February 21, 2012

Delaware's Upset Bid Falls Short at No. 3 Hopkins

from staff reports | Related: Many Firsts in Blue Jays' Second Win

BALTIMORE -- The University of Delaware could not overcome 22 turnovers and a nearly 30-minute scoring drought Tuesday night at  Homewood Field as the Blue Hens' spirited comeback fell just short in an  8-6 setback to No. 3 Johns Hopkins in men's lacrosse action.

The No. 16-ranked Blue Hens (2-2), who were shooting for their second victory over a Top 20 opponent this season, have still never defeated the perennial national power Blue Jays in nine all-time meetings, but Tuesday’s matchup was by far the closest its ever been.

Delaware’s DannyKeane scored his fifth extra-man goal of the season with 6:27 left to play and Tom Holland followed with a solo tally just 44 seconds later to narrow the gap to a single goal at 7-6, but the Hens could never get closer as their upset bid disappeared in the final minutes.

All-American candidate Grant Kaleikau led the Hens once again with a goal and three assists and redshirt freshman goalkeeper Chris Herbert was stellar in goal with 12 stops, but Delaware could not overcome the turnovers and nine failed clears in losing their second straight game.

Johns Hopkins (2-0), which opened its season with a 12-6 win over Towson last Friday, got three goals from Brandon Benn and Wells Stanwick scored a goal and dished out two assists. Stanwick, a freshman, started in place of injured sixth-year senior Chris Boland (shoulder).

Hopkins didn’t seal the win until an empty net goal by John Ranagan with 31 seconds left.

“I’m proud of the way we competed tonight,” said Delaware head coach Bob Shillinglaw, whose squad has captured the Colonial Athletic Association title and advanced to the NCAA Tournament each of the last two seasons. “We play a high tempo game and sometimes things got away from us. We just need to clean up some parts of our game. You just can’t give a quality team like Johns Hopkins additional opportunities and expect to win. Our focus was there and we kept battling. It certainly wasn’t an effort thing because our kids played their hearts out.”

The Hens were playing their second game in four days - both in Baltimore - after suffering their first loss of the season in a 13-8 setback to Loyola on Saturday.

Hopkins built on a 4-2 halftime lead by scoring the first three goals of the second half on tallies by Greg Edmonds, Benn, and Lee Coppersmith to go up 7-2 with 3:04 left in the third stanza.

But Delaware came to life, ending a string of nearly 30 minutes without a goal when Kaleikau scored off a feed from Dom Sebastiani with 2:40 left and Mark Yetter scored off a feed from Kaleikau just seven seconds later to narrow the gap to 7-4.

The Hens inched closer midway through the final quarter as Keane scored on a behind-the-back shot off a Kaleikau feed with 6:27 remaining just before a Hopkins penalty was ending. Holland then ripped a shot past Hopkins goalkeeper Pierce Bassett with 5:43 left to cut the Blue Jay
lead to 7-6.

Delaware had two chances to tie the game but shots by Brian Kormandy with 3:36 left and by Sebastiani at the 2:25 mark were stopped by Bassett (six saves). The Hens' hopes were dashed even further when they were called for two one-minute slashing penalties in the final 1:23  while trying to gain possession.

“I was happy with the way we battled, but you always want to win,” said Kaleikau, who upped his team-leading scoring total to seven goals and 12 assists this season. “We were right there. We battled back but we fell just short.”

The outcome was far different than the previous eight matchups with the Blue Jays, who had defeated the Hens 18-5 last season at Delaware Stadium. None of the previous eight games had ever been decided by less than five goals, including an 8-3 setback to Hopkins in the 2007 NCAA
national semifinals.

Delaware fell behind 4-2 in a hard-fought first half that saw the Blue Hens miss out on several opportunities. Delaware had 11 shots for the half but turned the ball over 12 times, several times in the transition game, and converted just 6 of 11 clear attempts.

Hopkins jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first eight minutes of play on goals by Benn and Stanwick but the Hens battled back and knotted the score at 2-2 when Delaware’s Sean Finegan scored off a Kaleikau feed with 4:29 left in the first quarter and Connor McRoy followed with another score off a Yetter assist at the 2:12.

But Hopkins shut down the Hens in the second quarter to take the two-goal lead the break. Benn scored his second goal of the game at the 9:34 mark, taking advantage off an illegal stick penalty against McRoy, and Rob Guida tallied an unassisted goal with 2:38 left before halftime.  The Blue Jays held a 19-11 shot advantage at halftime.

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