- The Washington Times - Monday, May 21, 2007

ANNAPOLIS - One of the rewards Delaware’s Bob Shillinglaw received for his team’s dominant performance yesterday against Maryland-Baltimore County was a shower of sparkling blue sports drink.

A more important one was his first trip to the final four in his 29 years as the coach of the Blue Hens.

Dan Deckelbaum and Jordan Hall both scored three goals as Delaware exploited several physical advantages to earn a 10-6 victory in the NCAA quarterfinals at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.

Unseeded Delaware (13-5), making its fourth NCAA appearance, will make its final four debut Saturday at Baltimore’s M&T; Bank Stadium against No. 3 Johns Hopkins (11-4).

“It’s a big honor for us,” Hall said. “It’s something great to give to Shillinglaw. There were a couple of great teams before us, but with the way we’re practicing right now and the way we’re playing right now, it’s almost incredible.”

The Blue Hens have controlled games throughout this month, from a two-game charge through the CAA tournament just to make the postseason and then a 14-8 throttling of Virginia in the first round. But initially, the Retrievers (11-6) had the better of play while building a 3-1 lead.

UMBC, though, gradually let things slip away. The bigger, stronger Blue Hens tied it by the half and took the lead for good when Deckelbaum’s dart with 5:41 left in the third quarter made it 5-4.

When the Retrievers closed within 7-5, the Blue Hens responded six seconds later with the help of Alex Smith. The senior faceoff maestro won the ensuing draw and fed Curtis Dickson, who buried the kind of close-in shot Delaware peppered goalie Jeremy Blevins with throughout the second half.

“I just think they wore us down,” UMBC coach Don Zimmerman said. “I don’t know if it was so much physically, though certainly we don’t play a lot of guys. It was a combination of the physical and also the tempo they forced on us.”

The Retrievers struggled to work their usually potent offense, scoring three goals in the final 38:52. With that defensive effort, it was only a matter of protecting a growing lead before Delaware moved on to Memorial Day weekend for the first time.

“Every coach out there works their tail off do everything to dot the I’s and cross the T’s, but deep down inside I always felt we could get it done,” Shillinglaw said. “To get it done is fantastic for the program, and hopefully it will be an additional steppingstone.”

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