By Chris Mackowiak
The last time the Sea Gulls took the field in men’s lacrosse, they hoisted head coach Jim Berkman’s eleventh national title in Philadelphia.
This season, Salisbury returns with the same goal at the forefront, but this time Boston is potentially the final destination in late May. Despite many new faces joining the flock, a veteran core returns for the Gulls this season.
A few transfers, young talent and that same veteran core will seek to replace and replicate the production of last year’s out-going senior class. Notable names that departed include attackman Brady Dasheill, middy James Burton, and middy Davis Anderson among others. Also departing are two of Salisbury’s top leaders in Co-National: Player of the Year Preston Dabbs and Midfielder of the Year Tom Cirillo, who both join the coaching ranks alongside coach Berkman this season.
One theme for the 2017 Gulls is “depth.” This starts at the faceoff.
One of the many key players returning to Salisbury is senior faceoff man Duncan Campbell. Campbell was central to the Sea Gulls run last season before missing the final few games of the postseason. He posted a 62 percent faceoff success rate on 320 chances along with 83 ground balls, good for second on the team.
In place of Campbell towards the end of the season, sophomore faceoff man T.J. Logue came into the fold, playing well in five starts, including the National Championship game. Overall, Logue posted a 55 percent success rate and 46 ground balls.
“I think Duncan has gotten a little better of [Logue],” coach Berkman said. “It’s really, really close. I think we have two really good guys. Both are pushing themselves really, really hard.”
The long-stick middy (LSM) position sports a similar positive problem with two potential All-Americans playing the position. Senior LSM Andrew Ternahan returns to the team after receiving Third Team All-American honors last season. The senior finished with two man-down goals and finished third in the Capital Athletic Conference (CAC) in both groundballs and caused turnovers (CT).
Some competition comes to the position in 2017 through junior LSM Cory Berry, who transfers in from Division I Robert Morris. The native of Easton, Md. returns to the Eastern Shore after a few seasons with the Colonials.
“Cory and I actually grew up playing against each other,” Ternahan said, “so we’ve always been really good friends. We’ve always respected one another on the field. I’m thrilled to have him here, actually. It’s definitely competitive, but we’re supportive at the same time.”
LSM depth will provide even further dominance at the faceoff. Coach Berkman says that both of the experienced LSM’s flying in from the wings will prove the difference this season.
Other than Berry, a few other newcomers will see considerable time on the field for the Gulls. After an uphill battle with knee injuries, senior attackman Adam Huber provides depth on the offensive end. Huber has spent the last two years with the program, but unlucky major knee injuries kept him on the sideline. Now the former Canisius College player will appear with the defending-National Champions.
Highlighting the freshman class at defensive middy (DM) is freshman Jared Walls who impressed coach Berkman early on.
“Jared is an outstanding athlete,” coach Berkman said. “He has wide legs, and he’s really fast. He played in a great high school at La Salle [College] High School in Pennsylvania.”
“He’s light-years ahead of where freshmen usually are in terms of team defense and off-ball play.”
After 12 appearances in 2016, junior Troy Miller joins Walls in the tight battle for the number one spot at DM. Coach Berkman compares Miller’s emerging speed to that of Preston Dabbs.
On the defensive end, all SU starters from last year return. Junior defenders Kyle Tucker and Will Nowesnick both come in after receiving Second Team All-American honors last season. Senior defender Aaron Leeds joins the group touting one of the top performances in the National Title game. Coach Berkman calls Leeds “the best-kept secret” on the Sea Gull defense.
In the cage, senior goalkeeper Colin Reymann returns for his final campaign after a season marked by an early injury that held him out the first several games. Healthy and ready-to-go, Reymann looks to lead Salisbury back to the high defensive marks they reached last season.
“This year I would be lying if I didn’t say ‘yeah, we have that chemistry down,’ because some people last year said there were some question marks at the beginning of the season,” Reymann said. “And I think we handled that criticism pretty well.”
Fans will see junior Pax Howard adding to the strong defensive unit after playing mostly LSM last season.
Attackmen is another strong sector for the Sea Gulls with house-hold names like seniors Nate Blondino and Carson Kalama returning. Kalama led Salisbury in goals last season with 64 and finished second on the team in points with 85. Blondino possessed the high mark on the team of 101 points after a 54-goal and 47-assist season.
“This offseason my range has gone from maybe eight yards to 10 to 12 yards,” Kalama said. “So, I’m looking forward to getting those opportunities to see what I can do from a little farther out.”
After replacing the injured Brady Dashiell towards the end of last season, senior attackman Nick Garbarino joins the first line attackers after scoring 29 goals over 21 appearances last season.
A large concern for Salisbury this season is replacing the talent on the offensive middy first line. Stepping up as leaders will be junior Garrett Reynolds and senior Brendan Bromwell. The two combined for 55 goals and 20 assists in 2016.
The upperclassmen are joined by sophomore middy Corey Gwin. Coach Berkman says that the native of Berlin, Md. has grown a bit quicker this offseason, and he looks to make an early impact after tallying two goals on six shots in Salisbury’s season-opening win over Methodist University.
Other than another run at a National Title, Salisbury finds fuel in the one loss they had last season at Sea Gull Stadium in the CAC Championship.
“We definitely want to win that again and beat York [College] a couple times this season. A combination of all that has really given us motivation,” Kalama said.
While an eleventh National Championship may make it seem like the high achievement gets old for coach Berkman, he sees new potential in each new team he coaches each season.
“Each and every year is a new year. It’s a new team. So the objective is to get this group collectively to realize their potential,” coach Berkman said.