SALISBURY, Md. – The No. 8 Salisbury University men's lacrosse team will have a chance for its 19th Capital Athletic Conference championship on Saturday, as the Sea Gulls will host No. 19 Frostburg State University in the conference title game at 12 p.m.
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How we got here
The CAC top-seeded Sea Gulls defeated fourth-seeded York College of Pennsylvania on Saturday in a conference semifinal contest to advance to the championship game. After earning a first-round bye, Salisbury hosted York in a 16-4 win, behind a career-high six goals from sophomore Nathan Blondino. Senior Sean Fitzgerald tallied four assists in the game, while junior Preston Dabbs caused four turnovers for the defense.
How they got here
As the tournament's second seed, the Bobcats also earned a first-round bye, before hosting sixth-seeded University of Mary Washington in the semifinal round. Frostburg and Mary Washington entered the fourth quarter tied 4-4, and the Eagles took a 6-5 lead in the final quarter, but goals from Chris Rios and Tate Roland in the final six minutes of the game gave the Bobcats a 7-6 victory. Roland's game winner came on an assist from Devin Colegrove with 4:41 to go.
Salisbury holds an 8-0 all-time record over Frostburg in their history, including a 5-0 record in CAC play. Saturday's meeting will mark the second-straight season that the team will meet twice in the same season. Last season, the Sea Gulls defeated the Bobcats 12-6 in a CAC semifinal contest on the way to the program's 18th conference championship.
The last time we met
The teams met earlier this season on April 11 in the regular season, as the Sea Gulls used an overtime goal from Blondino to take an 8-7 victory in Frostburg, Maryland. Salisbury trailed 7-6 in the fourth quarter, but a goal with 2:54 left in regulation from sophomore Brendan Bromwell tied the score to force the extra time.
Sophomore Carson Kalama and Blondino have become mainstays in the Salisbury attack in their second seasons with the team. Since beginning the season with four goals and six points in the first five games, Kalama has stepped up to scored two or more goals in all but one of the last 13 games, while tallying four or more points in nine of them. He currently leads the team with 46 goals and 58 points.
After sitting out the first half of the season due to injury, Blondino has returned to scored 28 points in 10 games, including 17 goals. He has tallied six points twice, with a one goal and five assist performance against Wesley College on April 1 and the six-goal effort against York on Saturday.
The Sea Gulls currently rank in the top 10 in the country in scoring offense, scoring defense, and scoring margin. The Salisbury defense, led by seniors Knute Kraus and Marty Wallace with 23 caused turnovers each and senior goalkeeper Connor Anderson's 4.51 goals-allowed average, sits at No. 4 in the nation with a 5.72 team GAA. Ranking seventh in the country with a 14.83 goals-per game scoring offense, the Sea Gulls boast the third-best scoring margin of 9.11 goals per game, leading the Sea Gulls to a 14-4 overall record and a current eight-game winning streak.
The Bobcats boast one of the country's best defenses as well, giving up only 5.72 goals per game to tie Salisbury at fourth in the country. Frostburg goalkeeper Tom Kraemer holds the fifth-best GAA in the country at 5.51 goals per game. The Bobcats are led on offense by Colegrove with 70 points on 29 goals and 41 assists.
The winner of Saturday's game will earn the conference's automatic bid to the NCAA Division III tournament. Without the conference title, the Sea Gulls or Bobcats will look to the NCAA Selection Show on Sunday, May 3 at 9 p.m., to find out if their season will continue into the tournament.