Hens lose final two games, miss conference tourney
Published: Monday, May 6, 2013
Updated: Monday, May 6, 2013 21:05
After losing four of its first five games, the Delaware men’s lacrosse team still had an opportunity to extend its season into the CAA Tournament with victories over Penn State and UMass in its final two contests. The Hens carried a three-game winning streak into their home matchup with the Nittany Lions, but a third-quarter collapse ended Delaware’s chances of playing into the postseason.
This season, seven of Delaware’s 10 losses came by three goals or less. Head coach Bob Shillinglaw said after losing several close games early on, it was difficult for his young squad to regroup for the final stretch of its 2013 campaign.
“I’ve gotten comments from opposing coaches before and after games saying, ‘We’re lucky we got out of here,’ or ‘You guys have an excellent team,’” Shillinglaw said. “There were a lot of opposing coaches who felt like our record wasn’t indicative of the quality of the team.”
Delaware opened its season with a victory over High Point University but lost its next four games by a combined 10 goals. The streak was highlighted by a 9-8 loss to defending national champion Loyola University, a game that was decided in the final seconds.
The Hens rebounded to earn a come-from-behind victory over Lafayette University but lost their next four games to fall to 2-8 on the season. Senior midfielder Nick Diachenko said the vast range of injuries suffered by several members of the team played a role in Delaware’s inability to win with consistency.
“One of the best guys I’ve played with, Dom Sebastiani, had an unfortunate injury during the beginning part of the season,” Diachenko said. “When you have a guy that good, it definitely effects the team. Eric [Smith] with his injury last year and my hip injury last year, it all carries through. We’re old guys now, we’re not young.”
Delaware went on to defeat Marist University, the University of Michigan and Saint Joseph’s in consecutive games. After playing Penn State, the Hens gave up eight goals in the second quarter to UMass to drop their final matchup of the season, 16-8.
Although Shillinglaw said he wished his team was able to win some of the close games it played throughout the season, he is still proud his senior class and the two NCAA Tournament berths and CAA conference championship the players helped earn earlier in their careers.
“They focused, never complained,” Shillinglaw said. “They were good leaders. It was extremely disappointing for them because they put so much effort into the program."
Looking ahead to 2014, Delaware will bring back the vast majority of its talent. All-conference defender James Connolly will play with sophomore Brandon Worrall, sophomore Trip Ashley and sophomore goalie Chris Herbert to lead the Hens defense next season. Redshirt junior midfielder Brian Kormondy, who Shillinglaw said is one of the most athletic players he has ever coached, will come back for his fifth year of eligibility.
Senior attackman Eric Smith will not be there to see how the Hens progress in 2014. However, he said he expects better results than he experienced during his final season with the program.
“They have all the potential in the world to be successful,” Smith said. “It’s just how hard they want to work to be great.”