BY RICKY POLLITT
The No. 2 Salisbury men’s lacrosse team capped off a two-game weekend with victories over No. 17 Roanoke and conference opponent Southern Virginia.
With a 14-6 victory over Roanoke on Friday, the Sea Gulls recorded their highest goal total of the season with a 26-7 blowout over the Knights Saturday afternoon.
Salisbury (11-0) relied on strong offense and shutdown defense to secure the win over Southern Virginia (5-5). The Sea Gulls had 16 different players find the back of the net, while shutting out the Knights through the opening quarter.
Junior attack Carson Kalama and junior midfielder Thomas Cirillo led the way for the Gulls with four goals each. Kalama also recorded two assists giving him six points on the day.
“Offense we look good. If we come out and play our system, we can hang points on anybody, and going forward that’s what we need,” Cirillo said.
The Salisbury offense dominated throughout the match, outshooting the Knights 53-25 and capitalizing on three extra-man opportunities.
Much like previous games, face offs were also a strong part of the Sea Gulls’ victory.
Junior midfielder Duncan Campbell won 14-of-17 battles at the X. With a total of 25 face-off victories, Salisbury’s offense was able to strike early and quickly.
Southern Virginia was successful on only 11-of-36 face off matches.
“I thought our face off play was outstanding,” Sea Gulls head coach Jim Berkman said. “Duncan did a nice job matching up with their guy and giving our offense a chance to go to work early on.”
Along with Cirillo and Kalama, junior attack Nathan Blondino tallied three goals and three assists in the match. Blondino finished the weekend with 11 points after a four goal, one assist day against Roanoke.
A number of Sea Gulls were able to score their first goal of their career with Salisbury holding a comfortable lead throughout the majority of the game.
Freshmen Corey Gwin and Kyle Richbourg recorded their first goals with the Maroon and Gold, while Dash Ferguson received his first assist.
“It’s a good opportunity for those guys who don’t get to play a lot to get some time, and it’s nice seeing them get their first goals,” Berkman said.
The Salisbury coaching staff made the decision to rest starting goalie Joshua Dean against the Knights, giving Colin Reymann, Anthony Stavrakis and Hayden Donnelly a chance to show their skills between the pipes.
The goalies tallied nine goals and held the Knights to one goal or less in two of the four quarters.
“I thought Colin had an outstanding day, he saw a few shots, made a few saves and prevented them from getting more goals than they did,” Berkman said.
Salisbury’s defense in total caused 18 turnovers, scooped up 49 ground balls and helped clear 24 balls.
The trio of Will Nowesnick, Kyle Tucker and Aaron Leeds have helped form the Sea Gull defense into a shutdown unit allowing only 6.91 goals-per-game.
“There was definitely a doubt with the defense coming into the season, but the defense has really stepped up throughout the year,” Blondino said. “In the Mary Washington game we had to rely on defense, so it’s good to have a defense that can pull up when the offense just isn’t getting it done.”
Saturday’s victory gives Salisbury its best start since 2012 – the last year they won the national championship.
After defeating six ranked opponents half way through the season, the Sea Gulls are determined to get back to Philadelphia to fight for the ultimate prize.
“We expect to win every game we’re on the field, so we’d like to make a statement to the nation, but to us it’s a statement we’ve already made,” Cirillo said. “We just need to keep rolling.”