Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Delaware escapes narrow comeback in windy conference scrap against Stony Brook

SportsMen's LacrosseDelaware escapes narrow comeback in windy conference scrap against Stony Brook

RYAN GIBB
Staff Reporter





In a brisk first home game of April, the Blue Hens sealed a vital 16-12 win over the Stony Brook University Seawolves to build on their three-game winning streak. 

What started off as a showcase of relentlessly dominant end-to-end lacrosse by the Hens evolved into a pressing panic when the Seawolves engineered a seven-goal fourth quarter surge. 

Fans grew apprehensive when Delaware’s 12-1 third quarter lead was quickly gashed in the fourth quarter, with four goals being strung together in the 11th minute by the Seawolves. At that point, it was only 15-9, but the Seawolves seemingly synched up and found harmony when they went on an unanswered, inexplicable seven-goal run to make it 15-12. All of a sudden, there was a game.

One could feel eyes nervously glancing at the clock as a wave of tension engulfed Tubby Raymond Field with 4:29 left. Delaware head coach Ben DeLuca called a wise timeout and recollected his team. 

After a failed Stony Brook man-up opportunity, graduate captain Mike Robinson donned the cape and bulldozed to the crease to secure a previously worthy Blue Hens’ victory. A roar of relief came from the crowd.

The uneasy win puts the Blue Hens at 7-3 just below Towson University (9-3) in the Coastal Athletic Association (CAA). The claim for the conference is slated for Delaware’s final regular season game on April 26 at 7 p.m., when the tenacious Tigers come to Delaware to defend their spot. 

The initial landslide of a disparity between the Hens and the Seawolves was largely due to the fiery youth of this Delaware squad. Four-time CAA Rookie of the Week attackman John McCurry, freshman middie Tyler Owings and sophomore midfielder Brendan Powers flourished, with McCurry and Owings each notching two and Powers tallying four. 

After a series of takeaways and turnovers in the first quarter, Owings cut the silence when he sprinted in from the box, caught a pass from senior attackman JP Ward, and calmly placed a shot past Stony Brook sophomore goalie Tommy Wilk. It was Ward’s 100th-career assist and Owings’ seventh of the season. 

McCurry made it a freshman frenzy when he rifled one into the top shelf, conjuring a rumble from the Delaware faithful and his teammates. Quickly after, senior midfielder Cam Acchione scampered down the left side and bounced one cleverly past Wilk to make it 3-0 Blue Hens. 

But the Seawolves remained calm despite the unpredictable and impregnable offensive tactics of this exciting Delaware squad. That’s when Stony Brook graduate attackman Dylan Pallonetti put one in for his team to close the lead to 3-1. 

Then, Robinson notched one to put himself 11 goals away from breaking former attackman counterpart Tye Kurtz’s all-time points record. Powers joined in on the fun with 2:49 remaining in the first, jolting one through Wilks’ legs to put Delaware up 5-1.

Senior goalie Kevin Ellington displayed a stellar performance in this quarter, showing why he holds the third-best save percentage in the nation and leads the CAA in goals-against average. 

Delaware’s seventh of the game came in Houdini-like fashion when Robinson pirouetted like a corkscrew around a defenseman and flung a shot past an awe-stuck Wilk. 

The Acchione brothers love a man-up opportunity. With one or the other always seeming to deliver on extra-man opportunities, Cam scored his second of the game and 14th of the year to widen the Delaware chasm of a lead to 8-1. His fellow midfielder and twin brother, Matt, is sixth in the country in extra-man goals with five on the year.

Robinson completed the hat trick just before halftime, making it a dominating score of 9-1.

Delaware continued its commanding style of play seconds into the second half. On a fast break, Robinson found McCurry for his second of the game. 10-1 Delaware. With the help of assist-virtuoso Ward, Powers plunged in a pair of quick goals to tally a sudden hat trick. 

The Seawolves quieted the stadium when they strung together a trio of goals to cut the decisive Delaware lead to 13-5. Powers regained the momentum for Delaware, ripping a shot from the right side into the right corner. 14-5 Delaware going into what would be a tumultuous fourth quarter. 

Capitalizing on a string of Delaware penalties, the Seawolves scored a flurry of goals by junior middie CJ Harris, freshman faceoff man Chris Esposito, sophomore middie Jack Dougherty and Pallonetti to cut it to 15-9 Delaware. 

Growing reckless on offense and lackadaisical on defense, Delaware began to take its foot off the gas. Seemingly never in this game, the Seawolves took the chances they were given and rallied to make it a five-goal difference. 

That’s when senior middie Noah Armitage and graduate long-stick middie Christian Lowd delivered a duo of crucial goals to make this game in-reach for Stony Brook. But the Seawolves’ late-game surge was stifled on a failed man-up, and Cam Acchione found Robinson with 35 seconds remaining to secure the win for Delaware.

The Blue Hens travel to Philadelphia this Saturday to face off against conference foe Drexel University (5-7). The following Friday, the Hens play their final game of the regular season against a formidable opponent in Towson University, which stands at No. 14 in Inside Lacrosse’s D1 Top 20.

Stay tuned as Delaware looks to earn its sixth and third-consecutive CAA championship. The CAA tournament will be held at Towson University on May 2 and May 4, with live coverage on WVUD.

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