NEWARK, Del. — Delaware head coach Bob Shillinglaw has seen a lot of great wins in his 39 years as head coach of the Blue Hens — and this one has to rank up there with the best of them.
Delaware got nine goals from its starting midfield unit and freshman goalkeeper Matt DeLuca was nearly flawless in the nets as the Blue Hens posted their first-ever victory over a No. 1 ranked team with a 13-9 victory over Rutgers on Saturday at Delaware Stadium.
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The Blue Hens (7-3) got three goals each from starting midfielders Will Hirschmann, Steve DeLargy and Trupert Ortlieb. DeLuca recorded a career-high 19 saves to earn the Milt Roberts Game Most Valuable Player award as Delaware knocked off a No. 1-ranked team for the first time in seven tries in school history.
Rutgers (8-1) was off to its best start since 1955 and entered the game with its first-ever No. 1 ranking in the Maverik media poll. The Scarlet Knights were also ranked No. 3 in this week’s USILA Coaches poll.
“This is a game I think our guys will talking about 10 years from now,” said Shillinglaw, who will retire after this season in his fifth decade as a college head coach. “I am so happy for these guys, they are a great group of kids. This is their special moment and that’s what it should be all about. They are playing with a chip [on their shoulders] and we are getting after it. This is one of those games where you walk into the lockerroom before the game and you can see it in their eyes and you know you don’t have to say anything. They were focused and ready.”
After Rutgers scored the game’s first goal three minutes in, Delaware reeled off seven straight goals, including two each from Andrew Romagnoli and Hirschmann, and took a 7-2 advantage into halftime.
But Rutgers refused to give in and scored four straight of their own in the third quarter and pulled to within 9-8 on a score by Kieran Mullins just 26 seconds into the final stanza.
From there, the Hens put it into another gear as they followed with four straight goals — two by Ortlieb — to take back control and cruise to the win, their sixth in the last seven games.
“I came out and I was seeing the ball well today,” said DeLuca, whose 19 saves were the most by a UD netminder since Tommy Scherr also turned back 19 shots vs. Lehigh in 2008. “It was a beautiful day, 70 degrees in March. All you can do is come and play as hard as you can. When you play the No. 1 team in the country, that can be a once in a lifetime thing. I can’t thank my defense enough. If I can come out and make the first couple of saves — which I was able to do today — it gets me going and I can pick it up from there.”
Romagnoli also dished out three assists for the Hens, freshman Charlie Kitchen added a goal and an assist, and freshman Crosby Matthews won 12 of 19 faceoff tries to pace the Hens.