Taking a look at the Blue Hens during September
Managing Sports Editor
The end of summer has been kind to Delaware sports. The Blue Hens fall sports teams have a combined record of 32-16-3 (0.67) as of Oct. 6. There have been some dramatic moments already: a triple overtime thriller at Rhode Island, taking the 13th ranked team in the country to double overtime, the first win against a ranked team since 2015 and two teams have already surpassed their win totals from all of last year, one of which has doubled last season’s win total. This may be one of the most exciting falls in a while, and we are going to take a look through each team and see how they have shaped up so far.
Best wins: 3OT win vs. Rhode Island, comeback vs. Penn
Losses: North Dakota State, Pitt
The Blue Hens have had a tough schedule to start the year, but have played well heading into conference play. Their best wins were both dramatic comebacks. Against Rhode Island, they were down 13-0 at halftime, but the offense caught fire in the second half, with senior quarterback Pat Kehoe putting in a career high five touchdown passes, tying a Delaware record for most passing touchdowns in a game. This win gave Delaware the program’s 700th win.
Against Penn, Delaware found themselves down 21-7 early in the third quarter. The Blue Hens then caught fire, scoring the next 21 unanswered points and were able to hold on for the win. This has been a second-half team for much of the year, and things are going to have to change if they want to compete for a Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) championship.
The team’s two losses were nothing to be ashamed of, considering the opponents. They faced the premier Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) team in North Dakota State, which Head Coach Danny Rocco said is the “model FCS program.” They lost 47-22, but had a stellar second half showing, especially from redshirt sophomore quarterback Nolan Henderson who was named the starting quarterback after he threw for 125 yards and two touchdowns. Henderson has looked great, throwing for 532 yards and seven touchdowns through five games.
The Blue Hen’s performance against Pitt was spectacular as they nearly came away with a victory. While a loss never sounds good, this is a team that is in the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC), won the ACC Coastal Division last year and played against Clemson in the ACC championship game. They were also coming off a terrific win against No. 15 ranked University of Central Florida (UCF), putting an end to UCF’s 27-game regular season win streak.
The odds were not in the Blue Hen’s favor, especially since the last time they visited Heinz Field to play the Panthers, they ended up being slaughtered 62-0. ESPN gave Delaware a 3.3% chance to win coming into the game. The Blue Hens proved doubters wrong and ended up entering the fourth quarter with a 14-10 lead with a real chance to win the game, but came up just short.
The Blue Hens real season beings next Saturday. After a bye week, Delaware will head to Elon, N.C., to take on the Phoenix. This starts a stretch of seven straight CAA games. Perhaps the most important statistic for the Blue Hens is that they are 1-0 in conference. The game against Elon will give the team a good look at where they stand. Elon is coming off a tough 45-10 loss at home against No. 2 ranked James Madison (JMU). JMU’s only loss was a close 20-13 edging by Football Bowl Subdivision and Big 12 foe West Virginia.
Best Wins: At No. 25 Notheastern, No. 22 Albany, at No. 21 Rutgers, No. 9 Penn State
Losses: at No. 15 Saint Joseph’s, No. 12 Princeton
The Blue Hens’ field hockey team has looked pretty good so far this season. The Hens had a sour taste in their mouths after a heartbreaking 2-3 loss against William and Mary in the CAA championship game last year, ending their streak of 25 straight wins against CAA opponents and robbing them of their sixth straight CAA Tournament title. They also missed the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2012. They are looking for redemption this season.
Their roster took a bit of a hit after losing key seniors that have logged 67 career victories as a graduating class together. They also lost reigning CAA Rookie of the Year, Tessa Verweijen. With reigning CAA Player of the Year Lotte de Koning only playing in four games so far this year, other players have stepped up in her absence. Most notably, junior midfielder Femke Strien leads the team with eight goals and 18 total points, already collecting two CAA Player of the Week awards. Senior goalkeeper Sydney Rhodes has only allowed eight goals and has 26 saves on the year.
Key wins: 2OT against Seton Hall, James Madison, Drexel
The women’s soccer team has had a big turnaround so far from the 2018 season. It has already surpassed, and doubled their win total from last year that saw them go 4-12-2. The team has surpassed their total goals from last season, raising that number from 12 to 16. It is also averaging 1.23 goals per game as opposed to 0.67 last season.
The goals per player are much more spread out than they were a season ago, with seven players with two goals or more. In 2018, they had just two. Senior midfielder Jessica Kennett has led the squad with seven points on two goals and three assists, while senior defender Alexis Montgomery leads the team in goals with three.
The team also took No. 13 Rutgers to double overtime. With five key CAA games remaining, the Blue Hens will have to fight for every last one if they want to qualify for the CAA Tournament.
Key wins: No. 23 West Virginia
The men’s soccer team has been hammered with a brutal schedule that has resulted in being the only Blue Hen’s team with a losing record in 2019 at 2-3-3. However, the team has had two important ties with CAA foe Northeastern and ACC member Pitt. The Blue Hens had an impressive win in the second game of the season against No. 23 West Virginia, shutting the Mountaineers out, earning their first win against a ranked opponent since 2015. They have increased their goals per game to 1.38 from 1.00 in 2018.
Sophomore defender Timo Hummrich has tied his total goals from last season with four, leading the team for the second straight year. Junior forward Rex Twum has been a big addition to the team this season. He is second behind Hummrich with three goals and is the only other Blue Hen with more than one goal. He scored the only goal in the win against No. 23 West Virginia.
The Blue Hens have played seven games this year, and have seven more before the CAA Tournament, so there is no room for error the rest of the way.
The Blue Hens’ volleyball team has also turned the tides from last season’s 9-19 finish, as it has 11 wins to date. The team is one CAA win away from matching last year’s conference win total of three. Head Coach Sara Matthews said after the University of North Carolina Wilmington win that her girls have a different mindset this year as compared to last year and that has helped lead to the big turnaround.
Senior outside hitter Maria Bellinger has been crucial to the team’s success, knocking in a team high 243 kills on the year, good for 33rd in the NCAA. She is also 23rd in the NCAA in kills-per-set with 4.46. The Blue Hens have 12 CAA games remaining on their schedule, meaning these all count if they want to be in a good position for the CAA Tournament later this year.