MLAX: Berkman notches 500th win at SU as Sea Gulls advance to NCAA Semifinals

By ZACH GILLELAND

Staff Writer

@_zachariahg

No other coach in NCAA lacrosse has accomplished it.

With the victory Wednesday, SU head coach Jim Berkman recorded his 500th career win at Salisbury, becoming the first coach in NCAA lacrosse history to win 500 games with a single program. The Sea Gulls (20-1) advanced to the semifinals of the NCAA Tournament after defeating Cabrini University 17-5.

“I’m very fortunate to have been able to coach all these great players that have been at Salisbury over the years that formed Sea Gull nation,” Berkman said. “I haven’t scored any goals, assists or [ground balls] but I feel very fortunate that I’m able to coach at a great institution that allows us to attract great student athletes.”

Facing a Cavalier team (17-4) that handed the Sea Gulls their only loss of the season, Wednesday’s matchup proved to be a different story.

A defense that at one time gave up four unanswered goals in the fourth quarter during April’s contest, the Salisbury defense swarmed the Cabrini attack, allowing only five goals throughout the game. The maroon and gold forced 21 turnovers and won the ground ball battle 40-27.

“When we went out there from the first walkout, we were all on the same page,” junior defender Will Nowesnick said. “We talked, slid when we needed to, got the ground ball and caused turnovers. We didn’t worry about the personal things, we worried about the team.”

The Sea Gulls continued to find their rhythm on offense, tallying 17 goals off 47 shots. Salisbury has scored 15 or more goals in its past five games and its 17.67 goals-per-game average is good for fourth in the nation.

Senior attacker Nick Garbarino kicked off the scoring less than three minutes into the game. Senior offensive middie Brendan Bromwell shook off two defenders, finding an open Garbarino in front of the crease for an open look.

A minute later senior attacker Adam Huber bounced a shot between the legs of Cabrini freshman goalie Matt Nestler to give SU a 2-0 lead.

Following a Cavalier goal from sophomore attacker Jordan Krug, SU attacker Carson Kalama found the back of the cage after a pretty display of passing found the senior. Kalama scored a game-high six goals off of 10 shots.

Men's lacrosse gets big 17-5 win over Cabrini to advance to the semifinals! #GoGulls

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A team that is reliant on spreading the ball around, the Sea Gulls assisted on 13 of their 17 goals.

“We were getting wide open [shots] in the crease,” Kalama said. “We don’t want the 12-yard shot, we want the [shot] in the crease. I got a few of those thanks to the midfielders.”

The offense kept the pressure on the Cabrini defense throughout, scoring five goals each in the first three quarters. Salisbury showed its depth on offense as nine different players tallied a goal.

Senior attacker Nate Blondino led the offense with seven points. With 129 points on the season, the Leonardtown, Md. native is one point shy of the most points scored by an SU player since Matt Cannone’s 130 mark in 2012.

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The battle between Salisbury and Cabrini just begins as the sun sets on Sea Gull Stadium. Zach Gilleland photo

Although allowing 17 goals, Nestler became a bright spot for the Cavalier defense, saving 13 shots. The freshman, playing in his first NCAA Tournament, is among the young talent on a Cabrini team that will lose only five seniors.

“When I’m having a good game out there, it’s mostly because of [our defense],” Nestler said. “It was definitely a learning experience for me.”

With the victory, the Sea Gulls will face the Big Red of Denison University on Sunday. Both teams faced off in the NCAA Tournament Quarterfinal a season ago, with Salisbury edging an 11-10 win in overtime.

“I’m very proud of our guys, they dominated all facets of the game and played pretty well,” Berkman said. “I think the dent we had in our armor going forward, we definitely made amends tonight.”

Baseball: Sea Gulls head to NCAA Tournament as No. 1 seed in the South Region

By ZACH GILLELAND

Staff Writer

@_zachariahg

Following a two-week layoff since their previous contest, the Salisbury University baseball team now knows its destination in the NCAA Tournament.

Fresh off a Capital Athletic Conference (CAC) Championship, the Sea Gulls (31-9) eye their third College World Series appearance in four seasons. Salisbury will travel 323 miles to Danville, Va. as the No. 1 seed in the South Region.

The Sea Gulls open the regional slate against Roanoke College on Thursday at 11 a.m.

Headlining the region alongside the Sea Gulls is LaGrange College (Ga.). The USA South Conference Champion Panthers (38-4) head into the tournament as the top-ranked team in the country according to D3baseball.com

Below The Flyer breaks down each team in the South Region, in order by their seed.

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The South Region bracket in the NCAA Division III Baseball Tournament. Chris Mackowiak image via NCAA.com

Salisbury: (31-9)

The last time SU played, the maroon and gold upset the then No. 1 Shenandoah Hornets 8-4. The Sea Gulls are red hot heading into the tournament, winners of 17 of their last 19.

Boasting one of the top offenses in the nation, Salisbury is tied for first in the country with 49 home runs. Pitching became a strength for the Sea Gulls after a rough start, holding a 3.78 ERA that is good for second in the CAC.

LaGrange: (38-4)

The No. 2 seed in the region, the Panthers have won eight consecutive games. LaGrange players will have familiarity with the regional site, as the area is home to fellow USA South Conference member Averett University.

Only four losses on the season, two have come from No. 5 Birmingham Southern. LaGrange offers strong offense and pitching, hitting a .330 average at the plate and a 2.69 ERA that is second in the nation.

Rowan: (28-16)

Receivers of an at-large bid, the Profs fell in extra innings in their conference championship game against Ramapo College. Rowan and Salisbury met earlier this season, with the Sea Gulls coming out on top with a 6-2 victory at home.

Pitching has led the way for the Profs this season as the team yields a 3.31 ERA. Although holding a .291 average on offense, the team has hit only nine home runs.

Emory: (27-12)

The Eagles return to the NCAA Tournament one year after falling to Wisconsin-La Crosse in the College World Series. Emory and LaGrange met earlier this season, with the Panthers winning 9-4.

Emory has a perfect 4-0 record in neutral site games this season. Offensively, Emory averages 6.82 runs-per-game and sports a 3.34 ERA.

Otterbein: (31-12)

Winners of seven consecutive games, the Cardinals defeated Mount Union University to win their sixth Ohio Athletic Conference Championship. Otterbein holds a 3-2 record against ranked opponents this season.

Like the Sea Gulls, the Cardinals have showcased their ability to hit the long ball, hitting 35 home runs. Otterbein boasts a .302 average on offensive and their 2.74 ERA ranks third in the nation.

Roanoke: (29-16)

Receiving the Old Dominion Athletic Conference’s (ODAC) automatic bid, the Maroons head to the NCAA Tournament after winning its first conference championship. Roanoke and Salisbury have faced five common opponents this season, with Roanoke holding a 3-7 record against those teams.

The Maroons sport an even .300 average and score 6.67 runs-per-game. The Sea Gulls hold the edge over Roanoke in pitching as the Maroons’ 4.27 ERA ranks fourth in the ODAC.

MLAX: SU rolls past Hampden-Sydney to advance to NCAA quarterfinals

By CHASE GORSKI

Staff Writer

@cgorski12

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SU senior goalie Colin Reymann makes a save vs. Ohio Wesleyan. Hannah Wichrowski photo

The offense led the way as Salisbury (19-1) continued their NCAA Championship repeat-campaign with a dominant 25-12 victory over Hampden-Sydney College (16-6) in the third round of the tournament.

The Sea Gulls started the game in the hole early when a failed clear attempt led to a turnover and a quick goal from Tiger’s junior attacker Connor Pool just 29 seconds into the game.  It was a quick mistake that led to HSC grabbing the momentum and an early 1-0 lead—but that would not last long.

Similar to their second round matchup against Misericordia, where the Gulls conceded the first goal in the first and then rallied to take back the lead, Salisbury went on a seven-goal run in the first quarter.  By the end of the first, the Gulls led by a score of 7-3.

Salisbury kept the pressure on throughout the next two quarters, outscoring the Tigers 15-2 and dominating the battle for possession with ease.  SU head coach Jim Berkman felt that their production on offense was their key to victory.

“I felt that for three quarters our offense was playing at another level as we continue to improve,” Berkman said.  “[They] really know how to play together and be extremely unselfish which led to a lot of easy goals.”

Coach Berkman’s offense was firing on all cylinders on Saturday afternoon with eight different players recording a goal, including big contributions from senior attackers Nathan Blondino and Nick Garbarino.  The two senior stand-outs totaled 20 points between the two of them and continue to be the driving forces on offense.

“We were all on the same page. . .we communicated well,” Blondino said.  “You can shut one guy down but the rest of the five guys are going to do it for each other—the whole offense is complete.”

While the Sea Gulls settled into their usual goal-scoring offense, their stout defense provided HSC with rare chances in front of the net.  Nearly doubling the Tigers’ groundball total and completing 21 of 24 clearing attempts, the Gulls were a brick wall in front of senior goalie Colin Reymann in the cage.

Coach Berkman had used junior defenseman Kyle Tucker in the midfield to eliminate HSC’s top two scoring threats in junior midfielders Chandler Shaheen and Hunter Brown.

“They were virtually taken out of the game. . .that gets you out of your comfort zone; now you can’t do your normal things,” Berkman said.  “Two of their best players were being negated by two of the better defenders in the country.”

The game seemed to be all but over by the start of the fourth quarter after the Sea Gulls had propelled ahead to a commanding 22-5 lead.  The Tigers began to show some life late in the game, scoring seven goals in the final quarter.

Hampden-Sydney junior attacker Ian Levin continued his great individual season by leading the offense with four goals and four assists.  Levin led the Tigers in goals and points this season with 57 and 91 respectively.

“Salisbury’s defense is always good. . .we knew it was going to be a physical game,” Levin said.  “It overwhelmed us at times and the pressure got to us, but like coach said, ‘super proud of our team.’”

The Tigers tallied some goals late in the game after the Gulls made lineup substitutions to boost their confidence, and seemed to get into a better rhythm despite it being too little too late.

“It helps when they sub-out their All-American poles. . .it’s difficult to come up here and play,” Levin said.  “Once we settled in and realized the situation we were in, I think that’s when guys started to just play lacrosse.”

HSC first-year head coach Jason Rostan was incredibly proud of his team’s resilience in the face of the top team in the nation.

“Once you get to the tournament, you have to get through Salisbury, so I felt like it was a great opportunity for us,” coach Rostan said.  “As far as our team’s concerned, couldn’t be more proud of our guys this season.”

The Tigers are already looking forward to their next shot at the Sea Gulls when they will come visit for an exhibition next season.

As for the Sea Gulls, they remain alive and strong in the tournament as one of the final eight who have advanced to the quarterfinals.  After waiting to determine who their opponents would be, it was only right that they would go head-to-head with the team that gave them their only blemish on what could have been a perfect regular season record.

After a big win over Franklin and Marshall by a score of 17-9, Cabrini University sealed the rematch that all of Division III lacrosse will be watching.  In their final game of the regular season, Salisbury was upset on the road in overtime by the Cavaliers 11-10.

Come next Wednesday, Salisbury will be looking to sweeten their trip to the Final Four with redemption against the team that handed them their only loss this year.

MLAX: Sea Gulls blow past Misericordia; roll to NCAA Tournament Third Round

By ZACH GILLELAND

Staff Writer

@_zachariahg

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The Sea Gull defense stood tall once again vs. Misericordia. In photo, No. 7 Sr. LSM Andrew Ternahan, No. 25 Jr. D Kyle Tucker, No. 19 Jr. M Troy Miller. Amy Wojtowicz photo

In SU head coach Jim Berkman’s tenure at Salisbury, each of his teams has won at least one NCAA Tournament game with only one—the 1989 squad in his first season—failing to do so.

The streak lives.

Facing the MAC (Middle Atlantic Conference) Freedom Conference-Champion Misericordia Cougars (13-4), the Sea Gulls (18-1) dominated nearly every statistical category en-route to a 24-3 victory on Wednesday to advance to the third round of the NCAA Tournament.

Even with the commanding victory, Salisbury had its share of struggles.

With a week-and-a-half layoff and facing a defense they had not seen all year, the Sea Gull offense could not get into a rhythm in the first quarter, scoring only two goals. Alternating between both man-to-man and zone defensive units, Misericordia forced Salisbury to take only seven shots in the quarter.

“[We were] just trying to throw a couple of monkey wrenches into a well-oiled machine,” Cougar head coach Jim Ricardo said when discussing his team’s defensive game plan. “Be in it, rotate on defense and try to slow them down.”

Misericordia junior midfielder Jake Kocovsky kicked off the scoring with a man-up goal 10 minutes in. The Cougars outshot the Sea Gulls 10-7 in the first quarter.

“We missed a lot of opportunities in the first quarter,” Berkman said. “We were right on the doorstep several times and we didn’t put the ball in the back of the goal.”

Two minutes later SU senior attacker Carson Kalama tied things up. Kalama added a second goal with four seconds remaining in the first, assisted by a beautiful pass from freshman midfielder Josh Melton.

The offense started to gel in the second quarter, scoring seven goals. The Sea Gull offense controlled possession throughout the quarter, outshooting the Cougars 14-4.

After surrendering the first goal of the game, Salisbury scored 13 unanswered goals.

The Sea Gulls spread the ball around throughout the game, finding the open man and breaking down the defense. The defensive breakdown allowed Kalama and senior attacker Nick Garbarino to find themselves open in front of the crease, allowing for high percentage opportunities.

“Our middies can all feed the ball real well and they all play under control,” Berkman said. “We have six middies that carry the ball like attackmen and all are pretty good shooters. All of them are capable of getting the ball to three of the best finishers in the country.”

Kalama led the team offensively with eight points, which included six goals. Salisbury assisted on 14 of its 24 goals.

“The first quarter we had to feel [the defense] out a little bit,” Kalama said. “In the second quarter we were able to run our offense. Getting back in the game situation, it opened up in the second and third quarters.”

All three Sea Gull attackers—Kalama, Garbarino and senior Nate Blondino—contributed four or more goals. SU outshot Misericordia 52-23, including a 45-13 advantage over the final three quarters.

Contributing to the offense, face-off specialists Duncan Campbell and TJ Logue converted 23 of 31 face-off attempts. Salisbury improved its face-off percentage to a 59.5 percent success rate this season.

“When you have guys like [long-stick middie Andrew Ternahan] and Jeremiah [LaClair], it really helps when those guys come in and clean up,” Campbell said. “We were just focusing on us today and I think it really helped.”

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The Salisbury defense smothered the Misericordia attack, forcing tough shots on difficult angles. The Sea Gulls dominated the groundball battle 52-24 and successfully cleared on 25 of their 27 attempts. At one point, the Cougars went without a goal for almost 27 minutes.

“The game plan is the same every time we go into a game—shut down the opponent, take away what they do best—and we’re always seeming to do that because of our preparation,” junior defender Kyle Tucker said. “Everyone’s together as one unit.”

With the victory, Salisbury advances to the third round of the NCAA Tournament on Saturday. The Sea Gulls will welcome in the Hampden-Sydney Tigers, winners of the Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC).

“It’s an exciting time to be a Gull,” Berkman said. “We look forward to Saturday.”

Sea Gulls’ quest for back-to-back NCAA Championships begins with Misericordia

By ZACH GILLELAND

Staff Writer

@_zachariahg

What: No. 1 Salisbury University men’s lacrosse hosts Misericordia University

When: Wednesday, 4 p.m.

Where: Sea Gull Stadium

How to watch: Sea Gull Sports Network

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Freshman defender Drew Borkowicz (No. 35) and junior defender Kyle Lawlor (No. 47) look on during the CAC Championship Game with SU head coach Jim Berkman in the background. Amy Wojtowciz photo

Salisbury University men’s lacrosse team’s road to its second-straight NCAA Championship starts in Foxboro, Mass. Following Bates’ loss to Middlebury in the semifinal of their conference tournament, the Sea Gulls (17-1, 8-0 CAC) emerge as the top overall seed in the NCAA Tournament.

Salisbury will host the winners of the MAC (Middle Atlantic Conference) Freedom Conference, the Misericordia Cougars. The Cougars (13-3, 7-0) come into Wednesday’s contest fresh off a 9-7 win over Lasell College on Tuesday.

Salisbury: The Sea Gulls received a bye in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, playing host to a neutral site game. Since its 11-10 loss at the sticks of then No. 14 Cabrini, Salisbury has won its last two games by an average of 12.5 goals—including a 15-5 win over York (Pa.) in the Capital Athletic Conference (CAC) Championship game.

Misericordia: Making their first appearance in the NCAA Tournament under MAC Freedom Coach of the Year Jim Ricardo, the Cougars defeated Lasell 9-7 on Tuesday. Leading 6-2 at halftime, Misericordia staved off a five-goal Laser rally to win its first NCAA Tournament game.

Salisbury Offense: With the third-ranked offense in the nation in goals scored, the Sea Gulls possess a potent offensive attack highlighted by senior attacker Nate Blondino, whose 105 points are the most by a Salisbury player since Matt Cannone’s 130 in 2012. Alongside fellow seniors Nick Garbarino, Carson Kalama, Brendan Bromwell and Adam Huber, Salisbury averages almost 17 goals per game.

Depth is the strong point for the maroon and gold. SU boasts nine players that have scored 15 or more goals—including two of the CAC’s top-five goal scorers.

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The road to the Final Four for Salisbury men’s lacrosse. Chris Mackowiak image via NCAA.com

Misericordia Defense: Facing a man-down situation after sophomore goalkeeper Matthew Beck committed a slashing penalty, the Cougars turned to backup Antonio Whyte. With four minutes left and a two-goal lead, Whyte made two key saves to allow Misericordia to advance.

Although Whyte became the hero on Tuesday, Beck is undefeated this season, boasting a 12-0 record in games he starts. Misericordia’s 7.78 goals-against average (GAA) is good for second in the MAC Freedom.

Misericordia Offense: Averaging 12.69 goals per game, the Cougars display the top offense in the MAC Freedom. With a balanced scoring attack with many different options, Misericordia has five players that have scored 23 or more goals.

Junior attacker Chris Fleming leads the team with 56 points. Fleming led the way for the Cougars on Tuesday, contributing four points in the win over Lasell.

Salisbury Defense: Also holding one of the country’s top defensive units, the Sea Gulls are eighth in Division III with a GAA of 6.44. A trio of defenders—Aaron Leeds, Will Nowesnick and Kyle Tucker—were named to All-CAC First Team.

With a defense that has allowed double digit goals only three times this season, Salisbury averages 41 ground balls per game and forces 11.7 turnovers per game.

At the ‘X’: Both teams possess multiple options at the ‘X’. The Sea Gulls hold the edge on face-offs, holding a 58.6 success rate compared to Misericordia’s 51.7 average.

Misericordia Player to Watch: Sophomore goalkeeper Matthew Beck

Beck could have a long day Wednesday facing the nation’s third-best goal-scoring team. Beck has held his on this season, sporting a 57.8 save percentage and 7.20 GAA.

Salisbury Player to Watch: Senior defender Aaron Leeds

Suspended for Salisbury’s CAC semifinal game against Mary Washington, Leeds returned against York, helping the defense surrender only five goals. The senior is third on the team with 51 ground balls and has caused 27 turnovers on the season.

A road to the title now appears: NCAA announces DIII MLAX & WLAX brackets

By CHRIS MACKOWIAK

Sports Editor

@cmackowiakSGSN

After a brief pause for about a week following their respective Capital Athletic Conference (CAC) Championships, the Salisbury men’s lacrosse and women’s lacrosse teams discovered their paths to the National Title during the NCAA DIII Selection Shows Sunday night.

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Salisbury earned the No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Chris Mackowiak image via NCAA.com

Men’s Lacrosse

At a 17-1 overall record, SU men’s lacrosse is the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament. They will seek to repeat as National Champions following their title win over Tufts University in Philadelphia a season ago.

The Sea Gulls will have to wait until Tuesday afternoon to discover their opponent in the second round on Wednesday at a time to be determined. In a Tuesday neutral site first round game at Sea Gull Stadium, Lasell College (13-3, 8-0 GNAC) will battle with Misericordia University (12-3, 6-2 MAC Freedom).

The Lasell Lasers are coming off a tight Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) Championship win over Mount Ida 13-12 on Saturday. The Newton, Mass. school sports an offense that scores 13.13 goals per game, but the team does give up over nine goals per game on the other side of the field.

Misericordia enters the NCAA Tournament as MAC Freedom champions after a 6-1 home victory over Eastern University on Saturday. The Sea Gulls and Cougars do share a common opponent during the regular season: the Methodist Monarchs. Salisbury defeated Methodist 21-2 in their 2017 opener, while the Cougars struggled with the Monarchs, falling 13-12 in overtime during a neutral-site contest.

Misericordia scores just under 13 goals per game, and the team gives up under eight goals per game. A meeting with either of these schools would be a first in Salisbury program history.

From the CAC, York College (Pa.) received an at-large bid into the NCAA Tournament.

As the No. 1 seed in the tournament, Salisbury would host any games they play in the rest of the tournament, other than the National Championship game, which will be held in Foxboro, Mass. If the Sea Gulls advance to the third round, they will host a game Saturday.

Women’s Lacrosse

On the women’s lacrosse side, the Sea Gulls were not as fortunate, despite taking the CAC crown last Saturday with their 15th consecutive conference championship. Salisbury (13-5, 7-1 CAC) will hit the road to start the NCAA Tournament.

The Sea Gulls will move up to Clinton, N.Y. to Hamilton College to face Regis College (Mass.). The Pride (15-4, 8-0 NECC) took the New England Collegiate Conference (NECC) crown on Saturday with a 15-13 win over Elms. The Weston, Mass. school is strong on both ends of the field, averaging over 13 goals per game alongside a defense that lets in under seven goals per game.

If Salisbury gets by Regis, they would face the host school of Hamilton College (12-5, 8-2 NESCAC). The Continentals are coming off a tough NESCAC Tournament where Hamilton fell 12-3 in the semifinals to Trinity (Conn.).

The two schools share one common opponent in Colby College. The Sea Gulls defeated Colby 6-5 in a neutral-site game earlier this season, while the Continentals also took them down 8-5 in their 2017 open. Through a tough schedule, Hamilton averages just 9.57 goals per game and holds a 7.59 goals-against average.

From the CAC, both York College (Pa.) and the University of Mary Washington both received at-large bids into the tournament.

In the end, Salisbury’s solid strength of schedule hurt their chances of hosting. The Sea Gulls are 4-5 this season against ranked opponents. However, SU is battle-tested and may be peaking at the right moment.

Stay tuned with The Flyer for updates on both SU lacrosse teams as they trek towards a hopeful end in Foxboro, Ma. during the last weekend in May. For the interactive NCAA Division III online brackets, visit here for men’s lacrosse, and here for women’s lacrosse.

Not letting off the gas pedal: SU MLAX prepares for mission to reach Boston

By CHRIS MACKOWIAK

Sports Editor

@cmackowiakSGSN

Drill for 12 minutes, scrimmage for 12 minutes. Drill for 12 minutes, scrimmage for 12 minutes.

After winning their third Capital Athletic Conference (CAC) Championship in the last four years, the Salisbury men’s lacrosse team (17-1, 8-0 CAC) continues the daily grind at practice each day with the NCAA Tournament coming in the middle of next week.

“There’s no down time. There’s a lot of playing, but there’s a lot of things we’re still working on in the drills. You get some fun to play full field. They’ll be a tired unit [later] because that’ll be two hours and 20 minutes of up and down the field in a variety of things,” SU head coach Jim Berkman said.

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Senior face-off specialist Duncan Campbell (No. 5) and junior defensive middie Jeremiah LaClair (No. 42) fight for the ground ball following a face-off in the CAC Championship. Amy Wojtowicz photo

The focus and intensity must stay up for the Sea Gulls following their 15-5 victory over then-No.4 York College (Pa.) last Saturday. It was a commanding 11-1 lead for Salisbury over the Spartans at the halftime of the contest.

“We were just playing as a unit collectively. We were all on the same page. We knew what was on the table and what was at stake after last year. We wanted to come out and just put on a show, and we did just that,” senior goalkeeper Colin Reymann said.

That same confidence was in play on the field last Saturday as the Sea Gulls’ strong defense gave up only one goal on 11 shots to the Spartans in the first half of action. In addition, the SU offense opened the contest on an 11-0 run. Converting four goals on seven man-up opportunities and going a perfect 23-for-23 on attempted clears paved the way for the 2017 title.

“We just played really well. We played good in all aspects, but I also thought that we were extremely hungry on the groundball and we definitely won that battle, which led to some easy goals,” Berkman said.

With the two top defenses in the CAC on display, it was atypical to see such a disparity in groundballs with the Sea Gulls dominating the category 41-21 over York (Pa.). Salisbury’s physicality showed through alongside victories on 16 of 23 face-offs.

Leading the offensive charge for Salisbury was captain and senior attacker Nate Blondino, who tallied three goals and five assists for a total of eight points in the game. The CAC Player of the Year surpassed the 100-point mark for the second consecutive season with his eight in the victory. With his current number of 105 points in 2017, it is the most points in a season tallied by a Sea Gull since 2012 when attacker Matt Cannone finished with 130.

“Nate has continued to get better every year. He’s a complete player, a great feeder, a good shooter, a good finisher, a good rider—he’s just a great all-around attackman, and that’s been the evolution over the last few years,” Berkman said.

As a 2016 USILA Second Team All-American, Blondino sees the feats of his teammates before his own.

“I’d really just like to thank all of the guys around me. Without them, it wouldn’t be possible to do things like that and a majority of [my points] are assists, so that comes from other guys finishing the ball. They’re really getting it done,” Blondino said.

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Senior attacker Nate Blondino tries to break free of a CNU defender earlier this season. Hannah Wichrowski photo

For Blondino, practice made perfect for the CAC Championship Game. That may be the hope for Salisbury headed into the final stretch of the 2017 postseason.

“I thought we had a great week of practice the week before. We were focused all week, and we really didn’t want to let up and let what happened last year happen again. We were coming out of the gates firing. I thought we really just executed our game plan,” Blondino said.

With about a week-and-a-half break between in-game action for Salisbury, the mission is to stay focused prior to their opening round NCAA action. This might be easier said than done.

Over the years, one underestimated advantage the Salisbury men’s lacrosse program has over others may just be their consistent appearances in the postseason, which offers more time on the field for not only the veteran stars, but also the next wave of talent to play in Sea Gull Stadium.

“This time is really good for the younger players. [Compared to] the teams that are home and not playing because their seasons are over, there’s a lot of younger players here that are getting three or more weeks of practice to work and to get better, which I think has always been a key for our program,” Berkman said.

This factor could prove to be very important for SU, considering the amount of talent and veteran leadership they are losing heading into the 2018 season.

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The SU defense stood tall vs. York (Pa.), allowing only five goals to an offense that scored over 14 per game this season. (In photo: No. 11 senior defender Will Nowesnick, No. 26 senior goalkeeper Colin Reymann, No. 44 senior defender Aaron Leeds) Amy Wojtowicz photo

With many full-field scrimmages and various drills, Berkman feels he has the right recipe to keep the Gulls on track toward their attempt to obtain a return trip to the final, which is in Boston this season. At the same time, with no opponent on the docket yet, the team has a chance to refine their own skills and crafts.

“We’ve had a chance to work some new wrinkles in. We’ve also had a chance to go back and do some fundamental work with the one-on-one’s and the two-on-two’s,” coach Berkman said.

Opponents may not want to see any more surprises or ‘wrinkles’ from Salisbury with the team seeing high national marks on both sides of the ball. SU is fifth in the nation in scoring offense at 16.94 goals per game, and their defense is good for eighth at 6.44 goals-against average.

With only one loss on the season, currently ranked No. 2 in the nation in both major polls and ranked No. 2 in the South Region in last week’s NCAA Regional Rankings, Salisbury is lined up to claim one of the top seeds in the NCAA Tournament. The Sea Gulls will discover who their potential opponents are when the NCAA holds their online selection show Sunday night at 9 p.m.

“We know we’re gonna have a tough five games to repeat, so we gotta stay focused for the next week-and-a-half, which we’ve been doing so far. We’ve had a great few days of practice, so we just have to continue that until next Wednesday,” Blondino said.

Salisbury WLAX ready to bring defensive intensity into NCAAs next week

By CHRIS MACKOWIAK

Sports Editor

@cmackowiakSGSN

After a 10-6 regular season loss at York College (Pa.) back on April 12, a Capital Athletic Conference (CAC) Championship looked bleak for the Salisbury women’s lacrosse team as the title game then ran through York, Pa.

However, the sun shined brightly on the soaring Sea Gulls that day as they raised their fifteenth consecutive conference championship alongside head coach Jim Nestor. A dominant second half marked the 7-2 win over the top-seeded Spartans, in which Salisbury went on a 4-0 run over the final 30 minutes of play.

“I think we’ve just switched our defense up over the last few weeks and it’s been really working. We just dominated the entire second half. We just work really well together in this defense with ‘the backer.’ It’s gone really well,” SU senior defender Kayla Miller said.

One change in scheme on defense may have paved the way to a CAC Championship for the Sea Gulls: ‘the Backer.’

“We just saw the whole level of intensity come out much higher with that defense,” coach Nestor said.

Following a tough 0-2 final week of the regular season, the Salisbury coaching staff saw the opportunity for change on the defensive side of the ball. In their final two games against then-ranked No. 1 TCNJ and No. 7 York, the Sea Gulls gave up 10 and then 6 goals respectively.

An already strong defense got an upgrade with the new ‘backer’ strategy. This scheme mainly involves an additional defender following closely to the ball while an opposing player is in possession. The additional defender covers a few feet back from the defender directly ‘on-ball.’ In essence, the additional defender covers any potential gaps, or runners that may appear in front of the cage.

With a defender on a separate assignment, one offensive player is left open. However, this specific open offensive player is always designed to be the player directly across the fan in the opposition’s offensive set. This ends in a low-chance for the opposing offense to find this player.

Another bonus of this defensive style is that double teams can quickly be utilized when opposing offenses bring attackers in possession behind the cage.

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The Sea Gulls sprint in transition after winning a face-off vs. St. Mary’s (Md.). No. 19 junior middie Allison Hynson is in possession. Hannah Wichrowski photo

Coach Nestor says he had the thought to try something new following the loss to TCNJ. After the new defensive scheme worked extremely well against Mary Washington in the CAC Semifinals, an 11-5 SU win, the head coach kept it in the game plan for the CAC Championship Game.

“In those last couple games, our defense really sparked our offense: creating turnovers, giving us more [ground] balls, but for the whole week that led into [the CAC Championship Game] we were talking about possession too,” coach Nestor said.

“We had to be more aggressive on our groundballs. We had to be more aggressive on that draw control.”

That the Sea Gulls did, winning the ground ball battle 11-9 and splitting the draws 5 vs. 6 with York. Now with the NCAA Tournament on the horizon, Salisbury looks to keep momentum rolling in practice this week to prepare for the opponent ahead. For Miller, the team has not let up a beat, getting down to business right away.

“Coach [Nestor] does a good job keeping us focused. We’re gonna be having fun out here, but we need to be getting better at the same time. So he does a really good job at mixing both of those to keep us focused because it is a long two weeks,” Miller said.

After the CAC Championship on Saturday, the Sea Gulls will not see game action until May 13 at the earliest. That is a two week gap and the largest between games for the team all season.

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No. 21 Junior attacker Emma Wall tries to split a double team vs. St. Mary’s (Md.).  Hannah Wichrowski photo

With an automatic berth under their belt via the conference title, the Sea Gulls know they are in the tournament, but now it is a matter of staying fresh and keeping up the intensity.

“At practice, we’re making it as intense as possible to prepare so that if a team does run [a backer] we can know what we’re doing and how to break it down,” coach Nestor said.

New defensive schemes from SU’s own defense allows Salisbury’s offense to adjust and learn what they might see down the line in the NCAA Tournament from unfamiliar opponents.

“We’re looking at other teams and saying ‘okay these four teams run this type of a defense, but there’s a little twist to their defense,’ so we’ll throw it in with our defense so our offense is prepared,” coach Nestor said.

The Sea Gulls will continue to practice and refine their new strategies this week until they find out their opponent Sunday night. At 9:30 p.m. Sunday, the NCAA will hold their Division III Women’s Lacrosse Selection Show, where they will reveal the field and whether Salisbury will host a few games or not.

Until they find out their opening round opponent, fans will see the Sea Gulls continue to work on their own craft out in Sea Gull Stadium. Away from the technicalities inside the success of a defensive scheme, the greatest change for the team in the conference tournament may have been just that: playing together as a team.

“We just played as a team and you could obviously see it out there,” Miller said.

Editor’s note: Embrace history in the present

By CHRIS MACKOWIAK

Sports Editor

@cmackowiakSGSN

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Fans look on as the Salisbury men’s basketball team battles with York College (Pa.). Amy Wojtowicz photo

Records are made to be broken. Whether positive or negative, the Salisbury Athletics programs saw their fair share of records over the last two semesters.

These records, which span Salisbury programs, the Capital Athletic Conference (CAC) and even the national blueprint, came and went as we moved forward through the calendar year.

Building from day one in Sea Gull Stadium and culminating in a win against Wesley College, SU men’s lacrosse head coach Jim Berkman’s five-hundredth career win marked a momentous event in both Salisbury lure and the sport’s history. He’s now the winningest head coach in NCAA lacrosse history at any level.

Moving over to the baseball diamond, the SU baseball field has seen fantastic moments over its history. It is never easy to say goodbye.

But a strong way to say it is a second-straight CAC Championship and an eighteenth-straight NCAA Tournament appearance. SU head coach Troy Brohawn and the Sea Gulls rode a hot streak all the way, averaging 20.5 runs per game and outscoring opponents 82-17 over the course of the conference tournament.

With the chapter closing on the SU baseball field, Salisbury will open their brand new facility next season on the site of the current intramural fields.

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The SU baseball rebounded from a 2-4 start to 2017 to finish with a 31-9 overall record and a CAC Championship. Hannah Wichrowski photo.

On the negative side, both the Salisbury women’s lacrosse and softball teams hit rough patches at times in 2017. With those rough patches came the fall of two mighty streaks.

Heading into their match-up vs. York (Pa.) in the regular season, the Salisbury women’s lacrosse team, under head coach Jim Nestor, boasted a 101-game CAC regular season win streak. Following that day, the Sea Gulls needed to restart their successes, when the Spartans took down Salisbury 10-6 in a battle of the conference’s top two squads.

For Salisbury softball, major successes have come under head coach Margie Knight as she has led the way. However, 2017 has not boded so well for the Sea Gulls. At 21-17, it is the most losses in a season under coach Knight, and it may just end up as the second season that Salisbury does not make the NCAA Tournament under Knight, who has coached the Sea Gulls since 1997.

Not only just the spring sports, but also fall and winter sports have seen their own recent streaks, such as the Salisbury men’s basketball team travelling to their third consecutive NCAA Tournament this past season, a first in the program’s history.

At times, it is a marvel to wonder how successful one school can be across a variation of so many sports. Salisbury is one of those few schools that can celebrate their winning mentality and passionate determination across a wide field of venues and sports.

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SU was on top of the CAC lacrosse world in 2017, winning the championship in both men’s and women’s lacrosse. Zach Gilleland photo

With this winning mentality, which has developed into consistency, comes these streaks and records which really can amaze and inspire people. While teams can embrace it as the evil empire, as Salisbury men’s lacrosse runs onto the field with the Star Wars Imperial March, they also showcase what it means to be a Sea Gull, to fly high and achieve as a team.

The only advice with this is to embrace it while here at Salisbury. Embrace the history and embrace the work past and present players and coaches are putting or have put in on this campus.

There is not a better time than right now to spend time on East Campus on these warm weekends and afternoons. New facilities are rising quite often now.

The new SU Soccer Complex will grace Salisbury Athletics next fall, welcoming in the men’s and women’s soccer teams for their next campaigns. The new SU baseball field will join the new facility beside it for the 2018 spring season coming up next year.

In addition to these, rumors of an SU fieldhouse continue to circulate the campus as Maggs Physical Activities Center stands as hallowed ground.

But before these new updates come well down the road, embrace the history—be able to say that you were there. While some streaks and records have fallen back into Salisbury history, new ones remain to be built. The everyday game can become something magical.

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A packed crowd watched as Salisbury football opened their 2016 season vs. Albright College last fall. Megan Findle photo

Friday, Sept. 2: sophomore wide receiver Sean Rowland returns the opening kick-off 92 yards for a touchdown vs. Albright College in the season-opener. Saturday, Dec. 17: junior forward Chad Barcikowski hits a half-court buzzer-beater, sending it into viral history as the Sea Gulls took down Christopher Newport.

Magic can happen at any moment in an average game. Make the effort to get out to a game. Enjoy time with friends and cheer on the fellow classmates.

Division III makes the difference. The student-athletes are everyday students, battling for the A on that test and then hitting the practice fields for a late afternoon shift prior to a Saturday afternoon game.

Support the players, support the students, support the Sea Gulls.

Local NFL teams strike gold in 2017 NFL Draft

By ZACH GILLELAND

Staff Writer

@_zachariahg

This is one of the best times to be a football fan; the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft came and went Thursday.

What makes the NFL Draft so great? Is it the dreams of future players becoming a reality as they walk across the stage?

Or is it the wheeling and dealing of general managers in hopes of filling out their roster for a possible Super Bowl run?

One thing is for certain: we fans will glue ourselves to the television and scream and holler with any bad choice or when the player meant to be the savior of their franchise gets taken by the team in front of them. We live for it.

Some things were expected—the deafening boos of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell by fans in Philadelphia. But the most unexpected thing had to be the trades that netted three teams their quarterback of the future.

Below, The Flyer breaks down the first round selections by the Salisbury area’s three most popular teams: the Philadelphia Eagles, Baltimore Ravens and Washington Redskins.

Philadelphia Eagles: DE Derek Barnett, Tennessee

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Eagles DE Derek Barnett – Frederick Breedon/Getty Images via profootballfocus.com

Finishing 7-9 last season, the Eagles made great strides under rookie quarterback Carson Wentz. They paid a price to get him, sending five picks to Cleveland.

Luckily for Philadelphia, drafting Wentz created a surplus at quarterback. That allowed the Eagles to trade Sam Bradford to the Vikings in exchange for Minnesota’s first-round selection.

A crazy scene unfolded as Philly fans in attendance cheered the entire time the Eagles were on the clock. Missing out on the top-three wide receivers in the draft, Philadelphia selected defensive end Derek Barnett out of Tennessee.

A mixed reaction with more boos than cheers, Barnett should help bolster a pass rush that ranked tied for sixteenth in the NFL with 34 sacks. After whiffing on the selection of Marcus Smith of Louisville a few years prior, Barnett provides a compliment to pass rusher Brandon Graham.

The first-team All-SEC selection finished his junior season with 56 tackles and 14 sacks. His 33 sacks over three seasons is first all-time in Volunteer history.

Barnett broke Reggie White’s sack record at Tennessee and fans would like to have another White. But it will be a matter of time before Philly fans get to see their pick suit up in the green and black.

Ravens: CB Marlon Humphrey, Alabama

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Ravens DB Marlon Humphrey – withthefirstpick.com

General Manager Ozzie Newsome goes back to his roots as the Ravens select another Alabama player. Since Newsome took over as GM in 2002, Baltimore has selected six players from his alma mater.

With Jonathan Allen still available, many thought the Ravens would go with the defensive lineman, especially in the wake of the Timmy Jernigan trade. Other options included Allen’s teammates at Alabama such as linebacker Reuben Foster, offensive tackle Cam Robinson and tight end OJ Howard.

But selecting Humphrey helps an obvious need, as the Ravens have a hole across from Jimmy Smith. Wide receiver is another need for the purple and black, but with three of the top receiving prospects selecting in the top-ten, reaching for a pass catcher was not a viable option.

The heart and soul of Baltimore has always been the defense. The Ravens signed safety Tony Jefferson in free agency to help the secondary, and Humphrey should step in and help a pass defense ranked ninth in passing yards allowed.

A part of a stout Alabama defense, the redshirt sophomore finished his 2016 campaign with 36 tackles and two interceptions.

Redskins: DE Jonathan Allen, Alabama

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Redskins DE Jonathan Allen – Wesley Hitt/Getty Images via bleacherreport.com

In what could be the steal of the draft, the Redskins bolster their front seven in defensive lineman Jonathan Allen. Allen ranked second on ESPN’s Mel Kiper’s big board but fell to Washington at 17.

In what could be the team’s most glaring need, Washington addresses a run defense that gave up the ninth-most rushing yards in the league at 1916 (119.75 per game). With the offense leading the way for a team that just missed the playoffs last season, the defense needed some help.

Many were interested to see what the Redskins would do in their first draft after firing GM Scott McCloughan. But after obtaining the second-ranked player with the seventeenth overall pick, Washington may have made one of the best selections in the first round.

A reason that Allen may have fallen that late into draft could be questions about the defensive end’s shoulders. Both of his shoulders have mild or moderate arthritis, a condition that could affect his NFL career.

But there is no denying the numbers Allen put up at Alabama. In 2016, the senior produced 69 tackles, 10.5 sacks and gathered honors as a unanimous All-American.

Adding to his accolades, Allen received the Bronko Nagurski and Chuck Bednarik Awards, given to the nation’s top defensive player, and the Lombardi Award, which is given to the nation’s top defensive lineman or linebacker.

There had been rumblings that the Redskins would trade quarterback Kirk Cousins in the draft and try to obtain another signal caller. The Browns, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, tried to make a move for Cousins, but Washington stayed put.

It can be easy to say which team won the draft in April. But fans will find out this season whether their team may have made the right choice.