Fall Ball Focus: Quick-Witted Mike Robinson Ready to Blossom Even More


Mike Robinson scored a team-high 43 goals last spring.

Mike Robinson was committed to Delaware before Ben DeLuca and his staff took over the Blue Hens in 2017.

It didn’t take long for the Canadian to become a priority for the new coach to keep in the fold.

“What stood out for us when we were recruiting him was his compete level,” DeLuca said. “Watching him compete and just pursue greatness on the field, for us it just hooked us right away. We knew he was a guy we wanted to have on our team and in our locker room.”

More than four years later, Robinson has played two seasons for the rising Blue Hens, who won the Colonial Athletic Association regular season title last year. Robinson was in the middle of it all, scoring a team-high 43 goals a year after scoring 17 times in the truncated 2020 season.

He’s a man who draws attention — and will receive even more of it after the graduation of Blue Hen mainstay Charlie Kitchen. And he has big aspirations for what Delaware can do as a rising program.

But he’s not serious all the time. When he first enrolled at Delaware, the school sent him a form to fill out to help fill out his background for use in promotional materials like the team website.

One question proved a stumper: Career aspiration, an understandably tough question for anyone fresh out of high school. His answer was fairly original: Prime minister of Canada.

“I remember we had to submit those before entering our freshman year at Delaware just for bios. I was sitting with my friends at home and at that point, I had no idea what I wanted to do,” Robinson said. “So I said, ‘Screw it, I’ll put that down for now, I guess.’”

That quick wit, DeLuca said, is a common presence in the Blue Hens’ locker room. But it’s combined with a high level of play and commitment to improve, making him a natural leader within the program.

Opponents don’t find dealing with Robinson so humorous, which became plenty apparent early last season. Robinson was held out because of contact tracing for Delaware’s season-opener, a loss at Mount St. Mary’s.

Once back on the field, he scored at least three goals in seven consecutive games, including a nine-goal outburst against Saint Joseph’s in his second contest of the year and a seven-goal performance against Fairfield on April 2.

“When you see a young man who puts nine goals on the board in a game, it’s, ‘Get him the ball. Let him do his thing,’” DeLuca said. “He’s not a one-trick pony, by any stretch of the imagination. He’s able to do a lot of different things to put pressure on the defense, and we’re trying to utilize all of those skills that he has.”

Robinson was part of a well-constructed attack unit that featured Robinson as a finisher and Kitchen (28 goals, 27 assists) and Tye Kurtz (26 goals, 22 assists) as more multi-dimensional offensive threats. While Kitchen is gone in 2022, Kurtz returns, as does the Blue Hens’ entire starting midfield.

Robinson credits the all-around cohesion of Delaware’s offense for allowing him an impressive second freshman season — one that landed him CAA rookie of the year honors as well as a place on the all-conference first team.

“You look at a lot of my goals, they’re all assisted goals,” Robinson said. “A lot of times it’s just me playing off-ball and trying to find space off-ball for other guys who are really good at creating space with their feet. I think my biggest thing was putting myself in position where I could be able to succeed by what my teammates were able to do.”

Just because Robinson wasn’t asked to be a feeder last season doesn’t mean he isn’t capable of doing so, and DeLuca said the Blue Hens will ask him to expand his role this spring.

He already did more than normally expected of a 40-goal scorer, playing regularly on faceoff wings and tying for the team lead with 45 ground balls on the season.

“I think that indicates the versatility he brings,” DeLuca said. “He’s a guy we ask to do a lot of different things, not just down on the attack scoring goals. There’s a lot of hidden and invisible plays, and that goes back to his compete level and what he does. He’s such a tough and a driven and a selfless player. He’s willing to do whatever we need him to do to be successful.”

This year, that could mean winning plenty of one-on-one matchups, especially with the dynamic Kitchen’s college career complete. It could also be the critical piece to Delaware enjoying a long-awaited return to the postseason.

The Blue Hens hadn’t posted a winning record since a 2011 NCAA tournament appearance when DeLuca took over, and they have progressed from 6-8 to 10-5 to 4-2 to 10-3 over the course of his tenure. Last year was their best chance to end a decade-long postseason drought, but they dropped a 10-9 decision at Hofstra in the CAA semifinals.

“We have a lot of talent on this roster. I think we can only go up from last year, and that’s our biggest thing — just keep moving forward,” Robinson said. “I think everybody that was with our team last year that experienced that loss to Hofstra, they’ve probably kept that in the back of their minds throughout the summer.”

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