The Marist men’s lacrosse team learned on Sunday night who their next opponent will be in the opening round of the NCAA tournament. After securing the MAAC Championship title on Saturday, the Red Foxes are set to face the Delaware Blue Hens Wednesday at 7 p.m.
Delaware is fresh off a 13-10 win in the Colonial Athletic Association Championship game against Stony Brook. The Blue Hens were the number one seed in the CAA this season with a 12-4 overall record.
Delaware’s offense is led by redshirt senior attackman Tye Kurtz and junior attackman JP Ward, each of whom has 76 points on the season. Kurtz is projected to be picked in this season’s Premier Lacrosse League draft.
Here’s what to watch as Marist looks to advance in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2015 when it beat Bryant in a play-in game.
Can Marist keep the momentum going?
The Marist offense has been scorching hot, scoring 60 goals in the three games of the MAAC Tournament, which set a new record. The Red Foxes received goals from at least ten different players throughout the tournament.
That level of scoring is obviously difficult to sustain, but the Red Foxes have arguably the hottest offense in America right now, and if they can keep that going, this team will give the Blue Hens problems.
Delaware’s defense was ranked second in the CAA in caused turnovers per game with 9.56. A player to watch on Delaware’s defense is a projected top-10 pick in the Premier Lacrosse League draft in redshirt senior defenseman Owen Grant, who is the reigning CAA Defensive Player of the Year. Grant has forced 34 turnovers on the season.
Limiting Delaware’s Offense
The Blue Hens have a deep roster, with seven players who have 23 points or more this season. Delaware is again led by Ward and Kurtz, who are ranked first and second in the CAA in points per game with 4.75 each.
A big storyline coming into this game is going to be sophomore defender Aidan McCaffrey, who transferred from Delaware last season and will now play in a very meaningful game against his former team.
McCaffrey has been nothing but sensational for the Red Foxes in his first full season experiencing minutes. Last game, McCaffrey tied the program record for most caused turnovers in a single season with thirty.
Highlighting the other two close defenders, senior defender Kurt Wessner was named to the tournament team with his stellar play, and graduate student defender Kyle Stofko broke the record for turnovers caused in a career at Marist with 63. These three will look to contain Delaware’s offense on Wednesday.
Controlling the Faceoff X
Marist has been rock solid at the faceoff x in the past three games because of sophomore Dylan Bedell’s play. After garnering 46 faceoff wins and 25 ground balls in three games, Bedell was named to the all-tournament team.
Bedell’s next opponent will be Delaware’s senior faceoff man Roland Hockenbery, who is sixth in the conference with a .498 winning percentage at the x. During the MAAC Tournament, Bedell posted a 50 percent win rate at the x.
The main thing that Bedell has been doing well recently is his ability to—if he does not win the clamp— give his wings a chance to get the ground balls and get those extra possessions his team needs.
In Between the Pipes
Anyone looking to watch two excellent goalies battle it out should look no further than this game.
The MVP of the MAAC tournament was senior goalie Dan O’Meara, who had 38 saves in three games and is playing his best lacrosse of the season, seeing the ball spectacularly. On the other side of the field is Delaware’s graduate student Matt Kilkeary, who ranks first in two of the major goalie statistics in the CAA. Those categories are goals against average (9.25) and save percentage (53 percent).
With both offenses on fire recently, expect each goalie to see their fair share of shots on goal Wednesday night.
The winner of this contest will travel to Durham, North Carolina to face the number one overall-seed Duke Blue Devils. That game is set for Sunday, May 14 time TBD.
Edited by Jonathan Kinane and Luke Sassa
Photo Credit: Marist Athletics via Stockton Photo