By BRAD KELLY
What: No. 1 Salisbury men’s lacrosse hosts No. 12 Ohio Wesleyan Battling Bishops
Where: Sea Gull Stadium
When: Sunday, Mar. 5 at 12 p.m.
How to Watch: Sea Gull Sports Network
The top-ranked Salisbury University men’s lacrosse team is no stranger to facing the best of the best each season, and that will not change as the team welcomes in North Coast Athletic Conference (NCAC) powerhouse Ohio Wesleyan. The Gulls held on for a 13-12 win against the Bishops last season, but over the last two seasons, the two teams have split the match-up.
Salisbury: The Sea Gulls are 4-0 this season, even though some have raised concerns over their tighter margins of victory in their wins over Lynchburg College and Montclair State. While they have eked out those wins, the fact remains that they continue to come out on top. The Bishops always seem to play the Gulls tough, however, so Sunday’s matchup should be interesting once again.
Gulls Offensive Outlook: As of the game against Montclair State, the Gulls’ attack has nearly doubled their opponents’ shots on goal, making it 80-41. They have outscored the competition 39-17 over that span, led by senior attacker Carson Kalama with nine goals and freshmen Josh Melton with five goals. The Gulls will look to continue to attack the net with a barrage of shots early and often against the Bishops.
Gulls Defensive Outlook: While the name of the game is to score more goals than the other team, the Gulls’ defense has been stellar this season. The Gulls’ have forced 39 turnovers as of the game against Montclair State, led by senior long-stick middie Andrew Ternahan, senior defenseman Aaron Leeds, and junior defenseman Will Nowesnick, who each have created six turnovers each. Senior goalkeeper Colin Reymann continues to be an anchor in the cage, making 21 stops against 64 shots this season while only surrendering 15 goals.
Meeting at the “X”: Too often than not, lacrosse games are won in the trenches or the “X.” The Gulls have had notable success in the face-off department, with senior middie Duncan Campbell winning 30 of his 43 chances and sophomore middie T.J. Logue going 12-21. The Gulls have won 66 percent of their face-offs, leading to the continual onslaught of shots that the team has deployed.
Player to watch: Senior attacker Nathan Blondino.
Blondino leads the team in shots on goal with 26 and assists with six. He is facilitating and creating scoring chances, so if the Gulls want to continue their success, they will rely on him.
Ohio Wesleyan Bishops: The Bishops suffered a hard-fought loss to open their season against the No. 2 ranked Rochester Institute of Technology, 12-11. They rebounded nicely by drubbing the Otterbein Cardinals by a score of 20-5, so the team will be a formidable opponent as they look to climb the Division III rankings.
Bishops Offensive Outlook: The Bishops average 15 goals per game, and they have also nearly doubled their opponent’s shots on goal, 60-31, this season. Their offense flows through sophomore attacker Max Tennant, who leads the team with six goals and 22 shots. The Bishops also have four players tied with three goals, but it is clear that the Gulls’ focus will be on stopping Tennant.
Bishops Defensive Outlook: Through two games this season, the Bishops have created 17 turnovers. Junior defenseman Bradford Marcotte leads the team with four caused turnovers, while sophomore middie Conor Caffrey and Tennant rank right behind him with three. The Bishops rely on freshman goalie Joey Sichenzia, who has made 14 saves on 30 shots on goal this season.
The “X”: One area that the Gulls will look to exploit is at the face-off. The Bishops have gone 23 of 55 so far this season in face-offs, which amounts to only a 42% success rate. If the Bishops plan to create consistent offense, it starts with trying to win more at the “X.”
Player to watch: Sophomore attacker Max Tennant
No surprise here. Tennant is far and away the one consistent force for the Bishops’ offense. The sophomore leads the team in shots and goals. He has double the shots on goal as the next player, and if the Bishops plan to come out on top, he will have to find the back of the net often.