Winged helmets collide: Michigan holds off Delaware in Top 20 tilt

RYAN GIBB
Staff Reporter

Soaked jerseys. Smeared eye black. Soggy nets. Slick posts. A clash of yellow with maize and blue with navy. The highly anticipated blockbuster matchup of Michigan vs. Delaware did not disappoint this past Saturday. 

Coming off an 11-10 loss at the University of Pennsylvania, the then-No. 19 Delaware Blue Hens hosted the then-No. 13 Michigan Wolverines on a misty first Saturday of March. It was quite the atmosphere, with over 1,500 in attendance at Delaware Stadium.

Riding a wave of wins over Canisius College, Hobart, Marquette and Jacksonville University, Michigan looked to build on its four-game win streak coming into this game. 

In last year’s matchup, Michigan defeated Delaware 16-12 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Saturday’s game had a similar result. After both teams felt each other out for the majority of the first quarter, it was a game of ebb and flow. 

Jacob Letnaunchyn/THE REVIEW

A highlight of the game was Delaware’s prolific attackman, senior JP Ward, scoring a hat trick. Pacy junior midfielder Jason Kolar danced down the wing behind the goal and passed it up to graduate student middie Jessen, who then swung it to a hungry Ward. Ward darted around the right side of the crease and effortlessly skipped one past the Wolverines’ undefeated sophomore goalie Hunter Taylor for his third of the game. A roar from the Delaware faithful. 4-2 Blue Hens. 

The lead would be Delaware’s last of the game. For the rainy remainder, the Hens fought to crawl back against an unyielding, disciplined Wolverine defense and relentless offense. 

The key difference in the matchup lay in the faceoff column. Michigan won 16 of its 25 faceoff attempts thanks to senior faceoff man Justin Wietfeldt. The Wolverines simply had more offensive opportunities and production because of this edge. 

A bright spot was Delaware’s man-up success. Senior midfielder Matt Acchione scored both of Delaware’s man-up goals, almost in identical fashion. 

It was senior attackman Michael Boehm who ended the scoreless standstill, putting the Wolverines on the board first with 7:24 left in the first quarter. The lead did not last for long as Delaware graduate captain Mike Robinson, the national leader in goals per game, found newcomer middie Tyler Owings through a seam in the Wolverine crease, tallying Owings’ second goal of the season.

Ward followed suit, slipping in a quick tandem of goals to make it 3-1 Hens. Michigan graduate attackman Justin Tiernan, who scored four in this matchup, then made it 3-2 to close out a very competitive first quarter.

The second quarter featured the Ward hat trick and a Wolverine offensive takeover from Boehm and junior attackman Ryan Cohen. At the end of the first half, it was 6-5 Michigan.

In the third quarter, Michigan quickly strung a trio of goals together in the first three minutes, with Tiernan completing the hat trick to make it 9-5 Wolverines. Tiernan then tallied his fourth of the game to make it 10-5 Michigan.

Delaware needed to act before things got out of hand, and that was when Jessen ripped one past Taylor to cut the lead to 10-6. Sophomore midfielder Brendan Powers heroically caught a pass from Jessen on the crease, taking a hard hit while putting it top shelf to spark some hope for Delaware. Heading into the fourth quarter, Michigan led 11-7. 

In the fourth, Acchione answered the call on the man-up once again, cutting Michigan’s lead to 11-8. 

It was Boehm who put the nail in the coffin, notching a hat trick that stifled Delaware’s comeback. It was too little too late for the Hens, leaving the final score at 13-8 with a Michigan empty-netter.

Jacob Letnaunchyn/THE REVIEW

The Blue Hens (2-2) hit the road to face a conference foe in Monmouth University (3-2) this Saturday at 11:00 a.m. The trip across the Delaware Memorial Bridge will be Delaware’s first Coastal Athletic Association men’s lacrosse game this season and its penultimate CAA opener before being uprooted by other Blue Hen sports’ move to Conference USA in 2025-26.

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