SALISBURY, Md. – After falling into an early 3-0 deficit in the first quarter, a goal by senior attackman Rhett DePol with eight seconds left in the quarter sparked an 11-2 run that lasted into the fourth quarter, as the No. 2 Salisbury University men's lacrosse team defeated No. 5 Washington (Md.) College in an NCAA Division III semifinal contest, 13-8, at Sea Gull Stadium, sending the team back to M&T Bank Stadium for the national championship game.
The Baltimore-bound Sea Gulls overcame their largest deficit to start a game this year to advance to their 15th all-time championship contest, in front of a packed house of 2375, marking the largest crowd since May 8, 2010 against Washington with a crowd of 2504.
The Shoremen's Hunter Nowicki scored the first goal of the game, and two of Washington's first three to gain the early lead.
DePol cut into the lead by running around the crease from the right side, curling around the left, and beating the keeper low.
After a Washington penalty to start the second, junior midfielder Sean Fitzgerald made the score 3-2, faking a shot from the right wing, dodging to the crease, and planting his first into the cage just 44 seconds into the quarter; Fitzgerald led the Gulls with four points, while tying for a team-high three goals.
DePol tied the score with another shot on the crease just over two minutes later.
After Nowicki scored again to retake the lead for Washington, Salisbury scored three-straight goals to grab its first lead.
Fitzgerald knotted the score, 4-4, with a shot while driving left, before junior midfielder Adam Stork would bounce a shot into the top of the cage to take the lead, 5-4.
Senior attackman Luke Phipps netted a man-up score with 4:37 left in the half, taking a pass from DePol and ripping a shot from the right wing.
The Shoremen found the cage again before the break, but Salisbury took a 6-5 lead into the half. Washington held a slight lead in shot, 18-17, while leading in ground balls, 16-11, and faceoffs, 8-of-11, at halftime.
A 3-0 third quarter gave the Sea Gulls a 9-5 lead heading into the final quarter. Phipps netted his second to begin the second half, hitting the top left corner of the cage from the right wing, before junior attackman Mike Kane scored his first on the crease in the first five minutes of the third; Kane netted a hat trick to tie Fitzgerald for the team lead in the game.
Senior midfielder Greg Korvin scored the final goal to give SU the four-goal cushion.
The fourth began with Fitzgerald's final score, before Stork netted his second. Kane added his last two in the game to cap the win.
Senior goalkeeper Alex Taylor earned the win, making eight saves in 60 minutes in the cage.
Salisbury will take on a familiar foe in the national championship game, going up against No. 6 Tufts University; the opening faceoff is set for 1 p.m., on Sunday, May 25. This will be third time the Sea Gulls will play Tufts in a national championship game in M&T Bank Stadium, with previous meetings in 2010 and 2011.