Delaware Repeats as CAA Champion
from press release
AMHERST, Mass. -- Just nine days ago, the University of Delaware men's lacrosse was at the low point in its season. On Saturday night, the Blue Hens could not have been flying higher.
Thanks to a hat trick from Tournament Most Outstanding Player Kevin Kaminski and a smothering defense, the Blue Hens (11-6) defeated No. 19 ranked Massachusetts 9-7 at Garber Field to capture Delaware's second consecutive Colonial Athletic Association title and its third in the last five seasons.
The Blue Hens, who avenged an 11-5 setback to the same Massachusetts team last Friday night on the same field, earned a berth in the NCAA tournament for the sixth time in school history with the victory. The 16-team field will be announced Sunday night on ESPNU TV at 9 p.m.
"I am so proud of this team," said Delaware head coach Bob Shillinglaw, who led the Hens to their 23rd conference title overall and posted his 299th career in the process. "We are so excited to get this win. We were behind the eight-ball a little last week after losing our second straight game and not getting the homefield advantage, but our guys worked hard and gutted it out. We beat two great teams on the road."
Kaminski, a first team All-CAA midfielder who was playing in his school-record 70th career game, netted his first hat trick of the season and the fourth of his career to lead the Blue Hens to the victory.
He also scored two goals in the Hens' 10-9 semifinal win over No. 8-ranked Hofstra to earn MVP honors.
"What a great feeling," said Kaminski, who put the Hens up for good midway through the final quarter when he scored twice in a span of three minutes to break a 6-6 tie. "I couldn't have done it without my teammates. A lot of things opened up out there and I just had to put the ball on net and fortunately I was able to do it tonight. This is such a great accomplishment for our school, our team, and our fans. This is a feeling we will remember for the rest of our lives."
John Mills added two first-quarter goals for the Blue Hens, while Grant Kaleikau dished out two assists, Sean Finegan scored a goal and dished out an assist, and Eric Smith contributed an assist to extend his point-scoring streak to 17 games. Senior goalkeeper Noah Fossner, last year's CAA tournament Most Valuable Player, paced the defensive effort with nine saves saves, including three big stops in the final quarter as the Hens pulled ahead.
Junior faceoff specialist Dan Cooney, who had won just three of 12 faceoff attempts in last week's 11-5 loss to Massachusetts and was just 7-of-22 against Hofstra in Wednesday's semifinal victory, had a complete turnaround Saturday night as he went 13-of-19, including all five in the third period.
In addition to Kaminski, Fossner, Cooney, and Kaleikau earned spots on the all-tournament team. Kaleikau had dished out a career-high five assists in the win over Hofstra.
"It's extremely hard to win consecutive titles," said Shillinglaw. "There are so many landmines and injuries that you go through in a season. I am so proud of our guys in that we have been on the road for three straight weeks, spent nearly 40 hours on a bus, and performed unbelievably tonight. We made some adjustments after last week and just wiped the slate clean. Our guys come out and work hard every day and they deserve this win. Hopefully we can keep going from here and win some more games."
Art Kell scored twice and dished out two assists, while Will Manny recorded two goals and two assists for Massachusetts, which fell to 10-5 and lost for just the second time in seven home games this season. Connor Mooney, who scored five goals in last week's win over Delaware, was held scoreless Saturday night.
Delaware, which reached the 11-win mark for just the eighth time in school history, becomes just the second No. 4 seed to capture the CAA Tournament, joining Villanova, which captured the 2009, and the first two win consecutive league titles since Towson won three straight in 2004-06.
The Hens, who were making their fifth CAAâ€ˆtitle game appearance, have now won all three of their CAAâ€ˆtitles on the road after winning the championship at Towson in both 2007 and 2010. Delaware is now 8-4 in CAA tournament play, including a 6-1 mark as the lower seed.
The Blue Hens, who have started slowly in game for most of the season, jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead on this night as Mills scored two goals just over a minute apart midway through the first stanza.
But the Minutemen answered with goals fromâ€ˆManny and Kell to open the second quarter and tie the score. Nick Diachenko answered for the Hens as Delaware regained the lead, but UMass' Mike Fetterly scored with just 1:27 left in the half to knot the score at 3-3 at the break.
Massachusetts took its first lead of the night when Ryan Hantverk scored just 1:11 into the stanza, but the Blue Hens exploded with three straight goals to regain the lead as Kaminski scored his first goal of the game and UDâ€ˆfreshmen Connor McRoy and Brenden Gilson each tallied a goal.
Kell and Manny struck again for UMass early in the final stanza as the pair scored just under three minutes apart to knot the game at 6-6. But Kaminski took over from there, bouncing a shot past Massachusetts goalkeeper Tim McCormack with 8:36 left to put the Hens up for good and rifling another shot past the UMass netminder just three minutes later for an 8-6 advantage. Finegan added some insurance with his only goal at the 3:32 mark for a 9-6 lead.
The Minutemen responded with a man-up goal by Kyleâ€ˆSmith with 2:55 remaining, but the Delaware defense buckled down and held UMass scoreless the rest of the way to claim the victory.
"Kevin is such a great athlete and he really came through tonight," said Shillinglaw of his star midfielder. "He put the ball in the cage and we are hoping he can give us even more."
Scoring Summary (Goals-Assists):
Delaware - Kevin Kaminski, 3-0; John Mills, 2-0; Sean Finegan, 1-1; Nick
Diachenko, 1-0; Connor McRoy, 1-0; Brenden Gilson, 1-0; Grant Kaleikau,
0-2; Eric Smith, 0-1.
Massachusetts - Art Kell, 2-2; Willâ€ˆManny, 2-1; Ryan Hantverk, 1-0; Kyle
Smith, 1-0; Mike Fetterly, 1-0; K.R. Jurgelevich, 0-1.
Shots:â€ˆD - 31, M - 26;
Saves:â€ˆD - 9 (Noah Fossner), M - 8 (Tim
McCormack); Groundballs:â€ˆD - 35, M - 22; Faceoffs:â€ˆD - 13, M - 6;
Clears:â€ˆD - 15 of 22, M - 18 of 20; Turnovers: D - 18, Mâ€ˆ- 13;
Penalties: D - 1 for 1:00, M - None; Extra Man Goals: D - 0 for 0, M - 1
for 1; Attendance:â€ˆ1,652.
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