February 19, 2011

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No. 17 Delaware Hangs on to Move to 3-0

from press release

NEWARK, Del. -- The No. 17 ranked University of Delaware men's lacrosse squad led the entire way, but had to withstand a tense final minute of play to stay unbeaten and post an 8-7 victory over Marist at wind-blown Delaware Stadium Saturday afternoon.

Junior attackman Eric Smith posted his second straight hat trick, junior attackman Grant Kaleikau dished out three assists in his season debut, senior midfielder Nick Elsmo scored twice on extra man situations, and senior goalkeeper Noah Fossner came up with several big plays in the final 60 seconds as Delaware stayed unbeaten and improved to 3-0 for the fifth time in the last eight seasons and for the first time since the 2008 campaign.

Marist, playing its season opener following a 2010 season that saw the team go 8-7 and advance to the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference semifinals, fell behind 4-0 in the opening eight minutes but methodically rallied back before falling just short. The Red Foxes two goals from Corey Zindel while Connor Rice and Bob von Hoffman each contributed a goal and an assist.

“I was really pleased with the way our guys handled things when the game got close today,” said Delaware head coach Bob Shillinglaw, whose team faces a big challenge Tuesday when the Hens host No. 11 Johns Hopkins (1-0) at Delaware Stadium. “We had too many turnovers and missed chances at groundballs, but Marist is a good team and they made more plays. You can’t give opportunities away in Division I men’s lacrosse, but fortunately some of our veteran guys stepped up and made plays down the stretch.”

Anthony Ruiz, John Mills, and Sean Finegan also scored goals for the Blue Hens while Fossner made nine saves and Dan Cooney won 10 of 18 faceoffs. Kaleikau, who missed the first two games of the season with an injury, extended his team-leading point-scoring streak to 15 games.

The game was played during a National Weather Service wind advisory as a steady 30 mile per hour wind howled throughout the game.

Delaware jumped out to a quick 4-0 lead in the first eight minutes of the first stanza but Marist chipped away and eventually pulled to within a goal when Aedan Herman scored with 7:10 left to play and von Hoffman tallied at the 4:50 mark.

Neither team scored again, but Marist had its opportunities. The Red Foxes had a man advantage after a penalty on Delaware’s John Austin with 1:38 left, but John Marks was wide on a shot with 1:15 left and his rocket 14 seconds laster was saved by Fossner.

Delaware cleared the ball successfully, but Blue Hen midfielder Dom Sebastiani had the ball stripped in Marist territory by Kevin Defranco with 36 seconds left. A shot by von Hoffman with 19 seconds left was wide, but Marist retained possession and called a timeout. Marist moved
the ball around for a final shot, but Fossner stepped out of the crease to intercept a pass by Zindel with five seconds left that clinched the win for the Hens.

The Blue Hens improved to 3-0 all-time vs. Marist after posting victories of 10-3 in 2003 and 12-6 in 2008.

Delaware jumped out to a 4-0 lead with Smith scoring three minutes in and Elsmo followed with a man-up goal just 53 seconds later. Mills and Finegan scored over the next four minutes for the 4-0 lead with 7:10 left.

Marist stormed back, breaking the ice on a goal by Matt Dugan with 6:27 left in the first quarter followed by a Zindel goal two minutes later and a score by Jack Doherty early in the second quarter to cut the UD  lead to 4-3.

Delaware responded on goals by Ruiz and Smith before Marist narrowed the halftime gap to 6-4 on a goal by Rice with just 59 seconds left before the break.

Another man-up goal by Elsmo to start the second half upped the Delaware lead to three before Zindel and Smith traded goals to give Delaware an 8-5 advantage heading into the final stanza. Delaware would not score again, but the Hens managed to hold off the Marist comeback, halting the Red Foxes after Herman and von Hoffman scored fourth quarter goals.

“I thought we did well as a team today but we still have a lot of things to work on,” said Smith, who now leads the Hens with seven goals on the season. “We have a big one on Tuesday (vs. Johns Hopkins) to prepare for.”


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