Men’s Lacrosse falls in CAA playoffs
They wanted an extra week.
Head Lacrosse Coach Ben DeLuca was in his first year at Delaware. The preseason poll placed them last. Few people believed they could win a conference game this season.
The Blue Hens finished their regular season with not one, but three wins — more than they had the last three seasons combined. For the first time since 2014, Delaware Men’s Lacrosse advanced to the CAA playoffs with a do or die 17-8 win over Drexel University on April 27.
They got their extra week.
“We weren’t ready to stop playing with each other,” senior captain Will Hirschmann said.
Facing Towson University in the CAA semifinals on May 3, Delaware fought their way back from a four-goal deficit in the fourth quarter to force the game into overtime, but lost to the reigning conference champion Towson Tigers, 9-8. Though their season came to an end Thursday night in Amherst, Massachusetts, the site of the CAA tournament, the Blue Hens did not go down without a fight.
Three players, senior midfielder Dean DiSimone, sophomore attacker Charlie Kitchen and junior defenseman Austin Haynes earned their way to All-CAA First Team awards. Hirschmann and sophomore goalie Matt DeLuca were named to the Second Team. Delaware has not had a student-athlete named to the First Team since 2015 — it was the first time since 2008 the Blue Hens had three or more honorees.
“Pretty cool for us … think it shows the kind of talent on the team,” Hirschmann said of the five awards.
DiSimone had a career high of 23 goals and 11 assists in the regular season. He added both a goal — Delaware’s first of Thursday’s game — and an assist on the goal to force overtime. Working with Hirschmann and sophomore Bryce Reid, DiSimone was a crucial piece to Delaware’s offense all season long. The explosive starting midfield unit combined for 68 goals, putting them in the national top 10.
Hirschmann led the Hens offensively against Towson, racking up two goals and two assists. His first goal gave Delaware their first lead of the game in the first quarter — his first assist was on the go-ahead in the second. In the fourth quarter, Hirschmann assisted on the goal to complete junior attacker Joe Eisele’s fourth hat trick of the season, then tied the game to force overtime less than 90 seconds later.
Offensively Kitchen stretched his scoring streak to 17 consecutive games, netting two more goals in the semifinal. He totalled 37 for the season — the most the Blue Hens had seen since Curtis Dickinson in 2009. His impressive numbers put him in the CAA lead for both goals and points, 16th in the nation in goals per game and in the top 30 for points per game. Three of his five hat tricks of the season were scored in conference play; four of them included four or more goals.
On defense, Delaware leaned on Haynes and DeLuca in goal. Haynes continued to show All-Team level play, winning two face-offs, causing four turnovers and fielding six ground balls. He continuously took on opponents’ best players and ranked eleventh in the nation in caused turnovers.
In goal, DeLuca made 14 saves, adding another double-digit save to a league lead. He ranks tenth in the nation in saves per game. DeLuca noted that his save per game average was a little high, but gives his defense credit for allowing him to see easy shots. He said he had no problem seeing a lot of shots if it meant helping the team win.
While seniors Hirschmann and DiSimone made their mark on this year’s season, DeLuca said he is excited to “carry [the momentum] to next year.”
Coach DeLuca echoed that, telling BlueHens.com, “I’m excited for the future of Delaware lacrosse.”