By DREW KESSLER
Salisbury had their biggest test of the season so far Saturday afternoon when sixth-ranked Gettysburg College (2-1) came to play the top-ranked Sea Gulls (4-0). The Bullets came into Sea Gull Stadium looking for revenge after falling to Salisbury two times last season: 10-7 in the 2016 regular season, and 14-6 in the NCAA Tournament Semifinals.
The Sea Gulls came out firing, starting the game on a 2-0 run with goals by freshman attacker Josh Melton and sophomore middie Corey Gwin within the first six minutes of the game. Gwin propelled the Salisbury offense by scoring two of the first three goals in the game for the Sea Gulls.
“Felt like the first time all season the team was running on all cylinders to start off a game,” Gwin said.
Gettysburg overcame the slow start by ending the first quarter by scoring the last two goals to tie the game.
Then, in the second quarter, Salisbury’s offense exploded with the first three goals in the quarter, gaining a 5-2 advantage.
The three-goal lead proved to be the largest of the game. But, throughout the whole game, Gettysburg kept fighting back and ended the first half nicely. Despite trending offenses, the Bullets went into the breakdown only 5-4.
Both teams traded goals in the third quarter. Then, with 40 seconds left to go, Gettysburg deflected a Salisbury shot attempt, leaving an open opportunity. Salisbury leading-scorer and senior attacker Carson Kalama (11 goals) picked up the deflection and scored his first goal of the game to give the Gulls the lead and momentum headed into the final quarter.
For the Bullets, two players stepped up in the key situations. Senior attacker Sean Fumai led the charge with three goals, including two in the fourth quarter. Bullets junior goalkeeper Tim Brady stood tall in the cage with 14 saves in the game.
“He kept us in the game; when Salisbury got up 5-2 when they had a man up, he had a huge save and our team came up to score two goals to make it 5-4, and when it was tied later in the game, he had a couple huge saves,” Gettysburg head coach Hank Janczyk said.
“Their goalie [Brady] just came on fire in the fourth quarter. He had 11 saves in the second half, as we had four fast breaks in a row and didn’t score,” SU head coach Jim Berkman said.
With less than four minutes left to go in the fourth quarter, Salisbury senior middie Garrett Reynolds scored to put Salisbury up 9-8. Gettysburg wasted no time to respond as they came right back down to allow senior attacker Reed Barbe to tie up the game once again with 3:01 left.
Both defenses stepped up in the final three minutes of play, shutting down the opposing offense. The big play for the SU defense came from defensive middie Troy Miller when he stripped the ball from Gettysburg with a minute left, sending the game to overtime.
The overtime period ended quickly, as Salisbury won the face-off and then coach Berkman called a timeout. After the timeout, SU offensive middie Brendan Bromwell scored the winning goal to raise the Sea Gulls’ record to 4-0 this season. A margin of two goals or less has decided three of Salisbury’s four games so far.
“We have been in close games all year, not to our liking; definitely would want to put more points on the board, and keep practicing to keep improving throughout the year,” Bromwell said.
“This game was a big step for home playoffs, even if it was a February game. Whenever playing a good team, the magic number is 10 for giving up goals. If they don’t get 10, they probably are not going to beat us,” coach Berkman said.
Gettysburg suffered their first loss of the season after starting with wins over Messiah and Goucher. Both Salisbury and Gettysburg face top-15 match-ups next week. The Bullets’ next game will be on Saturday when they host No.10 Stevenson. For Salisbury, their undefeated record will be put to the test against No.13 Ohio Wesleyan on Sunday, Mar. 5.
“I think these young guys, as we have a lot of freshmen and sophomores on the team, really took a step up today, playing great competition like Salisbury on the road,” Gettysburg coach Janczyk said.