Posted Tuesday, May 27, 2008 by .
SALISBURY -- It's tough to say what Jake DeLillo brings to the starting
offensive unit for the Salisbury University men's lacrosse team. He's a
different player -- he admits it and his teammates admit it -- but it's hard
to describe why.
"Jake gives us a new dimension on attack," SU junior midfielder Kylor
Berkman said. "He's not like anyone we've had before. He wasn't like (Eric
Bishop, who was on the 2007 team). He can come around the goal and create
offense. I don't know, he plays a different style, and I don't think a lot
of people have seen that style before. That gives an opportunity to get to
the goal a little bit."
Sure, DeLillo knows he's a bit different, but how?
"I just try to get open," DeLillo said. "A lot of people say I'm more of a
top-side guy than a feeder. I'm quick behind the goal. But I just go out and
do my thing, play the game and try to help the team win."
Maybe his coach, who's been in the game for more than 20 years, can describe
"Jake is a good off-ball player. He finishes well. He cuts extremely well,"
SU coach Jim Berkman said. "He's fast, and he's one of the strongest kids on
the team per pound."
Either way, DeLillo has brought a spark to the first offensive unit since he
joined the starting lineup on March 25, against York. That day, he put up a
hat trick. It was just his second in the first 10 games. He would go on to
add four more (including one four-goal game) heading into Sunday's NCAA
Division III national championship in Foxborough, Mass.
"It's great playing with a strong core of guys like this, not just
offensively, but defensively, playing with them in practice, going against
one of the best defenses in the country," DeLillo said. "I don't really
think anything's changed (in the last 12 games). We get well together, and
it's been a fun ride so far. Hopefully, we can finish it up Sunday."
DeLillo was coming into a situation in which two starting attackmen (Matt
Hickman and Greg Titus) were returning from the 2007 team, which was the
top-scoring offense in the country. DeLillo is a sophomore transfer from the
New York Institute of Technology.
"They're great players, it's all about senior leadership," DeLillo said.
"Guys like Hickman and Titus, Kylor, all the veterans, they helped the young
guys out. The young guys who play a lot definitely learn a lot from them.
All the experience, winning a national championship last year, they know
what to expect and what's going to happen."
Last fall it appeared DeLillo would step in and fill the void left by the
graduating Bishop at the start of the season, who ranked fourth in the
country in points per game, but when the spring came around, things changed.
"Jake had a great fall and we thought he was going to be that guy
(starting)," Jim Berkman said. "Then he kind of went in a little bit of a
slump, and I think it was almost like he was playing like a freshman that
didn't want to step on any senior's toes or upperclassmen's toes. He kind of
went in a shell a little bit.
Patrick Bonanno started up front, until the DeLillo that SU's coaches had
seen in the fall came back around. He got his first start in the 10th game
of the season and has been there since. He's filled the hole left by Bishop,
standing a similar height (Bishop was listed at 5-foot-6 last year, same as
DeLillo) and a similar stocky, strong frame. In SU's strength test, in which
players attempt to bench press their own body weight as many times as
possible, DeLillo lifted his 165 pounds 34 times, setting a program record.
"Attackmen are usually more finesse guys," Jim Berkman said. "I wouldn't say
they're the strongest cats in the world, and he's one of the strongest
attackmen we've ever had in that regard."
Playing a physical SUNY Cortland defense on Sunday, DeLillo will need that
strength to make holes when they're not there and finish some contested
goals to keep the SU offense rolling.