BY RICKY POLLITT
Coming off a heartbreaking loss in the CAC Championship game, the Salisbury University men’s lacrosse team rebounded in the first round of the NCAA tournament with a 19-6 blowout over Catholic University.
Unlike the Sea Gulls’ (19-1) last three games, Salisbury’s offense got off to a fast start, putting up four goals on the board within the first eight minutes.
Salisbury lost junior attack Brady Dashiell to an injury in last week’s loss, putting pressure on fellow attack Nick Garbarino to make an impact near the crease.
Garbarino found the back of the net twice in the first quarter, putting two low shots past Cardinals’ (11-7) goalie Harrison Holak to give SU the early lead.
“Coach always says next man up. It took a little bit to get use to the zone (defense), but as soon as we started getting good looks it started to open up,” Garbarino said.
Despite going on a 4-0 run to start the game, Catholic battled back with three goals from sophomore midfielder Bennett Bradley.
Trailing 5-3 in the final 30 seconds of the first quarter, Cardinals’ midfielder Dylan Neville ripped a shot past SU goalie Colin Reymann with three seconds remaining to cut the lead to one.
Even with the added momentum and the chance to tie the game, Catholic failed to find the back of the net for the next two quarters.
Salisbury entered the second half on fire, with senior midfielder James Burton scoring three goals while junior attack Carson Kalama put in two. Junior attack Nathan Blondino went into the half with three assist and finished the day with eight and a goal.
“I thought we had pretty even goal scoring effort throughout all four quarters,” Blondino said. “We started moving the ball with confidence and that really helped us.”
The offense went on an 11-0 run from early on in the second quarter to the 9:56 mark in the fourth. Catholic finally got back on the board with a fourth goal from Bradley, but the damage was already done.
The Gulls continued to run up the score with Garbarino leading the way with five goals, while Kalama tallied four making him the lead scorer for the maroon and gold.
“Once we got a little more relaxed, things started to open up, and we started to see the net despite a great effort by their goalie today,” Sea Gulls’ head coach Jim Berkman said.
After letting up 10 goals to York in their last game, the Salisbury defense came out showing physical pressure and shutting down the Cardinals’ top players.
Along with keeping Catholic off the score board for 35 minutes, the Gulls defense caused 24 turnovers, cleared 13 of 15 balls and only allowed 21 shots.
“We started to play our game and trust everyone else around. Not one individual was trying to make a play or put everyone else in jeopardy,” junior midfielder Andrew Ternahan said. “Everyone just believed in each other we were successful.”
With Salisbury’s primary face off man, Duncan Campbell serving a four-game suspension, Berkman called on Ternahan and fellow midfielders T.J. Logue and Davis Anderson to get things started at the X.
“A lot of it has to do with great wing play, with Ternahan, Davis Anderson and T.J., it’s like a three-headed monster,” Berkman said.
Salisbury’s win advances them to the second round of the NCAA tournament where they will face the winner of Colorado College and Whittier.
Getting knocked down two spots from its previous top ranking, Salisbury players believe they have a chip on their shoulders.
They are determined to keep fighting until the national championship trophy is in their hands, and they can once again call themselves the best of the best.