SALISBURY, Md. – The No. 8 Salisbury University men's lacrosse team is again one of the final eight teams left playing. The Sea Gulls will travel to No. 4 Lynchburg College on Wednesday, May 13 for an NCAA Division III tournament quarterfinal game, which is set for 7 p.m., marking the 26th-consecutive season that the Gulls have advanced as far as the quarterfinals in the tournament.
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How we got here
The Sea Gulls battled heavy traffic and a power outage on Saturday on the way to a 12-4 victory over No. 7 Stevenson University in Mustang Stadium in a second-round game. Securing the team's spot in the quarterfinal round, sophomore Nathan Blondino put away four goals and an assist to lead the team with five points in the contest. Senior goalkeeper Connor Anderson continues to come up big for the Gulls, as he turned away 12 Stevenson shots in the game.
How they got here
The Hornets took on Aurora University in the second round of the tournament, taking a 19-8 victory in the game on Saturday. Austin Stewart led Lynchburg with eight goals in the game, while adding an assist for nine points. Aurora took an early 2-0 lead, but Lynchburg responded with five-straight goals to take the lead. By the end of the first quarter, the Hornets had an 8-3 lead and continued to control the game from there.
In the all-time series, Salisbury holds a 19-3 advantage in 22 previous meetings. When traveling to Lynchburg, the Sea Gulls hold an 8-2 record at Shellenberger Field, but both losses have come in the past two games on the road. The Gulls' last win in Lyncburg came on February 19, 2011 in a 13-5 contest. Sam Bradmen netted eight goals in the game to lead the team, with six of them coming in the first half.
The last time we met
The Sea Gulls and Hornets played in Salisbury's second game of the season on February 14. Lynchburg came away with a 12-7 win in the game, after jumping out to a 4-1 lead in the first quarter. Salisbury was led by juniors Christian Ottenritter and Thomas Cirillo and freshman Chase Berquist with two goals, each. Aaron Murphy scored five goals for Lynchburg to lead the Hornets in the game.
From sideline to front of the line
Anderson began the season watching from the sideline, before taking over the starting spot in the cage for the Sea Gulls in the fifth game of the season. Since Anderson entered the crease, he has moved up to the top of the country in goals-against average, only allowing 4.36 goals per game. He also ranks No. 1 in the nation with a .659 save percentage, making 122 saves this season. In the 17 games Anderson has started, Salisbury has won 15 and are on an 11-game winning streak.
No Fly Zone
The Salisbury defense has been grounding opponents' offensive attacks all season, and is currently holding down the No. 1 spot in the country in scoring defense. After only allowing three goals in the team's first-round win against Roanoke, including holding the Maroons scoreless in the second half, Salisbury's goals-allowed average is down to 5.48 goals per game. The unit is holding opposing teams to only 25.4 shots per game on a .216 shooting percentage. In 21 games this season, the Sea Gulls have allowed more than 10 goals twice and have allowed five or less in each of the past five contests.
Shutting down the best
The Salisbury defense will be tasked with shutting down the top goal scorer in the country in Lynchburg's Austin Stewart. Stewart is averaging 4.63 goals per game. He leads the Hornets with 101 goals and 114 points this season and is coming off of an eight-goal game in the second round against Aurora University. Stewart shoots at a 43.0 percent clip, with a .604 shots on goal percentage.
Led by Stewart's big season, the Hornets come into the contest with the No. 8-ranked scoring offense. Aaron Murphy and Todd Galvin join Stewart and a potent attack line. Murphy leads the team with 47 assists; paired with 39 goals, he ranks second on the team with 86 points. Galvin has added 60 points on 34 goals and 26 assists. Chris Hawley mans the cage for Lynchburg with a 7.03 goals-allowed average and 162 saves.
The winner of Wednesday's matchup with advance to the NCAA semifinals against the winner of another quarterfinal game between No. 2 Gettysburg College and No. 3 Ohio Wesleyan University.