BY KONNER METZ
Managing Sports activities Editor
Rolf van de Kerkhof has coached greater than a handful of championship groups, however the 2022 model of Delaware subject hockey checked some distinctive bins off.
Nearing the tip of September with a 1-8 report, enjoying within the NCAA Event was doubtless the final thought on the crew’s thoughts. However that’s precisely what they did final week in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
The Blue Hens certified for the NCAA 18-team bracket because of their Colonial Athletic Affiliation (CAA) title victory earlier this month. A Wednesday 4-0 win versus Lehigh College within the event’s opening spherical matched up Delaware with No. 1 general seed North Carolina on Friday.
The Tar Heels scored 5 straight after an early purpose by Delaware junior Julia Duffhuis to take down the Hens 5-1 in first-round motion, ending the rollercoaster journey for van de Kerkhof and his squad.
“We had quite a lot of good moments however not sufficient to combat ourselves again into the sport,” van de Kerkhof mentioned after the loss.
North Carolina (18-0, 6-0 ACC) had a staggering 28 photographs, together with 12 throughout a primary interval onslaught of alternatives. In the meantime, Delaware (10-12, 5-1 CAA) mustered solely six complete photographs, although three of these had been on the purpose.
Maybe the largest vibrant spot from Friday was graduate scholar and goalkeeper Lizzie Gaebel’s efficiency. She tallied a career-high 15 saves, good for a 75% save price.
Gaebel, one of many senior leaders on the crew, heated as much as assist Delaware storm again into CAA competition. The Hens gained their final 5 common season convention video games after a September defeat at Monmouth. Within the CAA event, Gaebel and the protection allowed only one purpose every to Northeastern and Drexel.
“As a program we wish to thank our whole participant group for staying the course, trusting the method and by no means [stopping] believing that we might play our greatest hockey when it mattered most, the submit season,” van de Kerkhof mentioned in a college press launch.
Senior midfielder and CAA Championship Most Excellent Participant Ashlyn Carr was one other crucial piece of this yr’s Hens, enjoying the second-most minutes (1,079) and scoring the third-most factors (22) on the crew.
The ninth convention title for Delaware’s head coach was the primary such crew that had an general report under the .500 mark.
However to the Hens’ credit score, 9 of their 12 losses got here versus nationally ranked non-conference opponents. 4 of these 9 video games had been one-possession deficits, together with a September house additional time loss towards then No. 10 Connecticut.
Delaware’s turnaround from a disastrous begin was leap began again on Sept. 30 versus the identical Drexel Dragons that ended up within the CAA ultimate. The Hens used 5 saves from Gaebel and a second half Berber Bakermans purpose to safe a 2-1 victory, and eventually a second notch within the win column.
From there, Bakermans, junior Kiki Oudshoorn and the remainder of the offense picked up the tempo, averaging three targets per recreation, a lot improved from lower than two targets per recreation within the opening 9 matches.
Bakermans, a junior, ended the season with a team-high 17 assists and can doubtless be a number one pressure of the midfield subsequent yr. Regardless of dropping a powerful senior class in Gaebel, Carr, Grace Hoepfner, Morgan Rigual and Lisa Kater, van de Kerkhof has proven the power to rebuild this system’s expertise yr in, yr out.
After dropping star midfielder Femke Strien one yr in the past, amongst different graduates, the Hens had been capable of rebound with Carr, Bakermans and CAA Defensive Participant of the Yr Duffhuis on the all-conference first crew.
“This crew, had many underclassmen enjoying high quality minutes,” van de Kerkhof mentioned. “I’m assured with what we’ve got returning and becoming a member of subsequent yr. The Blue Hens might be again within the place to compete for championships.”