By CHRIS MACKOWIAK
What: No. 1 Salisbury University men’s lacrosse hosts No. 5 York College (Pa.)
Where: Sea Gull Stadium
When: Wednesday April 12, 7 p.m.
How to Watch: Sea Gull Sports Network
As the Capital Athletic Conference (CAC) moves into the halfway point of its regular season, one point stands tall: York College (Pa.) and Salisbury University are on a collision course in both men’s and women’s lacrosse. On the men’s side, the two schools will meet up in a rematch of the 2016 CAC Championship soon in what may determine home-field advantage in the CAC Tournament. Prepare for another classic in this developing rivalry.
Last Season: In the regular season, the top-ranked Sea Gulls travelled to seventh-ranked York in what turned into a run-away 17-5 victory for Salisbury, improving themselves to 16-0 on the season at the time.
It was a much different story in the CAC Championship when the Spartans matched Salisbury blow-for-blow in Sea Gull Stadium. York led 6-3 headed into the half and then 10-7 entering the final five minutes of play, holding off a brief Salisbury comeback for the 2016 CAC Title.
No. 1 Salisbury: The Sea Gulls (11-0, 4-0 CAC) have not let up off the gas pedal following their 2016 National Championship. Salisbury is flying high off of an 11-0 record and SU head coach Jim Berkman’s recent career win mark at No. 500. Their resume is boosted with a 3-0 record against non-conference opponents, fortifying their consistent No. 1 overall ranking.
No. 5 York: While the Spartans (11-1, 3-0 CAC) did hoist the CAC Championship last season, the program looks to take the next step in 2017 to prove themselves as a national power. Other than a double-overtime blemish vs. Lynchburg, York has put together a strong resume on paper. York sports wins at Gettysburg and vs. Stevenson, which place them directly with Salisbury in strength of schedule.
SU sophomore face-off specialist T.J. Logue battles at the ‘X’ against Gettysburg College earlier this season. The Gulls have a 68 percent success rate on face-offs. Hannah Wichrowski photo
SU Offense: After a slow start in 2017, Salisbury’s offense is back to their production from a season ago, averaging 16.64 goals per game. Senior attackers Nate Blondino and Carson Kalama are both back leading the offense. The duo has combined for 59 goals, 46 assists and 105 points.
After missing the first four games of the season, senior attacker Nick Garbarino was a welcomed addition right in front of the crease. Firing over 48 shots per game, the Sea Gulls are a lethal and consistent offense that opponents must keep up with.
York Defense: The Spartans field a formidable defense to match the firepower of the Gulls. Allowing 6.85 goals per game, York may not be as physical as the Sea Gulls out there, but they are consistent and hold in against top offenses. If the Spartans can force the Gulls to take inaccurate and wide-ranging shots, they could bunker in enough to get by Salisbury.
In the cage, fans will find junior goalkeeper Landry Marshall. The Brookeville, Md. native holds strong with a 6.49 goals-against average and a 59 percent rate on saves.
York Offense: Against a stout Salisbury defense, York will simply have to score just enough to get by the Gulls. Averaging 12.75 goals per game, the Spartans can rack up the goals scoring over 13 in a game seven times.
Leading the charge is sophomore attacker Brendan McGrath, who has accumulated 33 goals, 15 assists and 48 points this season. The best attribute to McGrath might be his ability to recover lost possessions, tallying 40 groundballs this season.
SU Defense: The Sea Gulls are fifth in the nation in their goals-against average with 5.62. Once again, one of Salisbury’s greatest strengths is on the defensive side of the ball. The physical tenacity continues in 2017 with SU averaging 42.8 ground balls and 12.8 caused turnovers per game.
With a stout first defensive line in front of him, senior goalkeeper Colin Reymann stands tall in the cage, letting up 5.81 goals per game and sporting a 53.3 save percentage. Opponents have a tough time scoring on man-up situations, too, with Salisbury letting in only 16 percent of their chances.
Face-off: Senior face-off specialist Duncan Campbell continues to play strong at the ‘X’ for the Gulls, recording a 68 percent success rate so far this season. Overall, Salisbury sports a 64 percent average at the reset with sophomore middie T.J. Logue joining in on opportunities.
It may be an intense match-up at the ‘X’ between these two teams, with York tallying a 61.8 percent success rate in 2017. Sophomore face-off specialist Billy Sasso is the man to watch for the Spartans, averaging a 63.9 percent success rate. The possession battle might just come down to the wingers crashing in.
Clearing: The battle in the midfield might be what determines the game between these very balanced teams. The efficiency of Salisbury clears is marveled at in 2017 as SU is third in the nation with a 91.3 percent success rate. Holding opponents to under a 75 percent success rate, the Gulls ride and disrupt opponents well.
York puts up similar stats in the clearing department as the Gulls. The Spartans are fifth in the nation with an 89.9 success rate, and they also ride the clear at a 78.4 mark. These two sides make for a highly contested midfield on April 12.
Salisbury Player to Watch: Sr. A Nick Garbarino
The return of Garbarino when the Sea Gulls faced No. 13 Ohio Wesleyan on March 5 marked the return of the offense’s 2016 efficiency. Since his first appearance, the senior has accumulated 27 goals and 36 points. That spreads into 3.9 goals per game and 5.1 points per game. Garbarino adds a strong presence in front of the crease that fans should watch for in the late crucial moments.
York Player to Watch: Jr. D Joey Fiorino
If York wants to take down the Gulls again on the road, they will have to slow down the opposing offense once again. This process will start with the defensive line. Physicality may just be what the Spartans need, and it comes from Fiorino. The Reisterstown, Md. native sports 29 groundballs and nine caused turnovers in 2017. While it will take a full defensive effort, Fiorino is one individual to watch.