Orange County Winter Invitational participants, the Delaware Blue Hens, open the 2016 season today against Bucknell. The game is one of three the Blue Hens will play before meeting Michigan at Orange Coast College on February 27. Tickets for the OCWI are still available at http://ocd1lacrosse.com/tickets/.
The Blue Hens, looking to rebound from a 5-10 mark a year ago, will take on Bucknell at 2:30 p.m. at Christy Mathewson-Memorial Stadium. The Bison, who earned votes in the preseason USILA Top 20 poll, are coming off a 9-6 mark a year ago when the Bison advanced to the Patriot League semifinals for the second time in three seasons.
If history means anything, this game will be a nail-biter. Since the series resumed in 2012, each of the four games have been decided by two goals or less, including an 11-10 Delaware overtime win at Bucknell in 2012, a 9-8 Bucknell win at Delaware Stadium in 2013, a 6-4 Bucknell victory in Lewisburg, Pa. in 2014, and a 12-11 Blue Hen triumph last season in Newark.
“Our coaching staff is excited for the season to begin,” said Delaware head coach Bob Shillinglaw, the dean of NCAA Division I head coaches who begins his 38th season at the helm of the Blue Hens and his 41st overall as a college head coach. “This has been an excellent preseason in terms of all of the players demonstrating a blue collar work ethic, exceptional team chemistry both on and off the field, and outstanding upperclassman leadership. Our three captains, Elijah Conte, Steve DeLargy, and Jackson Finigan have done an exceptional job with getting the team focused and on target each day.”
Finigan, a preseason All-Colonial Athletic Association selection, started all 15 games for the Blue Hens at midfield last season and contributed 15 goals, 11 assists, a team-high 44 groundballs, and six caused turnovers. He is the team’s returning leader in goals, assists, points, and groundballs. Sophomore defender Connor Lalley, who also earned preseason All-CAA honor, returns to lead the defense while senior Conor Peaks has been a starter in goal all three of his seasons with the Blue Hens.
“From the offensive perspective at attack, Paul Major has had a great fall and preseason,” said Shillinglaw, who needs just two victories to reach the 300 mark at Delaware. “He has come back stronger and more confident and has been leading the attack. At midfield Jackson Finigan is our leading returner and is an exceptional athlete who can run transition, play defense, wings on faceoffs and play on special units. Similar to the attack unit, several players will be rotated in and different combinations will be used in the beginning of the season. Our staff is excited to see how this group develops as the season progresses.
“The defense has returned Connor Lalley, John O’Connor, and Elijah Conte with all three providing exceptional leadership,” continued Shillinglaw. “Carson Scott ended last year on a strong note and has returned showing the coaches he can play both close and longstick defense effectively. The goalie position has been a battle between senior Conor Peaks and Syracuse transfer Parker Ferrigan. Both are solid experienced goalies with Parker showing excellent leadership and the ability to create transition after a save.
The Blue Hens, who will host Mt. St. Mary’s for its home opener Feb. 13 at Delaware Stadium, is looking for its first winning season since 2011 when the Hens captured the CAA Tournament title and advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the fifth time in school history.
From Press Release: www.bluehens.com