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2019 Men’s College Lacrosse Year In Review: #28 Delaware Blue Hens

The Blue Hens continued to rise under Ben DeLuca in the CAA.

Delaware Athletics

With the 2019 college lacrosse season complete, it’s time to look back at how all 73 teams did during the season, along with an early look at each squad for 2020.

Note: These are not end of season rankings.

Here’s our last five Year In Review posts we’ve done:

To see all of our posts, check out the 2019 Year In Review section on the site.

Let’s continue our 2019 Year In Review!

#28 Delaware Blue Hens

Conference: CAA
2019 Record: 10-5 (3-2 in CAA)
Postseason: Lost to Towson in CAA semifinals
Head coach: Ben DeLuca (2nd Season)

Statistical Leaders

Goals: Charlie Kitchen (37)
Assists: Charlie Kitchen (27)
Points: Charlie Kitchen (64)
Faceoffs: Joe Lenskold (103-of-252; 40.9%)
Ground balls: Austin Haynes and Joe Lenskold (45)
Caused turnovers: Austin Haynes (24)
Goals against average: Matt DeLuca (9.88 GAA)
Save percentage: Matt DeLuca (58.1%)

Personnel Losses

Key seniors departing: D Austin Haynes (24 CTs, 45 GBs, 10.7% FOs), A Joe Eisele (34 Gs, 6 As, 27 GBs, 7 CTs), M Dean DiSimone (25 Gs, 11 As, 14 GBs, 6 CTs), SSDM Alex Brunner (11 CTs, 23 GBs, 1 G, 1 A), M Jackson Finigan (6 Gs, 5 As, 19 GBs, 2 CTs)
Senior scoring departing: 90 of 270 points (33.3%)
Senior starts lost: 43 of 150 (28.7%)

Season Summary

In Ben DeLuca’s second year as head coach, the Blue Hens took a major step forward as a program with a 10-5 record in 2019. That was the first time since 2011 that Delaware finished above .500, which was also the last time the Blue Hens went to the NCAA Tournament. They also recorded five road wins, the most since 2010.

Delaware began the season with four straight wins against Mount St. Mary’s, NJIT, Monmouth, and Saint Joseph’s. Their first big test of the regular season game against 10th ranked Villanova with the Blue Hens leading 6-5 with 6:08 left in the second quarter. But the Wildcats recorded 12 of the next 15 goals in the game to win the game by eight and hand Delaware their first loss of the season.

At that point last season, the Blue Hens began a five-game losing streak which included shocking defeats against Mercer and Binghamton. This time around, Delaware avoided such a skid. Yet the Blue Hens were still in a dogfight against Mercer trailing by two in the third quarter. They took a one-goal lead entering the fourth before the Bears tied it at nine, but Charlie Kitchen scored his fifth goal of the game to give the Delaware the one-goal victory. They then defeated Binghamton by four goals.

Another big test appeared in the form of Johns Hopkins at Homewood. Delaware was in it for the entire game and even went on a four-goal run to take a two-goal lead with 8:38 left in the game. But Hopkins went on a four-goal run of their own to close the game and win by a pair of goals. Despite the loss to a Big Ten school, the Blue Hens bounced back the following week against Michigan, another Big Ten institution, to end nonconference play.

The start of conference play was what Delaware was hoping for, three straight wins against Fairfield, Drexel, and Hofstra. They already had their spot in the CAA Tournament, but still had to face Towson and UMass, the two favorites to win the conference tournament. Against the Tigers at home, the first half was tight with the Tigers leading by a goal. But their last two goals began what would be a 7-0 run to take a six-goal lead. Delaware made things interesting late, but Towson hung on for the two-goal win. The following week against UMass, the Minutemen scored two goals in the final 2:06 to win by a pair of tallies. The Blue Hens faced off against Towson again in the CAA semifinals but were blown out in an 18-11 season-ending defeat.

The offense had two stellar players in Charlie Kitchen and freshman Tye Kurtz. Kitchen led the Blue Hens with 37 goals and 27 assists for 64 points at attack and was the CAA’s Offensive Player of the Year. The 64 points were the highest by a Blue Hen since Curtis Dickson put up 77 in 2010. Kurtz, who was tabbed as the conference’s Rookie of the Year, bounced between attack and midfield and recorded 52 points, a school record for freshmen points in a season. Along with Joe Eisele, Dean DiSimone, Bryce Reid, Clay Miller, and Jackson Finigan, the Blue Hens scored an average of 11.7 goals per game, the most since 1999.

But there were also plenty of positives on defense, led by senior Austin Haynes and his team-high 24 caused turnovers. Junior Zach Strassner joined him for the season with 12 caused turnovers and 42 ground balls. Kevin McCormick and Owen Grant split time as the third starting defender. Thomas Aloe and Ryan Shaw were the main LSMs with Alex Brunner, Wade Oursler, Jason Seiter, and Finigan playing as short stick defensive midfielders. Joe Lenskold took the majority of the faceoff draws after Jake Hervada went down early in the season, while goalie Matt DeLuca put up a 58.1% save percentage, good for third in the country. He was also Delaware’s first All-American since 2011.

Looking Ahead

Coach DeLuca and company’s “hard hat” mentality will carry over in Year 3 at Delaware, continuing the program’s facelift. That comes while the university is going through a facelift of their own with Delaware Stadium going through a major renovation throughout the team’s 2019 season. Throughout the season, they embraced the fact that they’re practicing in the middle of a construction zone.

The building toward the future will certainly carry over into 2020, as the Blue Hens will look to take home their first CAA title since 2011. Kitchen, who has the nation’s longest active goal scoring streak at 32 games, and Kurtz will pave the way on offense, but will need to fill a spot each at attack and midfield with Eisele and DiSimone graduating. Guys such as Peter St. Geme, Steve Totora, Kyle Kivinski, Jake Govett, and George Ward could be possibilities on offense.

Haynes’ graduation will hurt the defense, but Strassner, Grant, and McCormick should be a solid close defensive unit. Aloe, Shaw, Oursler, and Seiter return on the defensive midfield. DeLuca returns as a senior in cage, while Lenskold and Hervada should be back at the faceoff X.

2020 could be Delaware’s time to shine in the CAA. The team is truly about finding any possible way to get better, improve, and do whatever it takes to win. And a return to the NCAA Tournament would be a perfect ending to many of the team’s rising seniors.

Poll

How many wins will Delaware get in 2020?

This poll is closed

  • 2%
    0-6
    (2 votes)
  • 14%
    7-8
    (11 votes)
  • 35%
    9-10
    (27 votes)
  • 48%
    11+
    (37 votes)
77 votes total Vote Now