May 23, 2014

Sea Gulls, Jumbos meet again in Baltimore with national title on the line

BALTIMORE - The No. 2 Salisbury University men's lacrosse team will take the field on Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore for the NCAA Division III national championship game, looking for the program's 11th national title; the Sea Gulls will take on No. 6 Tufts University in a 1 p.m., contest.

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How we got here

Salisbury earned its place in the championship game with a 13-8 victory over No. 5 Washington (Md.) College on Sunday, May 18 in an NCAA semifinal game at Sea Gull Stadium. The Shoremen took a 3-0 lead in the first quarter, but the Gulls responded with an 11-2 run that began with a goal by senior attackman Rhett DePol with eight seconds left in the first quarter. The stretch lasted into the fourth quarter, as junior midfielder Sean Fitzgerald and junior attackman Mike Kane both scored three goals to lead SU, while Fitzgerald recorded a team-high four points. The Salisbury defense clamped down, holding Washington to only two goals combined in the second and third quarters, allowing the Sea Gulls to gain a four-goal cushion going into the fourth, before taking the win.

How they got here

Tufts moved past No. 1 Rochester Institute of Technology, 21-11, in the semifinals behind seven goals from Beau Wood and five goals from Cole Bailey. After ending the first quarter tied 4-4, the Jumbos used a 6-2 second quarter to take a 10-6 lead into halftime. The teams traded three goals each to start the second half, but Tufts stayed on top and outscored RIT, 11-6, in the third and fourth quarters to take the win.

The last time we met

Sunday's matchup will bring a bit of deja vu, as the Sea Gulls and Jumbos last met in an NCAA Division III championship game at M&T Bank Stadium in 2011; the game was a 19-7 victory for Salisbury. Former Sea Gull Sam Bradman led the team with seven goals and eight points in the game, helping SU win its ninth national title. The Gulls took control from the start with a 6-2 first quarter, never trailing in the game.

Something's got to give

Sunday's national championship game puts one of the best offensive units in the country head-to-head with one of the best defensive units in the nation. Entering the NCAA quarterfinals, Tufts boasted the No. 1 scoring offense, putting 18.75 goals into the cage per game, while Salisbury featured the No. 8 scoring defense, allowing only 6.3 goals per game. After wins in the quarterfinals and semifinals, the Salisbury defense enters M&T Bank Stadium with a 6.32 GAA, and Tufts' offense is scoring 18.68 goals per game. Since the Sea Gulls' April 2 loss to Christopher Newport University, Salisbury has allowed more than six goals in a game only three times in 11 contests.

Scouting Tufts

Tufts' No. 1 scoring offense is bolstered by three 100-point players in John Uppgren, Cole Bailey and Beau Wood. The trio leads the Jumbos with 120, 112, and 101 points, respectively. Chris Schoenhut, who sits fourth with 86 points, leads the team with 80 goals, while Bailey leads the team with 60 assists. The defense is led by Blake Wood's 19 caused turnovers, while goalkeeper Patton Watkins is saving .589 percent of shots.

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