Delaware has been crowned as this year’s Cinderella team as the unseeded Blue Hens defeated No.2 Georgetown in a Sunday night thriller. Delaware jumped out to a 3-0 lead midway through the opening quarter, but goals by USA Lacrosse First Team All-American Graham Bundy, and honorable mention All-American Dylan Watson, cut the lead to 4-3 by the end of the first quarter. The Hoyas would come out hot the following two quarters held a comfortable leading 9-7 with 4:39 remaining in the fourth quarter.
The Blue Hens managed to settle down, and Drew Lenkaitis scored off a beautiful swim move to cut the lead to one. Delaware won the faceoff and head coach Ben Deluca called timeout. Moments later, Tye Kurtz scored the tying goal off an assist from Cam Acchione during a broken play. The Blue Hen faithful kept believing.
James Reilly responded for Georgetown by winning a key faceoff, and Kevin Warne called a timeout of his own. The timeout proved to be worthless as Conor Morrin made an uncharacteristic mistake with an unforced turnover with 73 seconds left in regulation.
This game featured a basketball-like ending with timeouts being called between seemingly every possession, and Delaware used their final timeout upon clearing the ball over the midfield line. The Blue Hens bled the clock down to 17 seconds before initiating offense. Lenkaitis drove from X and found JP Ward for the step down game winner from 11 yards out with 8 seconds left on the clock. The Blue Hens completed the comeback.
Delaware’s victory marks the first unseeded team to upset the No.2 seed since 2016 when Towson pulled off the upset over Denver. Two years prior, Bryant defeated Syracuse in the dome in a similar Sunday night contest during the final matchup of the First Round.
2022 marks Delaware’s first appearance in the NCAA tournament since 2011, and it’s their first victory since 2007 when they upset the No.2 seeded Virginia Cavaliers. Delaware advanced to the Final Four that year by defeating UMBC 10-6 in the quarterfinals. They’ll have the same opportunity this weekend against No.7 Cornell in Columbus, Ohio.
This is a veteran team that has been knocking on the door for national recognition. Sunday’s victory was a monumental win for the Delaware lacrosse program, and they’ll look to build off this historic game over future years. With the exclusion of Charlie Kitchen, Delaware returned almost their entire offense along with their defense, goalie, and faceoff man. All of the signs pointed towards an improved 2022 season, but even the most optimistic Blue Hen fans couldn’t have envisioned this postseason success. Delaware finished the regular season as CAA Champions and entered conference play as the No.1 seed. Even though No.4 seeded Drexel hosted the tournament, but the Dragons were no problem for the Hens; Delaware steamrolled Drexel by a final score of 19-6 in the semifinals, and rode that momentum into the championship game defeating Towson 11-6 in Philly.
Delaware has relied on their offense all season, which ranks 16th in offensive efficiency, and their opening round 20-8 victory against Robert Morris was a showcase of their capabilities. Delaware’s offense is primarily driven by X dodgers like Drew Lenkaitis or JP Ward to feed to Mike Robinson or Tye Kurtz for time-and-room shots. Ward (5G, 2A) led all scorers in points against Robert Morris while Mike Robinson (3g, 3A) had a strong showing of his own.
As good as the offense has been, Delaware relied on their defense in the victory over Georgetown. Holding the Hoyas’ 7th ranked offense under ten goals was no small accomplishment, and Matt Kilkeary deserves a ton of recognition with his 14 save performance. The rest of the defense blocked shots, caused turnovers, and wreaked havoc on that side of the field. They did everything you could’ve asked, and it was enough to advance to the quarterfinals. You’ve got to play your very best lacrosse in order to win in May, and Delaware is doing just that.
Delaware’s offense will be put to the test when they face Cornell and First Team All-American defender Gavin Adler on Sunday. Adler has arguably been college lacrosse’s best defenseman despite his 5’8″ 180lb frame and he is a front runner for the Schmeisser Award. Adler will likely cover JP Ward, so Delaware either needs to be more reliant on Lenkaitis dodging, midfield initiators, or both. This team is no stranger to postseason success, and there’s no reason why Delaware can’t extend their run to Championship Weekend. Clear your schedules. Sunday should be a good one.