By ZACH GILLELAND
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
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.