LYNCHBURG, Va. - The No. 8 Salisbury University men's lacrosse team saw its 2015 season come to a close on Wednesday night at No. 4 Lynchburg College, despite a late fourth-quarter push, in a 13-11 NCAA Division III quarterfinal contest.
Lynchburg opened the game with two goals in the first three minutes to take an early lead, but Salisbury answered to cut the score at the 11:03 mark.
The Hornets scored again to regain their two-goal lead, which held for almost eight minutes, but with 1:21 left in the first quarter, Sean Fitzgerald drove left and strung a pass back though the Hornet defense to the right wing. Junior Thomas Cirillo took the pass and ripped a shot from the right wing to get the Gulls back to within one to close the first quarter.
Just under two minutes into the second quarter, Lynchburg found its fourth goal, but Salisbury quickly tied the game with two goals in two minutes.
At the 12:35 mark, Fitzgerald drove left and ripped a shot into the top-right corner of the cage.
Seventy seconds later, the Gulls used quick passes from right to left around the box, before Cirillo dished from the left wing to the left side of the crease to sophomore Nathan Blondino for a score into the top of the cage.
Lynchburg responded to the tied score with a 5-0 run that lasted over the next nine minutes to take a 9-4 lead with 4:05 left in the half.
Fitzgerald found Kalama on the crease for the Bel Air, Maryland native's second score of the game to cut the Hornets' lead to 9-5, but the Sea Gulls would enter halftime with the four-goal deficit.
At the break, Lynchburg was outshooting the Gulls 24-14, while both teams picked up 13 ground balls in the first half. Salisbury held the advantage in faceoffs winning 9-of-16.
The Hornets scored the first two goals of the third quarter to push their lead to 11-5 with only 5:33 left in the period.
After only managing three previous shots in the quarter, the Sea Gull offense broke through the Lynchburg defense as junior Jake Rotman netted a low shot from the right wing with 1:58 left to cut the score to 11-6 to start the fourth quarter.
Junior James Burton opened the fourth quarter with a score from the right wing into the lower-left corner of the cage two and a half minutes in to get to within four, 11-7, but Lynchburg's Aaron Murphy answered just over two minutes later to regain a five-goal lead.
Salisbury again cut into the lead with a goal from junior Christian Ottenritter with 7:37 left, but the Hornets again answered 19 seconds later to keep distance between the teams.
A transition score from junior Preston Dabbs at the 5:56 mark continued the Sea Gulls' attempt at a comeback, getting the score to 13-9, and senior Mike Kane cut the lead to three with a score on the crease from Fitzgerald 44 seconds later.
Kalama tallied one more goal with 2:15 left to get to within two, as he led the Gulls with three in the game, but the comeback attempt came up just short.
Fitzgerald led the Gulls with four points, tallying one goal and three assists.
Senior Connor Anderson played all 60 minutes in the cage, making six saves in the game.
The Sea Gulls close out a 17-5 campaign with an 8-0 record in the Capital Athletic Conference, along with winning the program's 19th CAC title and advancing to its 26th-straight NCAA quarterfinal round. For more information on the Salisbury men's lacrosse team and Salisbury's other 21 varsity sports, log on to www.suseagulls.com.