Men's lacrosse hosts Catholic in NCAA first round

Men's lacrosse hosts Catholic in NCAA first round

SALISBURY, Md.- The No. 3 Salisbury University men's lacrosse team plays host to Catholic University of America for an NCAA tournament first round matchup. The game is set for Wednesday, May 11 at 4 p.m.

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How we got here

Salisbury received an at-lard bid into the tournament following a 10-9 loss in the Capital Athletic Conference championship game to York College of Pennsylvania. The Spartans played the Gulls tough in the first half, outscoring them 6-3.

The Gulls attempt at a second-half comeback was stopped just short however. Nick Garbarino added three goals in the closing two quarters and Nathan Blondino brought the Gulls to within one with 1:17 left in the fourth quarter but the Gulls could not add another to force overtime.

How they got here

Catholic won the Landmark Conference to earn the conference's automatic bid into the NCAA tournament. In the championship game, Tim Keith played hero, scoring the overtime game winner over Elizabethtown College with three seconds left in the first extra stanza to send the Cardinals dancing.

Matt Michalski led the game with seven groundballs as he won 15 of the 28 faceoffs he took, while goalkeeper Harrison Holak stopped 15 shots to grab the win.

Scouting the Cardinals

Keith leads the offensive charge for the Cardinals with 67 points coming from 49 goals and 18 assists. Catholic also features a pair of players who supplement Keith's production with over 40 points each. Victor Licata has 34 goals and 13 assists for 47 points, while Bennett Bradley has 30 goals and 14 assists for 44 points.

Holak has started all 17 games for the Cardinals, stopping .611 percent of the shots fired his way and allowing 9.02 goals per contest. Michalski leads the team in groundballs with 73, winning 156 of the 302 faceoffs (.516 percent) he has taken this season.

The last time we met

The last time the teams met was during the 2007 CAC playoffs as the Cardinals used to be a member before joining the Landmark. In the first-round showdown, Salisbury took the 27-2 victory over the Cardinals before eventually winning the CAC and National Championship that season.

Dominating defense

Of the Gulls top seven on the defensive end, the only member to not be named All-CAC was keeper Colin Reymann, who missed a large portion of the games early on in the season and now sits atop the CAC in both goals-against average (5.52) and save percentage (.624 percent).

At the close defense, sophomores Will Nowesnick and Kyle Tucker both made it onto the CAC first team, while Aaron Leeds was put on the All-CAC second team. All three down low have over 40 groundballs and 25 caused turnovers.

At the defensive midfield, Salisbury swept the All-Conference honors as Andrew Ternahan and Preston Dabbs were named All-CAC first team at long-stick midfield and short-stick midfield, respectively. Davis Anderson picked up the second-team nod at the short-stick defensive midfield position.

First round success    

In his 28th season at the helm, Head Coach Jim Berkman has coached just one team that has not made it past the first round of the NCAA tournament. The lone Berkman-coached bunch that did not make it past the first round was in his inaugural season as the head coach in 1989.

Since the 1989 season, Salisbury has made the tournament every year, including winning 10 NCAA national championships.

Two sides of the story

Salisbury comes in as not just the third-ranked team in the nation, but also ranking near the top of the nation in several major statistical categories on both sides of the ball.

On offense, Salisbury has the most assists in the nation (201), second-highest scoring margin (10.26), second-highest shooting percentage (.380 percent), and the fifth-best scoring offense at 16.68 goals per game.

On the defensive end, the dominating defense has held opponents to just 6.42 goals per game (eighth in the nation), while scooping up the fourth most groundballs in the country (731) and forcing the fourth most caused turnovers per game (13.68).

What's next?

The winner of today's contest will move onto the second round of the NCAA Division III tournament on Saturday, May 14, playing the winner of the Colorado College vs. Whittier College matchup.

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