SALISBURY, Md. - The third-ranked Sea Gulls play host to fifth-ranked Gettysburg College in the NCAA semifinals with the winner earning a trip to Philadelphia to play in the national championship game.
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How we got here
Salisbury used an overtime goal 37 seconds into the overtime period to defeat Denison University, 11-10, on Wednesday night at Sea Gull Stadium.
Down 4-3 at halftime, Salisbury strung together two seperate three-goal runs in thethird quarter to pull ahead, 9-7, going into the last quarter.
Denison then outscored Salisbury, 3-1, in the fourth quarter, including a goal with 24seconds left in regulation to send the game to overtime.
Salisbury held the edge in most major statisical categories in the game, includingfaceoffs (winning 17-of-24), groundballs (32-20), and shots (39-26).
How they got here
For the second-straight game ,the Bullets were victorious in overtime, this time to advance to the semifinals. After Paul Werner scored the game-winning goal inthe previous contest, it was senior linemate Mike Distler's turn as he scored the game winner to propel the Bullets past York College of Pennsylvania, 7-6.
The Gettysburg defense locked down early and did not concede a Spartan goal until there was 10:41 left in the second quarter.
However, up 3-1 at that point,York went for three more goals ina row to go ahead 4-3, just minutes before the end of the third.
The Bullets' offense came alivein the fourth, going for three straight goals before the Spartans came back with two of their own, including the goal that tied it up tosend things to overtime with under two minutes left in regulation.
In overtime, the Bullets needed one less second than Salisbury did against Denison, as Distler scored the game winner 36 seconds in to send the Bullets off to Salisbury.
Scouting the Bullets
Gettysburg is led by a strong defense that allows under six goals per game. Two seniors in Geoff Davis and Bill McAvoy have started every game at close defense and each have over 30 groundballs and 15 caused turnovers.
Starting the last eight games in net for Gettysburg, Jake Adoni has allowed just 5.28 goals against per contest and has stopped .647 percent of the shots fired his way this season.
On offense, the Bullets all-senior first midfield line of Jameson Smith, Werner, and Distler run the show as all three have over 50 points on the season. The top line is a balanced bunch as well as all three are within six points of each other and all teeter around the 20-asssist mark for the season. For the trio, all of them also have taken over 100 shots on the season.
Adding to the offensive punch, Tommy Heller and Blake Gray have 47 and 37 points, respectively as they each shoot above a .350 percent mark.
The last time we met
The Gulls and Bullets last met earlier this season on February 27 when Salisbury went on the road and came away with a 10-7 victory at Shirk Field at Musselman Stadium.
Down 7-6 in the middle of the third quarter, Salisbury went on a four-goal run to close out the game to come away with the win. James Burton and Nathan Blondino led the way for Salisbury as Burton had one goal and four assists, while Blondino went for three goals in the win.
All-time, the teams have squared off 32 times with Salisbury holding a 25-7 edge. Gettysburg last beat Salisbury last season, taking down the Gulls, 12-6, in an early season battle.
The last time Salisbury and Gettysburg met in the NCAA tournament was during the 2008 season when the Gulls beat the Bullets, 11-10 in double overtime at Sea Gull Stadium as Kylor Berkman scored the game winner.
Two greats clash
Heading into the semifinals, Salisbury's Jim Berkman is the winningest men's lacrosse coach in NCAA history with 487 victories. Sitting in second behind Berkman is Gettysburg's Hank Janczyk with 423 wins. The combined 910 wins is the highest combined total for opposing head coaches in any NCAA lacrosse game ever.
An unstoppable force
Salisbury's offense is firing at a 16.50 goals-per game clip as one of the top scoring units in the nation. The Gulls have combined for 592 points this season, coming from 363 goals and 229 assists.
Firing off 44.4 shots per game, while still having a team shooting percent of .372 has produced one of the most potent offenses in Salisbury history. With Blondino (92 points), Cirillo (80 points), Carson Kalama (76 points), and Burton (74 points), this marks the first season since 2012 that the Gulls have had two players reach 80 points, and the first time since the 2007 season that the team has had four 70-point scorers. Both the 2007 and 2012 teams went wire-to-wire, 23-0, as the national champions.
An unmovable object
The Salisbury defense is one of the most productive in the nation and has a mix of veterans and now-established first-year starters that combine to not just hold opponents to 6.48 goals-per game, but also be in the top five in the nation in stats such as caused turnovers and groundballs.
Starting up top, the Gulls have arguably the top defensive midfield in the country with reigning short-stick specialist of the year Preston Dabbs, along with fellow four-year starter, Davis Anderson. Andrew Ternahan runs as the team's top long-stick midfielder and leads the team in groundballs (94) to go along with 46 caused turnovers.
Down low, Colin Reymann is the Gulls' backstop and is stopping .590 percent of the shots he is seeing, while holding opponents to just 5.92 goals against per game.
In front of Reymann at close defense he has only one returning starter from a season ago in sophomore Will Nowesnick. Nowesnick, along with fellow starter and sophomore Kyle Tucker picked up first-team All-CAC nods this year, while junior Aaron Leeds made it onto the second team. The starting defense has combined for 163 groundballs and 120 caused turnovers, while turning the ball over just 22 times.
The winner of Sunday's game will move onto the NCAA Division III national championship game at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, and take on the winner of the Tufts University St. Lawrence University matchup that takes place at 5 p.m., on Sunday at Tufts.