University of Delaware Men’s Soccer Headed Back to State of Virginia as Blue Hens Draw Virginia for NCAA 1st Round Game
November 14, 2011
Photo Courtesy of the Anthony Terranova
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- Just 24 hours after they left the state of Virginia with their first-ever Colonial Athletic Association championship trophy in hand, the University of Delaware men’s soccer squad found out Monday that it will be headed right back for the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
The Blue Hens, who defeated Old Dominion Sunday afternoon in the CAA title game to capture their first tournament championship in the school’s 85-year history, found out Monday afternoon that they have drawn the University of Virginia for the first round of the NCAA Tournament. The two teams will square off this Thursday, Nov. 17, at 7 p.m. at UVa’s Klockner Stadium in Charlottesville. This will mark the first meeting between the two schools in men’s soccer.
Delaware, which had endured 14 straight losing seasons before breaking through on the upside this fall, will be making its third NCAA Tournament appearance in school history but its first since 1970. The Hens (12-5-4), who were picked No. 11 in the CAA pre-season coaches poll, will take on a Virginia team that fell to North Carolina 1-0 in the Atlantic Coast Conference semifinals this past weekend. The Cavaliers (12-7-1) have won five national titles in school history, including one as recently as 2009.
The Blue Hens competed in the NCAA Tournament two previous times, falling to Temple 3-2 in the 1968 regional quarterfinals and 2-1 to Penn State during the 1970 regional quarterfinals for former head coach Loren Kline.
“What a fabulous feeling,” said sixth-year Delaware head coach Ian Hennessy, who has engineered the remarkable Blue Hen turnaround. “This is a season we will never forget and it’s something that bonds us together for life. This group of young men has overcome the odds to get to this point and it’s exciting to live this through their eyes. We want to play the best teams in the country and we want to go down there and get a victory. We want to stand shoulder to shoulder with them and I feel that can be done. But certainly we know Virginia is a very good team.”
Delaware was one of 48 teams among the tournament field announced Monday afternoon on www.ncaa.com. The Delaware vs. Virginia winner will advance to take on UCLA in Los Angeles in the second round on Sunday, Nov. 20, at 10 p.m. EDT. The No. 6 ranked Bruins (15-4-1), winners of four national titles, were on of 16 teams receiving first round byes.
The Blue Hens were also among four CAA teams selected to the field. No. 14 seed James Madison (12-4-2), who the Hens got past on penalty kicks in the CAA semifinals Friday night, will host the winner of the Wake Forest vs. South Carolina game on Sunday; Georgia State (13-7-1) will travel to Duke on Thursday; and Old Dominion (12-5-1), who the Hens dispatched in the CAA title game, will host Liberty on Thursday.
“This feels so great to be a part of the tournament,” said Delaware senior midfielder Darren O’Connor. “It’s going to be a great game and we are really looking forward to it. Virginia is one of the most recognized names in college soccer but we are going down there to win. We have two of the best strikers in the country (Evans Frimpong and Robert Gimenez) so hopefully we will be ready to go.”
The Blue Hens, who had not posted a winning season since the 1996 season, turned the corner in 2010 when they advanced to the CAA Tournament for the first time since joining the league in 2002. Still, when the CAA pre-season rankings came out in August, the Hens were picked No. 11 out of 12 teams.
Delaware paid little mind to the opinions of the league coaches, jumping out to a 6-0-1 start and cruising to a spot in the CAA Tournament as the No. 4 seed. The Blue Hens established a school record with 12 wins and also surpassed the season goal record with 39 thanks to the play of CAA Player of the Year Frimpong and CAA Rookie of the Year Gimenez. Both ranked among the national leaders in goals with Frimpong scoring 12 marks and Gimenez contributing 10 markers on the year. O’Connor also earned All-CAA honors while freshmen Prince Nartey and Yoan Fontaine earned spots on the CAA All-Rookie team. Senior goalkeeper Kris Devaux was solid all season long, posting five shutouts, a 1.23 goals against average, and a .761 save percentage.
Virginia, which outscored opponents 40-26 this season, is led offensively by Will Bates, who has scored a team-high 14 goals, and Brian Span, who has tallied seven goals and dished out five assists. In goal, Spencer LaCivita has posted seven shutouts along with a 1.27 goals against average and a .740 save percentage. Among the Cavaliers victories this season are wins NCAA Tournament participants Duke, Maryland, and Wake Forest.
The teams had just one common opponent - Navy. Delaware downed the Midshipmen 5-3 back on Sept. 14 in Annapolis while the Cavaliers were 2-0 winners over Navy on Oct. 11 in Charlottesville.
First Round Games: Elon at Coastal Carolina (Winner plays at No. 1 North Carolina in 2nd round); Liberty at Old Dominion (Winner at No. 16 Indiana); Fairfield at Brown (Winner at No. 9 St. John’s); St. Mary’s at CSU Bakersfield (Winner at No. 8 UC Irvine); Xavier at West Virginia (Winner at No. 5 Maryland); Loyola Chicago at Bradley (Winner at No. 12 Louisville); Delaware at Virginia (Winner at No. 13 UCLA); Colgate at Rutgers (Winner at No. 4 Boston College); Stony Brook at Monmouth (Winner at No. 3 Connecticut); Wake Forest at South Carolina (Winner at No. 14 James Madison); Furman at Charlotte (Winner at No. 11 UAB); Northwestern at Akron (Winner at No. 6 SMU); Florida Gulf Coast at Central Florida (Winner at No. 7 South Florida); Georgia State at Duke (Winner at No. 10 New Mexico); Dartmouth at Providence (Winner at No. 15 UC Santa Barbara); Western Illinois and Northern Illinois (Winner at No. 2 Creighton).
3rd Round: Nov. 27
Quarterfinals: Dec. 2-4
Semifinals at Hoover, Ala: Dec. 9
Championship at Hoover, Ala: Dec. 11