Berkman career win mark just a step towards greater goal

By CHRIS MACKOWIAK

Sports Editor

@cmackowiakSGSN

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After a game-winning overtime goal from senior offensive middie Brendan Bromwell, the Sea Gulls celebrate a win over then-No. 6 Gettysburg College. Hannah Wichrowski photo

SU men’s lacrosse senior face-off specialist Duncan Campbell scoops up a groundball and rushes toward York’s side of the field. The senior fakes a pass and rips a shot into the lower frame of the goal. 1-0 Gulls.

Last week marked one of the most highly anticipated matches of 2017. No. 1 Salisbury hosted No. 3 York (Pa.) in the considered Capital Athletic Conference (CAC) regular season title game.

From Campbell’s opening goal—his first of the season—the Sea Gulls’ offense showcased their talents in front of a national audience to win 17-10 and claim home-field advantage in the upcoming conference tournament.

The Sea Gulls are soaring into the CAC Championship Game on Saturday with a 16-1 overall record. However, it was one win recently that rose above them all for this team, one step in the greater road to a second-straight National Championship.

Back on March 29 up Route 13 at Wesley College, SU men’s lacrosse head coach Jim Berkman struck gold, and some maroon too, with career win No. 500 in a 26-4 victory. With 11 National Championships, 19 conference titles and 28 National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) appearances all under his belt, this particular victory has been a long time coming for the historic head coach.

“All the work he’s put in over the years—it shows year after year, and I’m glad that I could be a part of it,” SU senior goalkeeper Colin Reymann said.

In all of those accolades, coach Berkman sees the hard work that so many players and coaches have put in alongside him on and off the field.

“It’s just a tribute to all the players and coaches that have been here over the last 29 years and how hard they’ve worked to make this all possible,” coach Berkman said. “It’s something to honor their efforts and success over the last 29 years. I just happen to be the guy that’s running the ship.”

“It’s definitely a very special moment for him, and he’s humble about it the whole time. All the credit goes out to him in his 20-plus seasons in lacrosse and at Salisbury,” SU senior attacker Carson Kalama said.

It is the humbling quality that may provide the greatest foundation for such a successful men’s lacrosse program. It seems fitting that this honor comes after a 2016 season that saw much adversity towards the start of NCAA Tournament play. In 2017, coach Berkman also faced a key mentor in his life: Gettysburg head coach Hank Jancyk, who has accumulated over 420 wins in his long career.

All but one season of coaching—at the State University of New York (SUNY) at Potsdam—have been here at Salisbury for coach Berkman. Since then, the former All-American midfielder at St. Lawrence has capitalized on his time at Salisbury, using his numerous experiences at different stops along the way.

As one of his favorite moments, coach Berkman fondly remembers his first title at Salisbury, facing Hobart College in 1994. One that matches that memory is the 2008 National Title that he had the opportunity to win with his son Kylor, a three-time National Midfielder of the Year.

“He was a guy that made a big impact to our program. He didn’t go Division I, and he stayed here,” coach Berkman said. “He won a couple championships and played in three championship games.”

The maroon and gold continues to run very deep in the Berkman family. His daughter Keli was a member of the 2010 Salisbury women’s lacrosse team that won a National Title under current head coach Jim Nestor.

Berkman’s Salisbury imprint stretches beyond Sea Gull Stadium into the SU Soccer Complex, leading the SU women’s soccer program for seven seasons and to two CAC Championships.

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SU freshman attacker Josh Melton tries to round the corner vs. the CNU defense. Hannah Wichrowski photo

For the many players that have played under Berkman and walked the tunnel walk, they feel an impact from their head coach, making them both better players and better people. The culture that Berkman has developed trickles even to the players today.

“I feel like there’s role models to look up to in every class, even some of the younger guys on our team you can look up to at times,” Reymann said. “We just have a great culture.”

At the core, it is the hard-work ethic that has created the foundation for many of Berkman’s players.

“He’s taught us many things that relate to lacrosse, but importantly, [about] being a better man. On and off the field, I think one of the biggest lessons that he’s taught me is that effort equals outcome,” Kalama said.

Within the future playoff games, there may lie yet another milestone for the head coach: 500 wins just at Salisbury University. It is a milestone that the seniors are keeping an eye on, and it may align with an early round of the NCAA Tournament.

At the end of the day for Berkman and his Sea Gulls, the win at Wesley is just that—a win on the road to greater prizes: a CAC Championship and then potentially a trip to Boston in late May.

“Anything that results in us doing our jobs on a day-to-day basis is just icing on the cake,” coach Berkman said.

While this men’s lacrosse program enjoyed a brief celebration on a Wednesday night in March, their hunger grows for greater rewards from the top work ethic that coach Berkman teaches his players each and every day.

From weak link to cornerstone: Sea Gulls’ pitching staff

By CHASE GORSKI

Staff Writer

@cgorski12

Note to readers: this article was originally published prior to the 2017 CAC Tournament.

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SU junior pitcher Brad Keith delivers a pitch from the mound earlier this season. Sophie Wilson photo

When the Salisbury baseball team’s 2016 playoff run was cut short following a loss to Penn State Berks in the Mid-Atlantic Regional, it left a bitter taste in the mouths of all the would-be returners.

The dominant offense that was known throughout last season for averaging almost 10 runs per game had hit a cold streak at the worst time, scraping across just eight runs in three regional matchups. The lack of production, combined with continued struggles on the mound, gave SU an early exit from the NCAA tournament and a long offseason to ponder what could have been.

But the Sea Gulls had their work cut out for them preparing for their 2017 campaign. It was no question that their formidable offense would return strong.

All eyes would be on the pitching staff after recording the second-worst ERA in the Capital Athletic Conference (CAC) at 6.50 and struggling for the majority of the season. Junior right-hander Connor Reeves, a go-to reliever for the Sea Gulls, was a part of the returning bullpen that knew they needed to improve.

“We needed a little bit of everything for this year,” Reeves said. “We really weren’t that strong in relief or starting.”

With a handful of returners, Salisbury was poised to have a comeback year on the mound, especially behind two strong returning seniors in Pete Grasso and Jeff Oster. Both Oster and Grasso were two of the top Sea Gull starters last season, but saw room for improvement in endurance of the starting pitchers.

“We would always start off five innings strong,” Oster said. “But then, in the late innings, giving up two or three runs that would let teams back in the game.”

Using the motivation from the end of last season, the pitchers went to work preparing for the upcoming season. SU head coach Troy Brohawn started the year issuing a challenge to his staff, telling his pitchers they needed to be better this year if the team was going to succeed.

In the beginning of the season, it was a new year, but the same Gulls, with the pitching staff showing similar flaws from the previous season in their first seven games, allowing double-digit runs to opponents in five of those seven. Salisbury began the year with an underwhelming 7.43 ERA and a 3-4 record.

The Sea Gulls were not going to let this be the story of their season again. Following a four-game stretch of losses in mid-February, the pitching staff met to address the recent struggles and to figure out their next steps.

“We didn’t want to be the weak part of the team,” Grasso said. “We had a meeting after those games, and we really came together and said ‘we don’t want to be the weak link of the team.’”

Fast forward to the middle of April, and the Sea Gulls stand at the top of the CAC standings with a 24-8 record. While the offense has produced this year by averaging over eight runs per game, it is the once shaky pitching staff that has formed into the backbone of the squad.

Salisbury holds the second-lowest ERA in the CAC as a team at 3.31 with multiple pitchers recording sub-3.00 ERAs as well. The statistical improvements from last season are numerous, from a better team ERA to lowering opponents’ batting average from over .300 last season to just .235 this year.

“With three seniors leading the staff this year, experience plays a big role,” coach Brohawn said. “We had a young staff last year and they’ve learned from it; I think as a staff in general we are more aggressive this year.”

Those three seniors—Micah Wells, Oster and Grasso—have certainly stepped up to coach Brohawn’s challenge and are not taking anything for granted in their final year.

“All the alumni always say ‘don’t regret anything for your final season,’ so coming into my last year I never wanted to regret something,” Oster said. “It’s my last season and I don’t want to leave anything out there; I think it’s the same for [Pete] and [Micah].”

Oster has been the top starter that coach Brohawn has turned to so far this season, getting the nod nine times and recording a 5-0 record and posting the fifth-best individual ERA in the CAC at 2.91 while also holding opposing batters to an average of .204.

Grasso, a two-way athlete for Salisbury, has been as dominant as ever on the mound this season and holds a CAC-best 1.38 ERA throughout his 11 appearances with a 5-0 record as well.

“I’ve been pitching more to contact this year, last year I would get deeper in counts and it would be 3-2 every batter I faced,” Grasso said. “Now I attack early and let them hit it and our defense makes the plays.”

Other than the Sea Gull standouts, the entire pitching staff has bought into the new aggressive mentality, relying on their mental toughness to help them succeed. The mentality of each SU pitcher has played a big role in the improvements from last year, as well as their work ethic.

“I’ve been here for five years now, and this is the hardest working staff I’ve been around,” Oster said. “We work hard every single day in practice and it’s been showing.”

With the CAC tournament coming up soon, Salisbury seems to be getting hot at just the right time on the mound, with starters putting forth countless quality starts and relievers slamming the door when they enter the late innings.

Coach Brohawn knows exactly who he will rely on down the home stretch of the season.  Aside from their top performers, Sea Gull fans can expect to see continued success from bullpen guys such as juniors Ryan Gough, Andrew Kramer and Logan Manz.

“We’ll probably go with a six- or seven-man staff through the tournament and role with it through that,” Brohawn said. “We’re going to rely on [Wells, Oster and Grasso] to continue to set the tone early and hopefully the guys behind them can follow their lead.”

The dominant pitching staff that has formed this season for Salisbury has been exactly what the program has needed, and each member has a few ideas on why this year is the one where everything has fallen into place.

Some attribute it to the closeness of each of the guys on the team, stating that the atmosphere in the pitching staff has improved greatly. Others feel it is the competitive nature teamed with the snowball effect, where the young pitchers see the seniors performing at peak levels and they want to out-do them.

No matter the reason, this is a different effect of that meeting called back in February, and now the pitching staff has turned themselves into the strongest part of this Sea Gull team. With the postseason right around the corner, the timing could not be better and, from the looks of it, the best is yet to come.

“Our confidence is through the roof—we’re going to run through [CACs],” Grasso said.

With a mentality like that, the enthusiasm becomes contagious, and it is clear to see that everyone on the pitching staff is on the same page.

“With our staff that we have and our starters, it’s probably the top in the nation and we are going to go out there and give our team the best chance to win,” Oster said. “We’re looking to run through the CAC, going through the Regionals and hopefully winning some games in the World Series.”

MLAX: SU set to host CAC title after 22-9 win over UMW

By ZACH GILLELAND

Staff Writer

@_zachariahg

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SU sophomore offensive middie Corey Gwin makes an offensive run vs. Montclair State. Amy Wojtowicz photo

Following a 22-9 win over Mary Washington in the Capital Athletic Conference (CAC) Semifinals on Saturday, the rematch is set.

A date between the top-ranked Salisbury University men’s lacrosse team (16-1, 9-0 CAC) and the York College (Pa.) Spartans is set for April 29 and if anything is certain, revenge is in the air.

“We all know what’s on the line come next week,” senior goalkeeper Colin Reymann said. “We really want revenge from last year.”

That revenge refers to the Spartans’ 10-9 win in the CAC final at Sea Gull Stadium a season ago. Salisbury defeated York 17-10 earlier this season but senior attacker Nate Blondino said the team wants more.

“We’re really hungry for Saturday,” Blondino said. “It’s been a year waiting for this game. We won a National Championship last year but I know everyone on this team is waiting to get redemption.”

On Senior Day the offense clicked, dumping 22 goals off of 58 shots. The Sea Gulls more than doubled their goal total from their previous outing—an 11-10 overtime loss at then-No. 14 Cabrini University.

“We took the blame for only putting up 10 goals,” Blondino said. “We had a hard week of practice and focused on getting better and getting back to what we had been doing the few weeks before. We executed really well and played well.”

Blondino tallied the game’s first goal less than a minute and a half into the game. The senior contributed a career-high six goals to lead the team.

The Eagles (9-8, 6-4 CAC) responded with an unassisted goal from junior midfielder Owen Dingman to tie the game. Less than two minutes later, SU junior midfielder Garrett Reynolds added an unassisted goal of his own to break the tie.

Salisbury took advantage of a man-up possession opportunity with senior attacker Adam Huber’s nineteenth goal of the season skipping under the legs of Mary Washington goalkeeper Billy Senicola. Blondino added a rocket to the top right corner of the cage to give the Sea Gulls a 4-1 lead at the end of the first quarter.

The second quarter started with more fireworks with Blondino adding his third goal of the game three-and-a-half minutes in. The Eagles answered back after Dingman flared a shot over the head of Reymann to cut the deficit to three.

Following the goal, the Salisbury offense rallied for an eight-goal run that put the game out of reach. The Sea Gull offense stayed aggressive, scoring eight goals in the third quarter.

“If we play the way we did on offense today and we get good faceoff play, I like our chances against anyone going forward,” SU head coach Jim Berkman said.

The SU offense tested Mary Washington sophomore goalkeeper Billy Senicola throughout. The sophomore saved 11 shots and allowed 19 goals.

With the absence of senior defender Aaron Leeds, the Sea Gulls went to a pair of freshman to fill the void. Defenders Kevin Murphy and Drew Borkowicz stepped in for a defense that allowed only three goals through the first three quarters. The defense accounted for 50 ground balls and caused 10 turnovers.

With the CAC Championship game a week away, the Spartans will travel back to Salisbury. The Sea Gulls will look to regain the CAC crown once more against the team that handed them their only loss a season ago.

“Our confidence is sky-high and we all know what’s on the line,” Reymann said.

WLAX: After 0-2 week, Sea Gulls find offensive touch in CAC Semifinals

By CHRIS MACKOWIAK

Sports Editor

@cmackowiakSGSN

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SU sophomore middie Ryan Schrader fights for a draw control earlier this season. Hannah Wichrowski photo

The last week of the regular season was arguably the toughest for the Salisbury University women’s lacrosse team. The Sea Gulls faced then-No. 7 York (Pa.) College Spartans and then the No. 1 TCNJ Lions. Both games ended with Salisbury on the wrong end of the stick, 0-2 on the week.

With an 11-5 overall record including 2-5 against ranked opponents entering Saturday, the Capital Athletic Conference (CAC) Semifinals offered Salisbury a chance to boost their resume and confidence.

The thirteenth-ranked Sea Gulls (12-5, 8-1 CAC) took the chance by storm, defeating the No. 14 Mary Washington Eagles 11-5. The win advances Salisbury into the CAC Championship game next Saturday when the team will travel to face the fifth-ranked Spartans.

“If we didn’t come out today with a victory, I didn’t think we’d be going postseason. So, that was a big factor behind the scenes. We just wanted to make that we came out and played hard and well,” SU head coach Jim Nestor said.

Within the first two minutes, Mary Washington (14-5, 7-3 CAC) was quick to open the scoring on the stick of senior middie Emily Mott, her eighteenth goal of the season. But then it was the Sea Gulls who followed their coach’s words of playing hard right out of the gate.

The next four minutes saw a 3-0 run from the Sea Gull offense, featuring goals from attackers junior Emma Wall, sophomore Lindsey Wagner and sophomore Gabrielle Mongno. The offensive start was a difference from recent contests that displayed slow starts for Salisbury.

“I think we were just trying to work better as a team, be more aggressive right at the first whistle. We’ve had a lot of trouble with that this season: lacking in the first half and then having to comeback against teams,” junior attacker Dana King said, after leading her team with five points.

King scored her first two of three goals in the next sequence of action. Following a UMW goal from sophomore attacker Julia Albert to make it 3-2 eight minutes in, the Sea Gulls went on another run. This time 4-0 over the course of 16 minutes.

Last in the CAC in free-position shot percentage, Salisbury found early success at the eight-meter fan, going 2-for-4 from free-position in just the first half. The Sea Gulls also doubled UMW’s shot count 25 to 12 over the course of the contest.

After Wall tacked on another SU goal with 66 seconds before the break, Salisbury went into the locker room up 8-3 and never looked back. The second half featured a slow pace ideal for smothering time off the clock in which SU outscored the Eagles 3-2.

“This season honestly kind of started out slow, especially for me, but after we’ve been working together, figuring out [team chemistry], we’ve finally gotten it all put together,” sophomore defender Martha Hutzell said.

Hutzell has slowly appeared on the field with more and more playing time as the season has gone on. Against UMW, the Ellicott City, Md. native was also instrumental in many of Salisbury’s 15 successful clears, showcasing her speed to dash by opponents.

“I just think to myself, ‘I want the ball and I want our attack to have the ball,’ because that’s less time that it’s on our defense, less time there’s chance that there’s a goal scored against us,” Hutzell said, recording three ground balls and two caused turnovers on Saturday.

An area of concern for SU is the battle at the draw control. The team is 1-5 this season when tallying six or fewer draws. On Saturday, there was no need for worry as Salisbury rallied to win 12 of the 18 total in the game.

“It was one of our better showings at draw control. I was very very pleased with that. Again, it was just people on the outside fighting for those ground balls. That’s the big part: ‘how hungry are you for that ball?’” coach Nestor said.

The 11-5 win was a large step from the 9-7 SU road victory in the previous match-up this season. The win moves Salisbury to 3-5 against ranked opponents this season with another Top-15 match-up set in the conference title game next Saturday.

The game will feature the top two seeds in the CAC. In an earlier game this season at York (Pa.), the Spartans took down the Sea Gulls 10-6. A conference title would solidify the Sea Gulls in the NCAA Tournament, but for now the confidence built from this CAC Semifinal win will fortify a strong foundation for the contest.

“[This win] feels good. It’s definitely a lot of momentum, and we want to keep it rolling going into NCAA’s,” King said.

Baseball: Sea Gulls win second-straight CAC Championship

By ZACH GILLELAND

Staff Writer

@_zachariahg

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The Salisbury baseball team celebrates their 2017 CAC Championship. Zach Gilleland photo

The No. 16 Salisbury University baseball team is headed back to the big dance.

For many of the Sea Gull seniors, they can add back-to-back Capital Athletic Conference (CAC) Champions to their resume. SU punched its ticket to the NCAA Tournament, blanking Mary Washington 21-0 on Saturday in the CAC title game.

“These seniors bust their tail day in and day out,” SU head coach Troy Brohawn said. “To see them right now—it’s a great feeling as a coach.”

Salisbury (30-8, 21-1 CAC) put up 21 runs on the Eagles’ pitching staff to cap off an incredible run that saw the offense put up 82 runs in a four-game stretch.

But even with the dominant run, winning the conference was just the start.

“Winning the conference—we got our goal,” senior pitcher Pete Grasso said. “We’re not finished, so we’re going to focus on the [NCAA Tournament] regional and take it one step at a time. It’s a good feeling but we know we’re not done.”

After a 2-4 start at the beginning of the season, the Sea Gulls have won 28 of their last 32 games. For senior catcher Tom LaBriola, the conference title added another accolade to the captain’s SU athletic career.

“Just playing with these guys has been awesome and it’s been an awesome four years,” senior catcher Tom LaBriola said. “Last game on this field—it means a lot.”

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Saturday’s game saw the final game at the SU Baseball Field. The Sea Gulls will move to a brand new facility starting next season. It will be constructed in the current lot that holds the intramural fields.

A story throughout the tournament, the offense continued to roll, scoring 21 runs off 17 hits. The Salisbury lineup contributed top to bottom with eight of the nine starters recording a hit and eight different Sea Gulls drove in a run.

Grasso took the mound for SU after facing Mary Washington on Tuesday. The Eagle offense had no answer at the plate, producing only six hits.

The right-hander delivered eight shutout innings, allowing six hits and three walks while striking out nine batters off of 107 pitches.

Grasso lowered his ERA to a CAC-best 1.34. The pitching staff that struggled early in the season has seemed to hit its stride.

“I’ll take my three starters over anybody in the country,” coach Brohawn said. “Win, lose or draw, I’ll take them. They go out and compete, which is a huge thing for me.”

The senior produced at the plate as well, going 4-for-7 with a solo blast in the ninth inning. 773 days after he hit his first home run at SU Baseball Field, Grasso trotted around the bases for the Stadium’s final-round tripper.

“We didn’t want to stop scoring runs,” Grasso said. “We wanted to keep tacking them on and keep our same approach.”

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The Sea Gulls batted around three times in the game and scored in six different innings, including an eight spot in the first. The offense has now scored 20 or more runs in four of its last five games.

Freshman center fielder Justin Meekins led the team with four runs scored, finishing the game 3-for-4 with two RBIs. Sophomore third baseman Jack Barry connected on SU’s other home run of the game, a two-run shot to left for his CAC-leading twelfth of the season.

With the CAC Tournament in the rearview mirror, Salisbury will play four non-conference games before starting the NCAA Tournament.

“We’re just going to continue to do what we are doing well,” LaBriola said. “We’ll just take everything, look forward and keep working hard.”

Baseball: Sea Gull offense continues to roll; advance to CAC Championship

By ZACH GILLELAND

Staff Writer

@_zachariahg

Tallying 61 runs through three games in the Capital Athletic Conference (CAC) Tournament, it has never been a question as to whether the Sea Gulls will produce at the plate.

That offense carried the Salisbury University baseball team to the CAC Championship game after piling on 25 runs on Wesley College en route to a 25-10 win on Friday.

As the temperature rose throughout the morning, the bats of the maroon and gold struck fire as the Sea Gulls (29-8, 20-1 CAC) produced 20 hits with eight of the nine starters recording a hit. The power was on display again as four different SU players connected on a home run.

“It’s so much easier to pitch with the lead,” Salisbury starter Micah Wells said. “It just takes all the stress of you as a pitcher and we’re just going to keep on swinging like we are.”

The first inning has been the charm for the Sea Gulls as seven runners came across to score in the inning. In their three games in the tournament, SU has scored 18 runs in the first inning.

A double with the bases loaded off the bat of senior catcher Tom LaBriola brought home three runs. The senior captain—in one of his final games at the SU Baseball Field—drove in six runs off three hits.

Three batters later junior right fielder Colby Dean came to the dish and delivered a two-run blast that almost cleared the screen in right field. The JUCO transfer’s third home run of the season gave Salisbury a 7-0 lead.

Wesley starter Sam Meck had no answer to the Sea Gull bats. Meck surrendered 14 runs off 13 hits and four walks in four innings of work.

The bats continued to catch fire. A Pete Grasso grand slam in the top of the third pushed the Salisbury lead to 12. A day to remember for the senior second baseman, Grasso had a season-high seven RBI.

Wells started on the mound for SU. The senior transfer from UNC-Charlotte cruised through the first six innings on the mound and allowed only two hits.

Wells ran into trouble in the seventh inning and surrendered six runs. The right-hander finished his day after surrendering six runs off six hits and three walks while striking out three off 111 pitches.

“I started out strong but really tried to use our defense,” Wells said. “That’s what we’ve been doing well with all this year.”

The Wolverines (19-14, 11-10 CAC) had a rally of their own, scoring 10 runs over the final three innings. But junior right-hander Connor Reeves slammed the door in the ninth to send Salisbury to its sixth straight CAC Championship Game appearance.

With the win the Sea Gulls will face the winner of the loser’s bracket on Saturday at 11 a.m. With no losses in the tournament, SU will have the luxury of needing to win just one more game.

If Salisbury were to lose during the 11 a.m. game, then a final game would be played at 2 p.m.

But after scoring 25 runs on Friday, the Sea Gulls may have the momentum heading into Saturday.

“We’re playing well, swinging well and we’re clicking on all cylinders,” Wells said. “Great team win today and I’m excited for tomorrow.”

WLAX: No.13 Sea Gulls aim to start CACs with a win against No.14 Mary Washington

By CHASE GORSKI

Staff Writer

@cgorski12

What: #13 Salisbury women’s lacrosse hosts #14 Mary Washington Eagles

Where: Sea Gull Stadium

When: Saturday, April 22 at 1 pm

How to Watch: Sea Gull Sports Network

No. 13 Salisbury (11-5, 7-1 CAC): After hitting their stride mid-season, including a stretch of nine wins in 10 games, the Gulls cooled off in the last two games of the season losing two close games to top-five opponents.  SU will need to rebound from those losses in order to move through the Capital Athletic Conference (CAC) tournament.

CAC Dominance: Before their loss to York on April 4, Salisbury had compiled a 132-game win streak against CAC opponents (including postseason play) dating back to 2003.  The Gulls have been unstoppable in the postseason, winning 14 straight CAC Championships with a record of 32-0 since the 2003 season.

Offense: Throughout eight conference match-ups Salisbury is second in the CAC in goals-per-game averaging just over 14.  The Sea Gulls have used efficiency to their advantage offensively in conference games, scoring 81 percent of their shots on goal while firing the second most shots in the CAC at 231.

In all contests this year the Gulls have outscored opponents 186-105.  Senior midfielder Gabbi Nieves is at the offensive front leading the team in goals with 30, alongside junior attacker Dana King behind her team-leading 50 points and 22 assists on the season.

Defense: The defense this year for the Gulls has limited opponents to just over six goals per game, but they have struggled towards the end of the season, giving up an average of over eight goals in their final four games.  Junior goalie Gianna Falcone’s save percentage has slowly decreased over the last half of the season to 47.5, down from last year’s 52.6.

Senior defender Kieran Kelleher has led the defense effort with 16 caused turnovers and 25 ground balls on the season.  For a Salisbury team that led the CAC with 75 caused turnovers in conference play, the Sea Gulls defense could be a big difference maker as they make their playoff run.

Player to Watch: Senior midfielder Gabbi Nieves

While offensive production will be something to look for with the Gulls, and they will rely heavily on their playmakers like King and junior midfielder Krissy Murphy, Nieves has been their go-to goal scorer all season with 30 goals.  Riding a four-game goal streak, Nieves will be a difficult threat for Mary Washington to maintain.

Nieves will also have further motivation with the 2017 season as her final season with the Gulls.  Having won the CAC championship each of her first three years, she will look to do everything in her power to propel the Gulls to the finals for her fourth straight championship.

No. 14 Mary Washington (14-4, 6-2 CAC):

The Eagles seem to be getting hot at the right time, coming into the semifinal match-up against the Gulls on a seven-game win streak while also winning nine of their past 10 games.  Mary Washington dominated their first round match-up against Frostburg St. with a 16-5 victory.

The Eagles played Salisbury close in their game early on in the season, taking the away loss but only by a score of 9-7.  In a fairly even match-up, the game will come down to which defense can come up with the big stop, and the Eagles are known for limiting opposing offenses this year, leading the CAC with only five goals allowed per game.  The one worry for the Eagles, is if they can beat the Sea Gulls in the postseason for the first time in 14 years. Their last win against them in the playoffs was the 2002 CAC Championship.

Offense: Mary Washington’s offense has showed their potential this season averaging over 12 goals per game, while firing an average of 20 shots on frame each game.  In their 10-game stretch to end the season the Eagles were only prevented from scoring double-digits in two of those games, including averaging 16 goals in their last four.  With only a slight difference in production between home and away match-ups, the Sea Gulls defense will face a real challenge against Mary Washington scorers.

Sophomore attacker Mackenzie Maguire has led the charge on all fronts leading her team in goals, assists and total points with 41, 20 and 61 respectively.  Maguire hit a new level towards the end of the season, bringing a six-game point streak into the semifinals, averaging over four points a game in that stretch.

Defense: UMW’s stout defense has led the league with the lowest goals against average, only giving up over five goals-per-game in 18 match-ups this year.  Their scrappy defense also leads the CAC in caused turnovers, with 39 more than the next best team.  The Eagles will need to take advantage of their clear attempts, averaging only an 80 percent success rate on the year.

Senior midfielder Emily Mott and junior defender Kristen Littlefield are two of the key players that have helped this Eagles defense succeed.  Mott leads in caused turnovers with 25, and ground balls with 43.  Littlefield is right behind her with 22 caused turnovers of her own and 42 ground balls.

Draw Control: The Eagles hold the slight advantage over the Gulls in the face-off department.  With Littlefield and sophomore midfielder Paige Childers leading the team in the draw categories, this could be where UMW can steal possessions away from an SU team that on the season has just 160 draw controls while allowing their opponents 155.

Player to Watch: Sophomore goalie Hanna Ashby

In just her second season with the Eagles, Ashby has been the most dominant goalie in the CAC this season.  With a 5.44 goals-against-average, Ashby has the highest save percentage amongst conference goalies, as well as the fourth best save percentage in the nation at 58.9 percent.

Her performance in the net will determine the outcome of this game, and if she is able to maintain her success from this season, the Eagles could be looking to make history on Saturday.

 

MLAX: Sea Gulls look to bounce back in CAC Semifinal

By ZACH GILLELAND

Staff Writer

@_zachariahg

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

Where: Sea Gull Stadium

When: Saturday, April 22, 4 p.m.

How to watch: Sea Gull Sports Network

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Senior long-stick middie Andrew Ternahan reaches for a ground ball vs. CNU earlier this season. Hannah Wichrowski photo

With another undefeated conference regular season in the books, the Salisbury University men’s lacrosse team aims to regain the Capital Athletic Conference (CAC) Championship once again, an accolade the team did not accomplish during last year’s storybook season.

Following a 20-game winning streak that included a National Championship, the Sea Gulls (15-1, 8-0 CAC) found themselves on the other side of the decision column, suffering their first loss of the season to No. 11 Cabrini University Friday night.

Last Meeting: The Sea Gulls defeated the Eagles 17-5 in Sea Gull Stadium on Mar. 18. Salisbury fell to a 2-1 deficit after the first quarter, but they outscored Mary Washington 16-3 the rest of the way.

Salisbury: Like a year ago, SU suffered a one-goal loss late in the season—to York College (Pa.) in the CAC Championship Game. The Sea Gulls followed the loss with a run in the NCAA Tournament en-route to the program’s eleventh National Championship. If history repeats itself, the Sea Gulls may have another season to remember.

Mary Washington: Winners of five-straight games, the Eagles (9-7, 5-3 CAC) advanced to the semifinals after defeating Frostburg St. on Wednesday. Mary Washington led by as much as six in the fourth quarter and fended off a late Bobcat rally to escape with an 11-9 win.

Salisbury Offense: Averaging 16.75 goals per game, Salisbury has tallied double-digit goal totals in all but two games this season. The maroon and gold did not have the success they were used to this season against Cabrini, scoring 10 goals with a shot percentage of 26.3 percent—the team’s third worse percentage of the season.

With many different scoring threats, the Sea Gulls have a potent offensive attack that leads the CAC in goals per game, shot percentage and shot-on-goal percentage. Nine different players have scored 10 or more goals and senior attacker Nathan Blondino’s 90 points leads the CAC by 13.

Mary Washington Defense: Switching goalies six games into the season, sophomore Billy Senicola occupies the cage for the Eagles. Senicola allowed 17 goals in the previous match-up against Salisbury, but saved 17 shots and held the Sea Gulls to just one goal in the first quarter.

Allowing 11 goals per game, the Mary Washington defense will need a strong performance to stop a soaring SU offense.

Mary Washington Offense: A 10.81 goals per game average that ranks fifth in the CAC, Mary Washington does not have the offensive fire power that Salisbury possesses but does carry momentum into Saturday’s contest. Winners of five-straight games, the Eagles have scored 10 or more goals in four of those wins.

Leading the way offensively for Mary Washington are senior attackers Miles Davis and Mike Marson who have combined for 55 goals and 101 points. Keeping up with the Sea Gulls’ offense may be difficult and after mustering only five goals against Salisbury in their previous match-up, the Eagles will need a strong performance out of their senior duo.

Salisbury Defense: Armed with one of the nation’s most prolific scoring attacks, the defense has held their own all season, allowing a CAC-best 6.35 goals per game. The Sea Gull defense allowed 10 or more goals in a game for just the third time this season in the loss to Cabrini, a game in which the team allowed four goals within the fourth quarter after leading by as much as four.

In the cage for Salisbury is senior goalkeeper Colin Reymann, who allowed only four goals in the win over Mary Washington earlier this season. The Eagles will have their work cut out for them facing a tough SU defense.

At the “X”: The face-off battle will see a match-up between Sea Gull Duncan Campbell and Eagle Eli Ayer. Campbell slightly edges Ayer in face-off conversions, holding a 60.2 percent success rate compared to Ayer’s 59.6 mark. Salisbury has more depth with a second face-off man in sophomore T.J. Logue who holds a 55.3 percent success rate.

Both teams were on the opposite end of the spectrum in their previous games. Mary Washington dominated at the “X” against Frostburg St. on Wednesday, converting 18 of 23 face-off attempts. On the other side, Salisbury struggled against Cabrini, converting only 10 of 24 attempts.

The battle for possession could be important for Mary Washington to try to limit the offensive opportunities for the Sea Gulls.

Mary Washington Player to Watch: Sophomore goalkeeper Billy Senicola.

Senicola will have his work cut out for him Saturday, facing the Salisbury offense for the second time this season. A goals-against average of 10.20, the Eagles will need a strong performance in the cage from their sophomore.

Salisbury Player to Watch: Senior attacker Nick Garbarino

After missing the first four games of the season, Garbarino is on an offensive tear, averaging 4.5 points per game. The senior tied for a game-high five goals against Mary Washington earlier this season.

Baseball: Sea Gulls advance in CAC Tournament off Oster’s arm

By ZACH GILLELAND

Staff Writer

@_zachariahg

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A win Friday morning vs. Wesley will provide the Sea Gulls with a spot in the CAC Championship Saturday afternoon. Hannah Wichrowski photo

Two more wins.

The No. 16 Salisbury University baseball team is now two wins away from capturing its second consecutive Capital Athletic Conference (CAC) crown after a 15-1 win over York College of Pennsylvania on Thursday.

Following a 21-run outburst against Mary Washington in the first round of the tournament on Tuesday, the Sea Gulls (28-8) continued their hot stretch at the plate. Facing the three-seed Spartans (15-17) for the third time in a week, the SU offense mashed 17 hits and hit four homeruns.

Senior right-hander Jeff Oster was on the mound for the maroon and gold. Allowing seven runs in his last start against York on senior day, Oster’s last start was still on his mind.

“Coming off of Saturday I wanted to come back strong because they hit me around pretty good,” Oster said. “I wanted to go out there for the team, do the best I can and keep moving forward in this tournament.”

On the mound against the Spartans for the second time in a week, Oster’s familiarity with the York lineup helped him in his start. He said he keeps a notebook that keeps track of every batter he has faced.

“I saw their tendencies so I decided to mix it up more, keeping them off-balanced,” Oster said. “Playing them Saturday helped and it kept me fired up.”

The senior delivered eight innings of three-hit ball, allowing one run and striking out four.

“We said yesterday that York has not seen the best Jeff Oster yet,” SU head coach Troy Brohawn said. “He came out and battled and I thought he did a hell of a job.”

The Sea Gull bats started things off early, scoring three runs in the first. With two runners on and two away, a double to center by senior catcher Tom LaBriola scored two. Sophomore first baseman Jay Perry followed with a grounder to left to score LaBriola.

Salisbury displayed its power in the second inning with back-to-back homeruns by junior shortstop Scott Ardoin and senior second baseman Pete Grasso extending the lead to six. Doing a little property damage, the homerun by Ardoin nailed the scoreboard in left and Grasso’s shot hit the screen in right.

After not hitting a single homerun through his first 32 games, Ardoin has hit three homeruns in the past four games—all against the Spartans.

“I’ve had a better approach up the middle, seeing good pitches and attacking the fastball,” Ardoin said. “We saw a lot of the same pitches on Saturday and we were being aggressive at the plate.”

The big second inning for the Sea Gulls knocked York starter Elliot Mortimer out of the game after surrendering six runs off six hits.

SU continued its scoring in the bottom of the fourth, with a two-run shot from sophomore third baseman Jack Barry clearing the trees in left. The fifth inning produced another big inning for Salisbury, who sent nine batters to plate in route to three more runs.

The Sea Gull offense produced a run in six of their eight innings at the plate. The offense has now scored 10 or more runs in four consecutive games.

“Our hitting has really struggled up until the last seven to eight days,” coach Brohawn said. “You get two or three [hits] and they get hot. It’s contagious down the lineup.”

With the win, Salisbury has won 19 of its 20 conference games this season. The maroon and gold are currently on a 26-4 stretch after a 2-4 start.

“We are together every day, we love each other and we have come so far,” Oster said. “The camaraderie and bonding—we have so much fun and I think that has a big thing to do with it.”

With the loss, the third-seed Spartans are now eliminated from the tournament. They join second-seed Christopher Newport as the only teams to be eliminated through the first two rounds.

The Sea Gulls continue in day three of the CAC Tournament, facing Wesley College at 9 a.m. on Friday. SU currently holds a 2-0 series lead over the Wolverines this season.

“This is huge,” Ardoin said. “Jeff [Oster] going out eight innings, it gives us a lot of confidence and we are playing well right now.”

WLAX: No. 11 Gulls drop second-straight in loss to top-ranked TCNJ

By BRAD KELLY

Sports Writer

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Salisbury breaks on to the transition attack off of a draw control vs. St. Mary’s (Md.). Hannah Wichrowski photo

The Salisbury women’s lacrosse team (11-5, 7-1 CAC) could not tame the No. 1 ranked (9-1, 2-0 CAC) TCNJ Lions, losing the contest 6-3. This loss is the second of the week for the Gulls, as they also fell to the No. 7 York (Pa.) Spartans 10-6 on Tuesday.

Even though the score shows a three-goal difference, the game was highly contested from the onset as both teams brought a high level of intensity to the field. The teams traded turnovers on their opening possessions, and it was clear that defense was going to be the theme of the day.

The Lions have outscored opponents by 73 goals in the first period this season, and they jumped out to an early two-goal lead versus the Gulls, thanks to the efforts from freshmen midfielder Allie Gorman. She found the back of the net at the eight-minute mark on a pretty assist from sophomore midfielder Erin Harvey. She then scored the first of four free position goals for the Lions on the day.

Salisbury continued to push the pace on both sides of the ball, though, and answered before the half. Senior midfielder Gabbi Nieves got the Gulls on the board near the three-minute mark, giving her a team-high 30 goals on the season.

After the half, Salisbury tied the game not even a minute into the period on an individual effort from sophomore Lindsey Wagner who scored while falling to the ground. But, the Lions would not be held off the board too much longer, thanks to two more free position goals by senior attacker Mia Blackman, which gave the Lions a 4-2 lead.

The Gulls were aggressive all day on defense, but there is a fine line between physicality and fouling. Salisbury was too physical in the referee’s eyes as the team was called for 45 fouls compared to 17 on TCNJ. More importantly, the Lions won eight free position shots compared to only one for Salisbury.

Salisbury cut the deficit to one halfway into the period on a goal by sophomore Courtney Fegan, her first of the season. Unfortunately, that was the closest the gulls would get to tying the game, as freshman attacker Alex Fitzpatrick iced the game with two goals over the last six minutes.

“The good thing about losing against these teams this week is that we know what to improve,” Nieves said. “Two good teams were on that field today.”

The loss ends the Gulls’ regular season as the team will host a Capital Athletic Conference (CAC) Tournament semifinal matchup on April 22. Even though the regular season ended on a sour note, the team did only drop one game in conference play this season and has won at least 11 games the last two years. The team will now look to the postseason and what lies ahead.

“We did a good job of finally putting on the field what we have been planning in practice,” Nieves said. “We ramped up the intensity today and that is something we can build from.”