Delaware lacrosse ready for fresh start
Published: Wednesday, February 6, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, February 6, 2013 19:02
Last season, injuries hampered the Delaware men’s lacrosse team’s season, leaving them with a 6-9 record (1-5 in CAA play).
Head coach Bob Shillinglaw said this season has started off in a similar way. The Hens still have a few injuries now but will improve with some players coming back from the injured list.
“Going into this season, it’s been a roller-coaster ride, with some guys who had hip surgery coming back so they got limited practice time,” Shillinglaw said. “Other guys were expected on now have had surgery, so I think our roster will be stronger as the season continues.”
The Hens were picked to be No. 5 in the CAA preseason poll with the arrival of some new players including freshmen attackers Andrew Dines, Connor Frisina and Ian Robertson.
Shillinglaw said the new guys are fitting in well, with practices being spirited battles between the freshman and the returning players.
“It’s been real competitive in practice,” Shillinglaw said. “It’s not unusual to see the younger guys taking it to the older guys in a full-field scrimmage.”
Of the 15 returning players, redshirt sophomore attacker Brian Kormondy, junior midfielder Garrett Johnson and senior attacker Sean Finegan help to add experience on the offense.
Finegan, along with senior attacker Eric Smith and senior midfielder Dom Sebastiani, are the team’s captains. Finegan said the captains are working to make sure that every player understands what the team is striving to do.
“As far as Dom and Eric and my own role goes, we just make sure everyone is following the same guidelines, taking accountability for their actions and buying into the overall philosophy that coach Shillinglaw has given to us,” Finegan said.
One player not returning for this season is attacker Grant Kaleikau, who scored 23 goals in his senior season. Junior midfielder Danny Keane, who played on attack last season was second in scoring with 18 goals.
Keane said while he thinks he can rack up the points as well as Kaleikau, there are more players who are playmakers on this season’s team that can replace Kaleikau’s role.
“Grant was a great player,” Keane said. “I’m not going to say I’m going to step into his shoes, because I fulfill a part of the team maybe he didn’t, maybe in a scoring points aspect, maybe yes, but there are great players around me that will be great whether it’s winning faceoffs or making defensive plays.”
The Hens play two home games against Bucknell on Feb. 9 and Loyola, ranked No. 1 in the USILA preseason poll, on Feb. 16. In conference play, Delaware will play Penn State on Apr. 20 at home and at Massachusetts on Apr. 26. Both teams were ranked in the top 20 in the USILA preseason poll.
Shillinglaw said all Division I men’s lacrosse teams that Delaware faces are even stronger due to increased support.
“We open up this weekend with a new program, High Point, but it’s fully funded, fully staffed, beautiful campus,” he said. “They made a commitment three years ago, they hired a coach two years ago, he’s been recruiting the past two years, so it may sound like ‘they’re opening up with a softy,’ but no.”
However, despite their toughness, Sunday’s game at High Point University saw the Hens pull off a 12-10 victory. Smith had two goals, as did Kormondy, senior midfielder Nick Diachenko and junior midfielder Connor McRoy. Finegan, Keane, Frisina and sophomore midfielder Tom Holland each had one.
Delaware outshot the opponents, 46 to 31, and won 14 of the 26 face-offs. Though Shillinglaw was pleased with the victory, he said parts of the Hens’ defensive game needed a tweak.
“We try to keep the turnovers under 15,” Shillinglaw said. “We had 13 turnovers, so that’s good, but our communication on defensive plays is something we need to work on.”