By: Chase Gorski
In a game on the complete opposite end of the spectrum as their previous matchup last season, No. 1 Salisbury’s persistency gave them the edge at home on Saturday with a final score of 9-7 against Montclair State.
After the Sea Gulls’ recent “closer than expected” win against Lynchburg, their game against Montclair St. ended in similar fashion. After last season’s 23-7 drubbing of the Red Hawks, it was expected that the Sea Gulls would have their way with the defending-Skyline Conference champions.
Despite what was expected, this game had fans on the edges of their seats until the final minutes of the fourth quarter.
The Red Hawks (0-1) opened up the scoring in the first quarter with a goal by senior midfielder Shaun Sterner, his first of four as the Gulls (3-0) struggled to contain him on defense. Montclair St. also achieved a feat that no team has since the 2015 season; they shut out the Gulls in a quarter.
Salisbury’s electric offense finally showed life in the second quarter, scoring four-straight goals within three minutes and taking the lead 4-1. The remainder of the first half was back-and-forth between both teams, with the Red Hawks adding two more goals and the Gulls adding one to go into the half with the score at 5-3.
After both teams traded multiple goals through the third and fourth quarters, the momentum began to shift as Montclair St. tied the game at 7-7 with just under five minutes to go.
The tie would not last long as, just a minute later, senior attackman Carson Kalama of Salisbury scored the go-ahead which would prove to be the game-winning goal on an assist by junior midfielder Garrett Reynolds. Reynolds sealed the deal moments later with a goal of his own, bringing the score to 9-7.
Kalama, who tallied two goals and an assist on the day, explained what happened on his late fourth quarter goal.
“[Reynolds] made a nice sweep across the top and found me underneath; we were trying to do that in the game but it just didn’t work,” Kalama said.
Kalama contributed six of Salisbury’s 42 total shots, but just like the rest of the Salisbury offense, the senior attacker could not seem to get in a groove. He explained the offensive struggle and the breakthrough on the final possessions.
“The last two possessions were our best possessions of the game and we scored two goals on them,” Kalama said. “We were able to close the game and end it on a positive note.”
One key improvement that the Sea Gulls made in comparison to their matchup against the Red Hawks last season was their performance at the ‘X’. After struggling mightily with face-offs against Montclair St. last season, the Gulls claimed eight of the 19 face-offs.
SU head coach Jim Berkman elaborated on the battle against Montclair State’s senior face-off specialist Blasé Mantineo.
“That kid is one of the best in the country. . . but Cory [Berry] and [Andrew] Ternahan do a great job on the wings and Duncan [Campbell] and T.J. [Logue] have definitely gotten better,” Berkman explained. “That’s definitely one of our strengths.”
With conference play opening up within a month, Berkman and the Gulls know that there are still improvements to be made, but they are confident that as the season goes on they will be able to gain momentum and play to their full potential.
“We’re just trying to get better every day and trying to improve,” Berkman stated. “I know those seniors are going to come through. They’re battle tested and they’re going to play well.”
The No. 1 ranked Gulls continue their season next Saturday at home against Gettysburg College in a rematch of last season’s NCAA Tournament semifinal which Salisbury won 14-6.