen were also honored.
Devaux made seven saves on guard in the Delaware goal against ODU, bringing his tournament total to 20, and allowing just three goals. The senior keeper was also clutch for Delaware in the quarterfinal and semifinal matchups that were decided on penalty kicks.
“Today was a great day for the UD family, our administration at home, and our staff. but most of all, our fabulous group of young men who have represented our great school so well,” said Hennessy, who has guided his program to back-to-back tournament appearances for the first time in school history.
ODU, which won its only CAA titles in 1991 and 2007, had the first true scoring chance as Smith dribbled into the box and got around his defender before the Hens had a great defensive recovery from Yoan Fontaine, who slid over and knocked the ball off Smith’s feet.
It was a different day but the same story as Old Dominion was awarded a penalty kick in the 20th minute after Smith was hauled down in the box. Jordan LeBlanc took the kick for the Monarchs, converting and putting ODU up 1-0. The Hens also fell into a 1-0 hole on Friday night in the CAA semifinal game against James Madison in a similar fashion.
Things got a little chippy with 20 minutes to go in the first half as a pair of Monarchs were issued yellow cards. Jason Gaylor and Tommy Webb were each issued a yellow, leading a physical charge for the Monarchs, which resulted in 15 first half fouls.
The Monarchs, who moved to 12-5-1 on the season after starting the year 11-2, challenged again in the 32nd minute as Tim Hopkinson took a shot inside the box but Devaux made the save. The ball rebounded back to ODU but Devaux was bailed out by his defense as Fontaine again came in and prevented the ball from crossing the goal line.
Mediate deadlocked the game at 1-1 in the 34th minute after controlling a pass broken up by Monarch keeper Victor Francoz. Kyle Nuel got a pass over to CAA Player of the Year Evans Frimpong, who in turn got a pass over to Mediate. Francoz slid along the ground to break things up, but the ball popped up in the air, allowing Mediate to tip home the game-tying goal.
That goal would stand up for the remainder of the first half. Each keeper made a pair of saves in the opening stanza as both teams attempted five shots. ODU held a 5-1 advantage on the corners in the first 45 minutes.
Delaware had a chance early in the second half on a corner kick as Mediate sailed the ball inside. O’Connor tipped a header towards the net with 38 minutes to go in regulation that sailed wide. Dineen had a similar attempt four minutes later but his attempt was thwarted by Francoz.
Delaware got a fortuitous bounce with 25 minutes to play as Mediate sent a pass across the box intended for Mark Garrity. ODU defender Drew Smith tried to break up the play but unintentionally headed the ball into the Monarch goal. Delaware snagged a 2-1 lead with the own goal with 25:29 remaining.
With 13 minutes left to go, Old Dominion nearly knotted things again as Hopkinson took a rip from the top of the box. But his attempt sailed just high, skimming the cross bar in the process.
The Hens pulled up the upset with just eight total shots, but put five of those attempts were on cage. Old Dominion applied the offensive pressure throughout the contest, taking 15 attempts, including 10 in the second half alone.
Old Dominion held a large advantage in corner kicks throughout the game, earning 11 while Delaware managed just two.
CAA All-Tournament Team: Kris Devaux, Delaware; John Dineen, Delaware; Jason Gaylord, Old Dominion; Tim Hopkinson, Old Dominion; Chris Locandro, Georgia State; Stephen McGill, Georgia State; Christian McLaughlin, James Madison; Vincent Mediate, Delaware; Darren O’Connor, Delaware; Tommy Webb, Old Dominion; Paul Wyatt, James Madison;
Most Outstanding Performer: Vincent Mediate, Delaware