Despite a loss to Drexel, the Hens advance to face William & Mary.
BY MANAGING SPORTS EDITOR
AND , SPORTS EDITOR
PHILADELPHIA—Guillermo Delgado cavalierly jogged up to the ball, stared down Drexel goalkeeper Tyler Afflerbach and prepared to take his penalty kick in Thursday’s CAA men’s soccer semifinal at Vidas Field.
A goal and the Hens advanced to play William & Mary for the CAA championship. A save and the Delaware’s triumphant comeback was in jeopardy of being squandered.
As the Drexel faithful burst into a frenzy, Delgado buried his face in his jersey and slowly made his way back toward his teammates at midfield. Four rounds of penalty kicks later, Hens senior midfielder Drew Colletti was denied by Afflerbach, sending Delaware home with a 2-2 loss that was decided in penalty kicks, eliminating the team from the conference tournament.
The Hens gave up two first-half goals to Dragons forward Joaquin del Rosario before mounting an improbable comeback. After failing to generate offense for the majority of the second-half, Delaware got itself back into the game with a header from junior forward Roberto Giménez in the 65th minute.
With under five minutes to play, Delgado put home the equalizer on a corner kick that got loose in front of the Dragons’ goal.
Despite the loss, the Hens, who have won 14 games this season, were given an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament, the team’s second tournament appearance in three years. Delaware, ranked No. 27, will face St. John’s Thursday at 7 p.m. at Delaware Mini-Stadium.
The Red Storm are ranked No. 33 in the country, with a 10-6-2 overall record. In the Big East conference, the team went 3-4-2. St. John’s top goalscorer is midfielder/forward Sean Sepe, with six goals.
As for the Hens’ offense, Delgado leads the team with 14 goals and five assists. He said he would have to step his game up in order to be able to score on Thursday.
“I think I’ll have to put all my effort because this tournament is really hard,” Delgado said. “I will have also to work with my teammates so we can altogether go to the top of the scoreboard.”
For the seven seniors on Delaware’s team, this tournament is their last chance to represent their school on the pitch. One of them, defender Tobias Müller has started 13 games this year, with one goal and one assist, as well as eight shots to show for his efforts.
Müller said he was very happy with the result and was glad to be playing a team that the Hens had played recently.
“I’m speechless, it’s incredible,” Müller said. “We came here two years ago and I was injured. This year’s a little different. We are hosting the first round, which is incredible, I think it’s the first time in school history that Delaware soccer is hosting an NCAA round, and against a team that we played in the spring already. We tied them 0-0, so everyone’s excited, beyond excited and ready for Thursday, and we’re going to try to make the season as long as we can.”
As for Hennessy, he was his usual jubilant self. He said the team cannot wait to play another game.
“It’s the easy part now as a coach because they’re chomping at the bit to get out and play, so we’ll actually try to keep the practices not as intensive maybe as they normally would be because people are now so anxious to play,” Hennessy said.
A version of this post appeared in the print edition of The Review on Nov. 19, Year headlined “Soccer makes NCAA tourney.”