Season Preview: Men's lacrosse eyes redemption year in 2019

Season Preview: Men's lacrosse eyes redemption year in 2019

SALISBURY, Md. - The Salisbury University men's lacrosse team is coming off a season in which it got off to a 6-3 start but righted the ship behind a 14-game win streak en route to its 21st Capital Athletic Conference Championship and an appearance in the national title game. The Sea Gulls are looking to build off that momentum and magical run as they prepare for the 2019 season, setting their sights on taking home the hardware this time around.

"It's the reverse of last year," Head Coach Jim Berkman said. "Last year we had a veteran defense and a brand new offense. This year is totally the opposite, we lost two starting defensemen, who were drafted and two starting defensive midfielders."

However, on the offensive side Berkman has been impressed by what he saw during the fall season and knows that unit will be the strength of the 2019 team.

"Everyone is back on offense other than Garrett Reynolds, so scoring shouldn't be as much of a grind as it was early in 2018," Berkman said. "Everyone is much improved and by having the ability to score that will certainly buy our defense time to mature in order to be successful late in the season."  

Defense

The defense will be younger than it has been in the past few years for the maroon and gold, led by Brad Apgar, Drew Borkowicz, and Noah Kness to help fill in the vacancies.

"Apgar saw some valuable time last year including half of the national championship game," Berkman said. "He is a good defenseman, is six-four, and athletic." He appeared in 15 games, picking up 12 groundballs and causing eight turnovers.

Kness, according to Berkman, is the team's best one-on-one defenseman.

"He's an aggressive and hardnosed kid we are counting on and he had a great fall," Berkman said.

Borkowicz gained valuable playing time and experience last season and returns as one of the primary leaders for the entire defensive unit in 2019. 

The unit will be bolstered by the play of freshmen Logan Ritsema and Thomas Ballard. Ritsema caught the eye of Berkman in fall ball, who he compared to 2014 graduate Zeke Smith, as a player with great size and stick skills. 

Another key contributor returning to the defense will be senior captain Parker Stevens. Stevens will be the top defensive midfielder for Salisbury this season after turning in a solid junior year campaign in which he appeared in 24 games, scoring three goals and tallying three assists while also scooping up 11 groundballs and causing six turnovers. Junior Brad Greik will join Stevens on the defensive midfield unit coming off a sophomore season in which he played in 20 games, scooping up 18 groundballs, causing seven turnovers, and netting one goal. Stevens and Greik will be joined by junior transfer Riley Ford, who will round out the unit adding both experience and depth.

The long-stick midfield position will be led by Kevin Murphy, who appeared in 19 games in which he scooped up 41 groundballs and caused 24 turnovers. For his efforts, Murphy was named First Team All-CAC and Second Team Intercollegiate Men's Lacrosse Coaches Association Mid-Atlantic All-Region Team.

Murphy will be joined by Matt O'Callaghan and Jackson Woodward.

"O'Callaghan is a bigger, faster, and stronger type player at the long-stick midfield position," Berkman said.

Berkman also had high praise for Woodward stating, "he is a hard-working kid in the weight room and is a really good groundball guy with a great stick in transition. He reminds me a lot of Andrew Ternahan." 

Midfield 

Leading the midfield unit will be four players Sea Gull fans saw a lot of last season in Corey Gwin, Jarrett Bromwell, Emory Wongus, and Zach Pompea.

"Coming out of fall ball Corey, Jarrett, and Emory really gelled well together as a unit," Berkman said. "That was a really good midfield line."

There is potential for a four headed monster at the first midfield line that could present multiple options for the maroon and gold.

Gwin, who earned Second Team All-American honors and received IMLCA Mid-Atlantic All-Region accolades, was both the team's leading scorer and points leader, netting 49 goals and totaling 68 points. Bromwell will continue to build off a successful freshman year campaign in which he tallied 13 goals and 18 total points while playing in 21 games. Meanwhile, Wongus and Pompea combined for 65 total goals and 31 assists.

Tyler Snyder and Austin Short spearhead the second line of midfielders.

"Snyder had arguably his best fall to date," Berkman said. "He played really well. He is using his body and size a little bit more to get to the goal and was overall a lot more consistent."

Short, who is coming off a good junior year campaign in which he scored 17 goals and totaled 20 points in 24 games, will be another key piece for the midfield unit.

Joining Snyder and Short will be freshman Joe Saulino, who is a great young player and can be a key contributor to the midfield unit.

"This season's second line could be one of our best second midfield lines in recent memory," Berkman said.     

Rounding out the midfield unit are the faceoff midfielders. The faceoff group sees both T.J. Logue and Brett Malamphy return, who turned in solid seasons for the maroon and gold. Combined they won 314 of 526 faceoffs to post a win percentage of 59.6.

Attack

After taking some time early in the 2018 season to get going, the attack unit became one of the most formidable in Division III lacrosse.

"On attack we have three guys that have a great deal of experience," Berkman said.

Josh Melton, Cross Ferrara, and Pierre Armstrong will all be looked at to contribute to the unit. Together the three players combined for 58 goals, 76 assists, and 59 games played.

Melton, who has been a two-year starter for the maroon and gold, drew high praise from Berkman as the coach stated, "he has a high lacrosse IQ and is the general down there for us."

Ferrara, who tallied a big assist for the marron and gold in the national semifinal game against Gettysburg College, is a "bigger, faster, and stronger kid with a cannon right hand who had a great fall," Berkman said.

Armstrong has gotten bigger and stronger, is shooting the ball much better, and exhibited great vision this fall according to Berkman.

Ryan Brown, who rounds out the group, will also be looked at to aid the attack unit. Brown made some big strides during his freshman season in which he scored two goals in just 10 games played.   

Goalie

A position that saw some change last season as two different starters were named during the season but eventually the job was secured by now junior, Brandon Warren.

"He finished the fall number one and had a solid fall ball," Berkman said.

Warren completed his sophomore season with a 17-2 record, a save percentage of 54.1, and a goals against average of 6.52. For his efforts he was named Second Team All-CAC.

Warren will be challenged by transfer T.J. Ellis, who will serve as the primary back up while Chandler Dabbs will be the third goalie on the depth chart.

"Ellis is very acrobatic and makes a lot of saves in tight," Berkman said. "He is emotional but when he gets hot he is tough to score on."

Schedule

Once again, the Sea Gulls will play one of the most competitive schedules in all of Division III.

"The schedule is just killer," Berkman said. "I mean you look at the schedule and it is just all the top teams straight through basically every Saturday."

It includes tournament teams and is highlighted by home games against national semifinalist Gettysburg and nationally ranked top-10 CAC opponents York College of Pennsylvania and Christopher Newport University. Salisbury will travel to Eastern Shore rival Washington College for the annual "War on the Shore." Additionally the Sea Gulls will travel to Stevenson University and Cabrini University for primetime contests under the lights.

"Overall, this team reminds me of our 2016 team with a young defense having two sophomores and junior starting down there," Berkman said. That unit came along throughout the season and helped propel the team to a national championship and "hopefully we will find ourselves back there again this year."

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