Delaware vs. Hofstra
March 19, 2011
The Game Story:
Blue Hens Pull Off Upset, Knock Off #4 Hofstra 7-6 in CAA Opener Behind Big Day from Kaleikau

March 19, 2011

Photos Courtesy of Mark Campbell

Athlete photo• Box Score

NEWARK, Del. -- Thanks to a productive day from attackman Grant Kaleikau (at right) and two big defensive plays from midfielder Dom Sebastiani in the final minute, the University of Delaware men's lacrosse squad bounced back in a big way Saturday afternoon as the Blue Hens knocked off No. 4 ranked Hofstra 7-6 at Delaware Stadium.

The defending Colonial Athletic Association champion Blue Hens (5-3, 1-0 CAA) were impressive in their 2011 league opener as Kaleikau had a hand in five of the seven goals with two scores and three assists and the Hens defeated their highest ranked opponent since downing third-ranked Virginia in the 2007 NCAA Tournament.

Hofstra (5-1, 0-1 CAA) suffered its first setback of the season and fell to the Blue Hens for the first time since the 2007 campaign after downing Delaware three straight times. Each of the last six meetings between the two teams and 10 of the last 12 have been decided by three or less goals in this spirited rivalry.

“What a fantastic feeling,” said Delaware head coach Bob Shillinglaw, who picked up his 293rd victory in his 36-year career as head coach. “This was our best played game of the year and it came at a good time against a nationally ranked team from the CAA. I’m happy for the players. We executed our game plan well, played great defense, kept our turnovers down, and Noah (Fossner) was great in goal all day. This was an all-around team win.”

Sophomore midfielder John Mills added two goals while senior midfielder Nick Elsmo registered a goal and an assist and Fossner (bottom left) turned back 13 shots in goal. Sebastiani also scored a goal but it was his defensive effort that shined as he caused two Hofstra turnovers in the final minute to preserve the victory.

Athlete photoDelaware, which opened the season by winning its first three games, bounced back after suffering consecutive setbacks of 11-9 to Albany and most recently 14-9 to No. 6 ranked Stony Brook last Saturday. The Hens also snapped a streak of three straight losses to Top 10 ranked opponents, including a 14-13 setback to No. 4 ranked North Carolina in the 2010 NCAA Tournament. Delaware has posted 14 victories over Top 20 opponents since 2007.

Jay Card scored two goals and dished out an assist for Hofstra while Kevin Ford scored twice, and Mike DeNapoli chipped in with two assists. Goalkeeper Andrew Gvozden lost for the first time this season but posted 12 saves.

“This is the first step to the rest of the season,” said Kaleikau, who upped his team-leading assist total to 10 this season. “Our defense really stepped up today and held the fourth-ranked team in the country to just six goals. It was a great team effort and a great accomplishment.”

Card staked Hofstra to a quick 2-0 lead as he scored twice in the first four minutes of the game before Delaware rallied back with four straight goals to take the lead for good.

Kaleikau put the Hens on the board off a feed from Sean Finegan with 6:26 left in the first quarter and Mills connected on consecutive goals three minutes and 30 seconds apart in the second stanza, both off feeds from Kaleikau. The first came on a man-up opportunity with 9:54 left and the second came with 6:24 remaining to give the Hens a 3-2 lead at the half.

Delaware extended the lead to 5-3 three minutes into the second half as Kaleikau scored just seven seconds into the stanza when Dan Cooney won the faceoff and fed him for his second goal of the game and Elsmo scored with 12:10 remaining off a feed from UD’s leading season scorer Eric Smith.

But the Pride answered quickly to get back in the game. Ian Braddish scored less than a minute after Elsmo’s goal and Stephen Bentz scored a man-up goal off a feed from Card with 8:13 remaining to narrow the gap to 5-4.

Sebastiani, who scored off a feed from Elsmo, and Hofstra’s Ford traded goals over the final 3:33 of the stanza to send the Hens into the final quarter up 6-5.

A goal by Delaware’s Nick Diachenko off another Kaleikau feed with 12:06 left gave the Hens some breathing room at 7-5 and neither team managed to find the back of the net for the next 14 minutes until the 1:56 mark when Ford scored a man-up goal to cut the deficit to 7-6.

Hofstra had its chances to knot the score and send the game into an extra session, but Sebastiani made sure that it didn’t happen. The junior midfielder intercepted a pass by Card with 59 seconds left to give Delaware possession before the Hens were called for a delay 13 seconds later to give the ball back to the Pride.

Sebastiani came up big again with 10 seconds remaining when he stepped in front of a pass by Jamie Lincoln 15 yards in front of the net and Delaware ran out the clock, setting off a huge Delaware celebration on the field.

Delaware, which has now won 10 of 13 home games since making Delaware Stadium its permanent home prior to the 2010 season, will return to action next Saturday when the Blue Hens host rival Towson at 1 p.m.

NOTES....Delaware picked up the win despite getting just a single assist from its two leading scorers on the season Eric Smith and Sean Finegan...Delaware is now 5-5 all-time in CAA openers....Delaware honored members of the 1961, 1970, and 1971 teams that each captured Middle Atlantic Conference titles....the teams were celebrating their 40 and 50-year anniversaries....Kaleikau was presented with the Milt Roberts Day Game Most Valuable Player Award following the game.