Vienna resigns as Athletic Director

By Jacob Troxell

Editor-in-Chief

Salisbury University Athletic Director Michael Vienna, who has been SU’s AD for 26 years, has resigned to take the AD job at Emory University.

Former men's basketball coach Josh Merkel celebrating after winning the 2015 CAC title, one of 155 under AD Michael Vienna. (Photo: Mitchell Northam)

Former men’s basketball coach Josh Merkel celebrating after winning the 2015 CAC title, one of 155 under AD Michael Vienna. (Photo: Mitchell Northam)

“I am eternally grateful to everyone whom I have had the incredible pleasure of working with for the past 26 years at SU,” Vienna said. “On a daily basis I stand in awe of the remarkable accomplishments of so many individuals who have made us A Maryland University of National Distinction.”

[Read more…]

Softball takes Regional Championship against Virginia Wesleyan

By Diamond Holton

Salisbury University women’s softball won the Regional Championship Saturday, defeating Virginia Wesleyan, 3-2, in a best of three series at SU Softball Field.

Despite an early run from senior Courtney Bogan to put the Marlins (30-7) up 1-0, the Sea Gulls managed to prevail late in the game. Salisbury (32-6) had a record of 4-5 when their opponent scores first, and Head Coach Margie Knight felt great about the win.

“We’re certainly elated that we were able to come out on top in this very tough region,” she said. “The format for one and then facing two really good teams, and certainly some great pitchers.”

Senior pitcher Rachel Johnson threw eight strikeouts allowing two runs off four hits. She managed to keep her composure throughout despite the first run in the beginning.

“I just settled down and there wasn’t really anything you could do,” Johnson said. “I just looked for the next pitch and I had confidence in my team that we had to score, so I just relaxed and focused on my next pitch.”

The tying run of the game came in the top of the fifth inning when Coach Knight switched in pinch hitter Annie Pietanza for sophomore Caitlin Lake as junior Molly Simpson was on second base. A base hit from Pietanza gave Simpson the run to tie the game and Knight had confidence in her to get the job done.

“If you could see Annie hit at practice, she’s got some power and a wonderful swing,” Knight said. “I explained to her what her job was yesterday and today I asked her what her job was and she told me and I said ok and walked away.”

Relief came in the top of the sixth inning as junior Annah Brittingham drove in two runs, juniors Kim Dorsey and Paige Knussman. With that the Sea Gulls took a 3-1 lead.

“I was just thinking about getting people home, getting RBIs, and getting runs for Rachel,” Brittingham said. “All I was thinking about was getting the hit.”

A triple by junior Kayla Malkos and a later pop fly out put the Marlins close behind eith a 3-2 deficit, but that was not enough as Johnson threw the heat causing Va. Wesleyan to hit pop flys and for the Sea Gulls to seal the game with the title.

Salisbury has some time off before the Super Regionals this weekend. The location and opponent will be determined by Monday night after all regional play finishes throughout the NCAA Tournament.

Men’s LAX advances to round two in NCAA tournament, will face Stevenson

BY RICKY POLLITT

Staff Writer

@rickypollitt52

In a tight battle at Sea Gull Stadium on Wednesday night, the Salisbury men’s lacrosse team defeated Roanoke College, 6-3 to draw a rematch with rival Stevenson in the second round of the NCAA tournament.

Both Roanoke (12-7) and Salisbury (16-4) came into the game with high scoring offenses, but it was the defenses of both teams that controlled the tempo.

“We’ve had a great defensive effort throughout the season,” Sea Gulls head coach Jim Berkman said. “We’ve held a lot of good teams in check, and I take my hat off to (the defense’s) ability to step up when we definitely weren’t playing on all eight cylinders on offense.”

The Sea Gulls’ defense shut out Roanoke’s offense in the second half, only allowing 24 shots throughout the game.

Senior goalkeeper Connor Anderson was coming off a career day where he recorded 16 saves against Frostburg in the CAC Championship game. Anderson had another impressive night holding the Maroons to three goals while tallying eight saves.

“We knew what we had to do going in, and now we’re moving forward,” Anderson said. “Knute (Kraus), Austin (Kemp) and Will (Nowesnick) were able to shut down their guys accordingly, which makes it easier for me.”

Salisbury was able to find the back of the net six times with attacks Carson Kalam (2), Mike Kane (1), Nathan Blondino (1), and midfielders Sean Fitzgerald (1) and Jake Rotman (1) all putting up goals for the Sea Gulls.

Early on in the match though, it looked like the game could go either way.

Roanoke was able to tie the game up after the first quarter with two goals from freshman attack Iv Stucker, but Salisbury’s defense continued to apply pressure and cause 14 turnovers by the Maroons.

“The coaches give us one of the best scouting reports,” Kraus said. “When we buckle down and do everything we need to do, you get results like that.”

As the game went on, almost everyone in the crowd was curious about the result of another lacrosse matchup going on. Stevenson defeated Eastern, 12-5 to give them a date with Salisbury on Saturday.

Stevenson beat the Sea Gulls earlier in the year at Sea Gull Stadium with a 9-8 overtime win. However, both teams look a lot different than they did a few months ago.

“It’s always an emotional game, but it’s playoffs now and it doesn’t matter who we’re playing,” Anderson said. “We’re just going to treat it like another game, scout accordingly and come out and play.

Men’s Lacrosse punches ticket to NCAA Tournament with conference championship

NICK DIMATTEO
Staff Writer
@Nick_DiMatteo93

The No. 8 Salisbury University Men’s Lacrosse team earned its 19th Capital Athletic Conference championship on Saturday with a 14-5 victory over Frostburg Sate University at Sea Gull Stadium.

“Obviously we had to win this game to punch our ticket to move onto the next round, so I think there wasn’t a lack of anything to fire us up,” Salisbury senior defender and CAC Player of the Year Knute Kraus said. “We were excited all week and ready to get out here and prove were one of the best defenses in the country.”

Salisbury started the game with a 4-0 run 33 seconds into the game, when James Burton found Cason Kalama in the crease for a quick 1-0 lead.

Thomas Ciriillo added the second goal for the Sea Gulls when he launched a low shot that flew past the Frostburg goalie for a 2-0 lead. The score would remain there for the remainder of the first quarter.

Goalkeeper Connor Anderson had one of the best days of his lacrosse career keeping Frostburg out of the goal, for the first quarter and a half, recording a career high 16 saves while earning his 13th win of the season.

“Our defense knew what we had to do,” Salisbury keeper Connor Anderson said. “Our defense took the hands away from the kids we knew could shoot so the shots I was getting were all shots I like to see. Kudos to the defense, it’s easy when they do their part for me.”

Burton scored his second goal thanks to a pass from Cirillo minutes into the second quarter. Mike Kane then added a goal by scoring from the right side of the crease to give Salisbury a 4-0 lead.

Frostburg would then answer with two goals, cutting the score in half to 4-2, before Sean Fitzgerald added another goal for the Sea Gulls to start a 9-0 run for Salisbury.

Burton added his second goal to close out the first half with just over one minute left to give Salisbury a 6-2 halftime lead.  At the half Frostburg had a slight lead in shots taken 26-24, ground balls 19-14, and had won 7-10 face offs.

Salisbury opened up the second half with a man-up opportunity, which would begin a 7-0 run through the third quarter. Nathan Blondino found Kalama just thirty seconds into the third quarter. Cameron Maples then won the following face off and drove straight down the middle unassisted to score for Salisbury just eight seconds later.

“It was a great run in the third quarter, we ran that little fake flip play to start that man up they bit on it, Carson ended up with a dunk,” Head Coach Jim Berkman said. “Couldn’t ask for a better way to start the third quarter than run the man-up play you’ve been practicing for a while and you end up with a dunk to start the quarter.”

Davis Anderson then did the same thing off of a Frostburg turnover, driving right down the middle of the field for Salisbury’s third goal in a matter of minutes to give a 9-2 lead.

The 10th goal for Salisbury came from Christian Ottenritter from the left side of the crease. Kalama added two more goals, leading the team with four, and also scoring his 50th goal for the season. Fitzgerald added his second to close out the third quarter with a 13-2 lead.

Cirillo would add the final goal for Salisbury with just over 8 minutes left in the game.

As the CAC champion, Salisbury has earned an automatic bid into the NCAA tournament.

“It is what it is, we’re a good road team we won a lot big games in the past on the road,” Berkman said. “We really like the way we’re playing right now and we’re going to be a tough match for anybody that has to play us.”

Women’s LAX wins CAC, advances to NCAA tournament

RICKY POLLITT
Staff Writer
@rickypollitt52

For the 13th straight season, Salisbury University’s women’s lacrosse team hoisted the trophy that declared them the best team in the Capital Athletic Conference.

SU's women's lacrosse team celebrates CAC win. (Photo: Ricky Pollitt)

SU’s women’s lacrosse team celebrates CAC win. (Photo: Ricky Pollitt)

In a battle of the top two seeds, the Sea Gulls defeated York College 6-3 to advance to the NCAA Tournament once again.

“We played very well defensively, and offensively had some very good possessions,” Sea Gulls’ head coach Jim Nestor said. “I’m very pleased and feeling very good.”

Salisbury (14-3) had defeated the Spartans (13-5) by a score of 10-7 at Sea Gull Stadium earlier in the season, but both teams looked very different than they did back in March.

In a very tight first half, the Sea Gulls were able to manage a 3-2 lead at halftime with goals coming from attack Hannah Young and midfielders Bethany Baer and Gabbi Nieves. [Read more…]

Merkel leaves Salisbury men’s basketball for Randolph-Macon

MITCHELL NORTHAM
Sports Editor
@primetimeMitch

Josh Merkel returned to Salisbury University in 2011 to coach the men’s basketball team.

Now, he’s leaving to return to Randolph-Macon University, where he was an assistant in 2010.

After leading the Sea Gulls this past season to their first NCAA tournament appearance since 1997, Merkel is resigning to take the head coaching job at Randolph-Macon in Ashland, Virginia. He will be introduced as the Division III Yellow Jackets’ head coach on Friday at press conference at 4 p.m.

Celebrating after winning the CAC title. (Photo: Mitchell Northam)

Celebrating after winning the CAC title. (Photo: Mitchell Northam)

On Wednesday, Randolph Macon identified that Merkel was one of three finalists for the position, along with Sean McAloon of St. John’s College High School in Washington D.C. and Alan Seretti of Dickinson College. Today they announced that Merkel was selected over the other two and would be named the new head coach of the Yellow Jackets.

“I am thrilled to have the opportunity to be the next head coach at Randolph-Macon College,” Merkel said in a press release from Randolph-Macon. “I am humbled and grateful by the faith and confidence that Athletics Director Jeff Burns, President Robert Lindgren and Provost William Franz have placed in me.”

Aside from coaching the Sea Gulls, Merkel  graduated from Salisbury 2001. As a player, he averaged 9.3 points, 2.5 rebounds and 1.8 assists per-game in 98 appearances. He returned years later to accept the Sea Gulls’ head coaching job in 2011 and compiled a 66-41 record in four years.

This past year, Merkel led the Sea Gulls in what was one of their best seasons in nearly two decades. The Sea Gulls captured the Capital Athletic Conference title in 2015 – their first since 1998 – and made it to the second round of the NCAA tournament before falling to Trinity College.

“We thank Josh Merkel for his contributions to the men’s basketball program during his time as the head coach,” Salisbury Director of Athletics Dr. Michael Vienna said in a statement. “He has done an outstanding job in leading and mentoring our student-athletes. We wish him all the best in his future endeavors.”

Prior to accepting the head coaching job at Salisbury in 2011, Merkel was an assistant at Randolph Macon under Nathan Davis. That season the Yellow Jackets went 25-5, won the Old Dominion Athletic Conference tournament championship and advanced to the second round of the Division III NCAA tournament.

Davis resigned from his position on April 19 to take the head coaching job at Division I Bucknell University. During his time as head coach since 2009, he posted a record of 141-39, won three conference championships and appeared in six straight NCAA tournaments. This past season, the Yellow Jackets went 28-3 and advanced to the Elite Eight.

The Sea Gulls will now begin their national search for a new head coach.

Salisbury lacrosse teams advance to CAC Championship game

BY RICKY POLLITT

Staff Writer

@rickypollitt52

The Salisbury men’s and women’s lacrosse teams both were able to win in the semi-final round of the Capital Athletic Conference tournament on Saturday; sending them to the championship game.

In a tale of two teams, the women’s team (13-3, 8-0 CAC) struggled to secure the win against Mary Washington, while the men (14-4, 8-0 CAC) blew out York College for a second straight game.

[Read more…]

Men’s tennis ends season with CAC loss to Christopher Newport

RICKY POLLITT
Staff Writer
@rickypollitt52

The Salisbury University men’s tennis team saw its season come to an end with a 5-4 defeat at the hands of rival Christopher Newport on Tuesday.

Eric Spangler prepares to return a serve from CNU.

Junior men’s tennis player Eric Spangler prepares to return a serve from CNU on Tuesday. (Photo: Ricky Pollitt)

It was a semifinal matchup in the Capital Athletic Conference playoffs and – for CNU – the victory sends them to the CAC Championship match.

For the second game in a row, the Sea Gulls (16-5, 6-2 CAC) would have to face a Captains’ team (13-10, 6-2) that barely lost in the regular season finale. The Sea Gulls edged them by a score a 5-4, but seeing Salisbury on their court before a playoff match gave CNU some experience that they used to their advantage.

“Seeing us just a few days ago definitely worked to their advantage,” Sea Gulls’ junior Eric Spangler said. “They had never played on these courts before and we know the ins and outs, but they definitely seemed more ready to play this time.”

Spangler was the only Sea Gull that won both his matches Tuesday. The Captains got up early on Salisbury winning 2-1 in doubles before notching three single match victories to give them the overall win.

“It’s a tough result, but I’m extremely proud of the guys and how we fought and how we played,” Sea Gulls’ head coach Randy Halfpap said. “It was by far one of the most exciting college matches I’ve been a part of.”

After losing the doubles portion of the meeting, Salisbury knew they would have to play tough to win at least four matches in singles competition.

Senior Demetri Vrahnos and junior Shanon Gunther were the only other Sea Gulls, besides Spangler, to get victories one-on-one.

After eight matches had been played, the score was tied at four with all eyes on freshman Sean Ngo.

It was déjà vu for the Sea Gulls, for it was the second game in a row the match would rely on the freshman to capture a win away from CNU.

“It’s amazing how five days ago we had the same type of match, same score, but unfortunately a different result,” Halfpap said.

Freshman men's tennis player Sean Ngo battles with CNU on Tuesday. (Photo: Ricky Pollitt)

Freshman men’s tennis player Sean Ngo battles with CNU on Tuesday. (Photo: Ricky Pollitt)

Ngo had defeated his opponent the game before and sent the Sea Gulls to the CAC tournament with the number two seed. This game however, would be different.

CNU’s Arttu Fiva won the first set, 6-3, before Ngo came back to capture a 7-5 win in the second set – which forced a third.

Ngo had struggled early on in this match, but managed to come back and give Salisbury one last shot at victory. The freshman took a 4-2 lead in the final set, but Fiva was able to break serve twice and wound up winning the final set, and the match, 6-4.

“I thought I played pretty well the last two sets, but it didn’t work out, and now we’ve got to get ready for next season,” Ngo said.

The loss not only ends the Sea Gulls’ season, but it also snaps a five game winning streak Salisbury had coming into the game.

Salisbury now has to deal with the losses of seniors Vrahnos, Daniel Albers, and Adam Goldberger. All three played in Tuesday’s competition.

“In the blink of an eye a match is over and the last match for three college guys,” Halfpap said. “They’ve got to look back on four years of playing and see how they had great careers.”

The men’s team will now throw its support to the women who will also play CNU in the semifinals matchup on Wednesday, but Halfpap and the rest of the team have already started preparing for next season.

“Our record was really good this season, and we did what we needed to do,” Spangler said. “We need to see what we did well, have a positive attitude and we’ll be fine.”

After a flurry of injuries, Wallenhorst stepped up and has led the Sea Gulls

flyer_women's lax

SU Athletics Photo Wallenhorst has stepped in for injured teammates this season and has become one of the integral parts of the Sea Gulls’ offense

BY RICKY POLLITT

Staff Writer

@rickypollitt52

Salisbury University’s women’s lacrosse team has seen its share of injuries this season.

In their first game against Stevenson, senior attack Shelbey Nemecek went down for the year with a torn ACL. Only one game after, the Division III women’s lacrosse pre-season play of the year – Bethany Baer – was sidelined with a wrist injury, putting her out the remainder of the regular season.

With two big injuries to start the year, the Sea Gulls were also still trying to make up for the losses of graduated players. Some were left wondering who would step up for the three-time national champions.

Megan Wallenhorst stepped up.

Wallenhorst – a native of Ellicott City, Maryland – transferred to SU last season after playing her freshman season at Division I Winthrop University. In her first year with the Sea Gulls she was named to the Capital Athletic Conference All-Academic Team and earned a Player of the Week award.

She was also productive – registering 21 goals, 13 assists and 34 points last season – but she didn’t expect to have such a big role this season. Due to injuries and graduations, her number was called.

“I’ve definitely had to step up a bit and take more control on the offense,” Wallenhorst said. “I can’t really do it though without my teammates.”

Wallenhorst also made her presence known on defense by scooping up six ground balls last season, but it was her .805 shots-on-goal percentage that had Sea Gulls’ head coach Jim Nestor thinking that the junior attack was poised for a big year.

“I think she’s always had the capability,” Nestor said. “With certain players out, she’s showing that her play can step up in big games.”

Wallenhorst has definitely shined while being in the spotlight recent weeks. With several members from last year’s NCAA championship squad gone or injured, she leads the Sea Gulls in goals and points with 32 and 51, respectively.

A big factor to Wallenhorst’s success has been the chemistry she has developed with teammates Kara O’Rourke and Hannah Young. Leading the team in assists with 43, O’Rourke has helped Wallenhorst find those open lanes that put her team in a position to score.

“Most of the goals I have are assisted, so it proves I can’t really do it without my teammates,” Wallenhorst said. “(They’re) looking for me on those cuts, and everyone having their nets ups really makes it a team effort.”

Along with the impact Wallenhorst has brought, the Sea Gulls’ offense continues to impress – averaging 12.96 goals a game and tallying an 81.4 shot on goal percentage.

With Wallenhorst leading the way, the Sea Gulls clinched the top seed in the CAC this season for a 12th straight year with a victory over St. Mary’s on April 10.

“Offensively we’ve been getting good looks all season and our players have been able to capitalize,” Nestor said. “(Wallenhorst) has really stepped up and she’s playing smart and finishing her opportunities.”

While Wallenhorst continues to lead her team on offense, she is racking up some career records too.

Against Mary Washington, the junior had a career day where she scored six goals, and later followed that performance up with nine points against St. Mary’s.

“The whole offense just works really well together. We’re learning how to play with each other,” Wallenhorst said. “The past few weeks we really wanted to prove that we were a top team, and that we’re not a fluke.

“We deserve to be here.”

Wallenhorst has also helped in the development of some of the younger players on Salisbury’s roster.

“We’ve taken charge of getting some of the younger girls worked in some more, so they can have more of an impact,” she said.

The Sea Gulls’ freshmen have combined to score 42 goals out of the team’s 190 total. Freshman attack Dana King is seventh on the team in scoring with 10 goals.

With the regular season over, the Sea Gulls have now begun to prepare for the CAC and NCAA tournaments – familiar territory for them.

As some of the injured Sea Gull players start to make their way back, Wallenhorst continues to prepare to help bring home the program’s third-straight national title.

“I’m just going to keep doing what I’ve been doing,” Wallenhorst said. “Being a leader on offense, but my primary goal is getting my team back to the National Championship.”

Gulls dominate in final home game victory

NICK DIMATTEO
Staff Writer
@Nick_DiMatteo93

The No. 10 Salisbury University men’s lacrosse team played its final regular season home game Wednesday night in a CAC matchup against York College of Pennsylvania. The Gulls took a 19-6 victory at Sea Gull Stadium clinching the No.1 seed in the CAC tournament.

“It was definitely a great answer,” Salisbury head coach Jim Berkman said. “It’s kind of a midweek game, one of those games where you don’t know what you’re really going to get. We came right out of the gate and played extremely well.”

Sophomore Carson Kalama scored the first three goals of the game for the Sea Gulls, all within the first five minutes of play, starting a dominating first half for the Sea Gulls.

“Ternahan kept coming down on the point and he had two assists for me today, which is huge,” Kalama said. “It’s nothing really what I’m doing, it is people finding me and putting the shots away.”

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