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Feedback on a feature and a gamer

Discussion in 'Writers' Workshop' started by marchmadnessallseason, May 9, 2007.

  1. I wrote two stories in the past two weeks regarding Delaware lacrosse. One was a preview-type story on the CAA Tournament, the other was a gamer on the Delaware-Drexel CAA Tournament game.

    Men's Lacrosse rips Drexel, heads to CAA Championship

    Delaware men's lacrosse has struggled all season against ranked opponents, going 0-5 against teams in the top 17 of the United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association polls.

    Fortunately for the Hens, Wednesday night at Drexel (11-5, 5-1 Colonial Athletic Association) was different.

    The Hens snapped the streak at the perfect time, knocking off the No. 15 Dragons, 11-7, in the semifinals of the CAA Tournament. Senior Adam Zuder-Havens led the way with four goals and one assist, while freshman Kevin Kaminski scored twice. Junior Vincent Giordano and senior Alex Smith had one goal and one assist each, while junior goalie Tommy Scherr recorded 12 saves for the Hens.

    Head coach Bob Shillinglaw said it was a relief to finally break through against a quality opponent.

    "It feels great," Shillinglaw said. "Against ranked teams, we had a lot of one-goal games. Today we put it together for all four quarters and played a clean game."

    The win extended Delaware's winning streak to four games and gave the team its third-consecutive berth in the CAA championship game. They will travel to top-seeded Towson Saturday and face the Tigers, who beat Hofstra 11-5 in the conference's other semifinal game.

    Smith was excited about the opportunity to get back to the NCAA Tournament.

    "It's awesome," Smith said. "We're definitely going to win and get to the NCAA Tournament. We're going to make it happen."

    Delaware (10-5, 4-2 CAA) opened the scoring in the first quarter, with two goals from Zuder-Havens in a 45-second span. Drexel head coach Chris Bates said the Hens' quick start was a key to its victory.

    "Delaware came out and played a playoff game," Bates said. "They're experienced, and they came out and did a good job."

    Drexel responded with two goals of its own before senior Jordan Hall scored with 30 seconds left in the first period to give the Hens a 3-2 advantage. Delaware furthered its lead with goals in the second period by Kaminski and Giordano to make it 5-2 heading into halftime.

    The second half began much the same way the first half ended, as the Hens pushed their lead to 7-2 with two more goals from Kaminski and senior Dan Deckelbaum.

    The Hens' defense, which struggled at various points in the season, played a huge role in Wednesday's game, especially in the first three quarters. Smith said the defense was the most impressive part of the game.

    "They were unbelievable," he said. "The whole defense should get the player of the game. They played incredible."

    Drexel made a run in the final period, scoring three straight goals to cut the lead to 7-5, but Smith won the ensuing faceoff and outran everyone to the net, giving the Hens an 8-5 advantage. The goal came only 14 seconds after the Dragons' score. Drexel came back down and scored, narrowing the lead to two. Smith won another faceoff and passed it to Zuder-Havens, who finished the job. This time, the goal came only 10 seconds after Drexel's goal. Bates said he knew the game was all but over at that point.

    "That was the straw that broke the camel's back," he said.

    Smith's two-minute period of heroics helped give the Hens the extra boost they needed to finish off the win.

    "If he didn't have a helmet on, I would have kissed him," Shillinglaw said. "I knew the game wasn't over [when it was 7-2]. Lacrosse is a game of runs, and it was just a big momentum break for us."

    The win also avenges an earlier loss to the Dragons, who beat the Hens 11-7 on April 4.

    "We made adjustments from the first game," Shillinglaw said. "We did a great job defensively."

    Drexel's Andrew Chapman, who ranks sixth in the country in goals, was held to only one goal despite taking 16 shots. The Hens forced the Dragons into bad shots and did not allow their attackmen to get open looks from around the net.

    Added motivation for the Hens may have come from the Dragons leading up to the game. In an article in the Philadelphia Inquirer Wednesday morning, several Drexel players discussed how tough and physical they were, calling their style of lacrosse "West Philly ball." Smith said he and his teammates saw the quote and wanted to send a message.

    "You saw what happened," he said. "We thrashed them. We destroyed those guys. Bodies were flying everywhere. We showed them."

    Men's Lacrosse preps for CAA Tournament

    Opposing teams' coaches hold Delaware men's lacrosse in high regard, considering the Hens as a team with top 10 potential.

    "Nobody in our league is more talented than Delaware," Towson head coach Tony Seaman said. "I think they are the heavy favorite heading into the [Colonial Athletic Association] Tournament."

    Drexel head coach Chris Bates said he admires the Hens' ability.

    Even with all the praise from other head coaches and the high expectations for the Hens entering the season, Delaware (9-5, 4-2 CAA) sits in third place in the conference.

    Junior goalkeeper Tommy Scherr said the team has talent, but it has taken time to come together.

    "I wish it came along quicker," Scherr said. "If we get on the same page, we are a pretty scary group."

    Despite their disappointing season thus far, the Hens have a chance to wipe their slate clean and redeem themselves. May 2 marks the start of the CAA Tournament, in which No. 3 Delaware will travel to play No. 2 Drexel. With two wins, the Hens will get a bid to the NCAA Tournament.

    Fortunately for Delaware, the CAA Tournament is wide open this season. Towson (8-5, 5-1 CAA) is atop the league, but Drexel (11-4, 5-1 CAA) and Delaware are right behind the Tigers. Hofstra and Villanova battled for the final spot, with Hofstra (6-7, 3-3 CAA) filling out the field.

    "It's going to be a dogfight," Bates said. "Everyone has lost, no one is undefeated."

    Delaware head coach Bob Shillinglaw agreed and said the tournament is wide open for anyone to win.

    "It's the most balanced it's ever been since I've been here," said Shillinglaw, who is in his 29th season as head coach. "Whoever brings their A-game and doesn't have injuries will win it."

    However, the Hens have struggled to bring their A-game in most of the big games this season. They are 0-5 against teams ranked in the top 17 of the USILA polls and have lost 20 straight games against teams ranked in the top 10. Shillinglaw attributes their struggles this season to injuries.

    "We have had some players injured this year," he said. "The whole year, we've had two, three, four guys at a time injured. A lot of our guys haven't been able to practice or play. Our top three attackmen weren't playing against Duke."

    If Delaware is going to win two games and get an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament, senior Alex Smith is going to be a major factor. An honorable-mention All-American last year, Smith is the premier faceoff player in the country, leading the nation by a substantial margin with a 74 percent faceoff winning percentage.

    Scherr said Delaware has an advantage none of the other teams in the tournament have.

    "No one else has an Alex Smith," he said.

    Seaman said having a good faceoff specialist provides momentum.

    "One of the things you need [to win] is a dominant faceoff guy to get the ball," he said. "That's what Smith provides for Delaware."

    Another key for Delaware is its ability to finish in key spots. Delaware is ranked No. 5 in the country in scoring offense, averaging approximately 11.7 goals per game, scoring at least 19 goals on four separate occasions. Opposing coaches have noticed.

    "They have two of the best offensive players in the league in [Jordan] Hall and [Dan] Deckelbaum," Seaman said. "Both are proficient offensively. They're a huge threat."

    Although the Hens are loaded offensively, they have not lived up to their potential and expectations this season. Turnovers and mistakes at both ends of the field have been the main culprits.

    "We have tons of talent, but it hasn't shown in some of the games we've lost," Scherr said. "We have to play smart and eliminate mistakes."

    Turnovers have lessened Smith's impact. Many times this season he has won a faceoff only to turn around and see a teammate throw it away to the opponent.

    "It's helpful to get extra possessions," Smith said. "But if we keep turning the ball over, it negates everything I'm doing."

    The Hens realize the regular season is over and the second season is upon them. Many are looking forward to the chance to put the disappointing regular season behind them.

    "Winning solves everything," Smith said.
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