The CAA 3rd-seeded Delaware Blue Hens got revenge on the 2nd-seeded Drexel Dragons, 11-7, in the semifinals of the CAA playoffs. Adam Zuder-Havens led the way for the Blue Hens as he scored four goals and an assist. Alex Smith wasn't as successful as he's been this year facing off (13 of 21), but he came up big with a goal and an assist to answer two late Drexel comeback attempts. Both goalies played well as Delaware junior Tommy Scherr had the slight edge on Drexel junior Bruce Bickford (12 vs. 10 saves).
Nearly a month before, these two teams had met in a similar game on the same field. The result on April 7th was an 11-7 Drexel win. The Dragons were outshot by 12, out-groundballed by 13, lost the face-off battle (13 to 8), had more turnovers (22 vs. 20), had 7:30 in penalties to Delaware’s 5:30, but the big differences were goalie Bruce Bickford’s 13 saves compared to Delaware’s Scherr and his 4 saves, and the final score in their favor. A month later, Drexel flipped the stats and outshot Delaware by 13, had slightly more success on man-up than UD, cleared the same amount as the Blue Hens (11 of 13), won one more face-off than the last game (13 to 9). Bruce Bickford contributed 10 solid saves in the playoff match-up. The deciding factor in both games turned out to be University of Delaware goalie Tommy Scherr, as he chipped in with 13 saves in the semifinal battle. While the Drexel offense struggled to get quality opportunities against the Delaware defense, when they finally did, Scherr stepped up and turned away 13 opportunities.
Midfielder Dan Deckelbaum led the way for Delaware a month ago with two goals. This time around, Drexel tried to shut him off for a good part of the game and was able to limit him to just one goal on a play where he was able to get himself free. However, senior Adam Zuder-Havens stepped up and notched four goals and an assist, starting with the first two goals of the game.
Senior Alex Smith didn’t have as much success as he’s had facing off (a ridiculous .755% win percentage for the season heading into the game), but that didn’t mean he would take a backseat role. While Drexel did a nice job of sending any of four different players out to tie Smith up, he was biding his time. Drexel’s leading scoring Andrew Chapman finally managed to capitalize on one of his 16 shots giving the Dragons life with 7:58 left in the game. Smith calmly won the next face-off to himself, pushed it into a fast-break and ripped his sixth goal of the season :14 after Chapman’s tally. Shortly after that, Drexel added their 6th goal of the game bringing the game to 8-6 with 6:10 left. Smith answered by winning the face-off to himself, pushing transition and finding Zuder-Havens open on the far pipe. 10 seconds went by and Smith had again managed to take the momentum away and stretch the Delaware lead.
One theme of both of the games has been the presence of penalty flags. In the first match-up, Delaware drew 7 flags for a total of 5:30, while Drexel had 10 penalties for 7:30. This time around Delaware had 8 penalties for 5:30 while Drexel went down to 9 penalties for 6:30. Unfortunately neither team could capitalize on the opportunities with any sort of consistency. Delaware only managed to score only once, while Drexel got two of theirs on man-up chances.
The loss puts a bitter end to a very successful season for Drexel who surprised many people this season. In 2006, Drexel was 5-9 with five one-goal losses. In 2007, Drexel started winning those normally close games and finished with an 11-5 record, with a win heard round the lacrosse world over Virginia. Get ready to hear more of them in the future as their top 4 scorers return next year (15 of top 17 return), along with their goalie and a coaching staff that has turned this program into a contender.
Delaware’s win means this will be the third season in a row that they’ve made it to the CAA Championship game. They will take on Towson on Saturday as their seniors look to get their first CAA Championship and a 2nd trip to the NCAA tournament. They seem to be peaking at the right time. While they did still have a couple of unforced turnovers, their ball movement on offense was vastly improved from earlier in the season and looked like it could rival any team in the country. Their defense stepped up and frustrated the Drexel attack. It’s always good to know your goalie is playing well when the games are one-and-done.
From press release…
Philadelphia – Drexel held Delaware scoreless over the final 21 minutes of the game and defeated the 14th-ranked Blue Hens, 11-7, at Vidas Field. Four players had at least two goals for the Dragons, who won for the fourth straight time and improved to 8-3 overall (2-0 CAA). The Blue Hens fell to 6-4 overall (1-1 CAA).
With the score tied at seven apiece, Andrew Chapman scored the go-ahead goal with 4:33 remaining in the third period. In the final seconds of the quarter, Chapman set up freshman Greg Casey for his fourth goal of the year. That put Drexel up 9-7 at the end of three. Early in the fourth quarter, Casey set up Jon Van Houten for his second goal of the game. Mike Filippone’s unassisted score with 8:19 to play gave Drexel all the insurance it would need. Drexel goalkeeper Bruce Bickford had five of his 13 saves in the fourth quarter, including a pair of point blank saves on man-down situations. The Dragons were called for five penalties in the fourth period, but Bickford and the man-down unit came up big and preserved the win.
Drexel led 6-4 at the half, but the Blue Hens erased that lead early in the third quarter. Kevin Kaminski scored just over a minute into the period, and then, at the 8:45 mark, Nick LoManto scored a man-up goal to tie the game at six. Two minutes later, Drexel’s Jon Van Houten scored an unassisted goal to give the Dragons a brief lead. That lasted all of 25 seconds as Delaware’s Curtis Dickson set up Chris Hichborn to knot the game at 7-7.
The Dragons started the game strong and had a four-goal lead at 5-1 with ten minutes to play in the first half before the Blue Hens started chipping away. Adam Zuder-Havens and Dan Deckelbaum each scored a goal to cut the lead to 5-3. The teams swapped goals before heading to the half with the Dragons ahead, 6-4.
Chapman, the Dragons leading scorer, finished with three goals and an assist. Van Houten, Colin Ambler and Filippone each scored twice. The game featured the two top face-off teams in the nation. Delaware’s Alex Smith, who entered the game first in the county in face-off percentage at 80 percent, won 13 of 21 face offs. Drexel freshman Zak Fisher won six face-offs against Smith and Filippone won a pair. Fisher entered the game third in the nation in face-off percentage at .693. In the game, Smith set the NCAA record for most career face-offs attempted (1,273).
Delaware’s offense was led by Deckelbaum, who scored twice. Zuder-Havens, Chris Hichborn and Jordan Hall each contributed a goal and an assist. The Blue Hens outshot Drexel. 42-30 and had 37 ground balls to 24 for the Dragons.
The victory gave Drexel two wins against top-20 opponents this year. Drexel opened the 2007 season with an 11-10 upset at top-ranked Virginia. It is still the Cavaliers only loss of the season. Drexel hosts Villanova in a Colonial Athletic Association game on Wednesday night at Vidas Field beginning at 7 p.m.
Delaware: Dan Deckelbaum 2-0, Adam Zuder-Havens 1-1, Jordan Hall 1-1, Chris Hichborn 1-1, Kevin Kaminski 1-0, Nick LoManto 1-0, Curtis Dickson 0-1. Saves: Tommy Scherr 4 (59:19), Warren Mayberry 0 (0 GA, 0:41).
Drexel: Andrew Chapman 3-1, Jon Van Houten 2-2, Colin Amber 2-1, Mike Filippone 2-0, Greg Casey 1-1, Ron Garling 1-0. Saves: Bruce Bickford 13.
Shots: UD 42, DU 30
Groundballs: UD 37, DU 24
Face-offs: UD 13, DU 8
Extra-man scoring: UD 2-8, DU 1-5
Penalties: UD 7-5:30, DU 10-7:30
|Greg Casey||(2, 0)|
|Andrew Chapman||(1, 1)|
|Bryan Brodzik||(1, 0)|
|Jon Van Houten||(0, 1)|
|Ron Garling||(0, 1)|
|Mike Filippone||(0, 1)|
|Joe Variano||(1, 0)|
|Dan Layfield||(1, 0)|
|Kevin Dart||(1, 0)|
|Bruce Bickford||10 (0.476)|