SALISBURY, Md. – The second-ranked Salisbury University men's lacrosse team will host ninth-ranked Denison University in the NCAA Quarterfinals on Wednesday, May 15 at 7 p.m. a Sea Gull Stadium. It is the fourth time since 2014 and third time in the quarterfinal round these two teams have met.
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How we got here
Salisbury advanced to the quarterfinals after defeating No. 19 University of Lynchburg, 18-10, on Saturday, May 11 in third round action. After falling behind 2-0 early in the first quarter the Sea Gulls rallied back, outscoring the Hornets 10-3 for the remainder of the first half, including 5-1 in the second quarter. Zach Pompea led the maroon and gold with a team-best five points behind a two-goal and three-assist performance. Brandon Warren helped lead a solid defensive performance recording 10 saves while Kevin Murphy finished with a team-high three caused turnovers.
How they got here
Denison advanced to the quarterfinal round behind an 11-7 victory over Rhodes College on May 11. The Big Red jumped out to a 5-0 lead, led by two goals from Thomas Pittroff, who finished with a team-best three goals and team-high five points. Rhodes managed to cut the deficit to just one, 5-4. However, a 5-0 run between the second and third quarters as Owen Armstrong found the back of the cage twice during the scoring spree put the game out of reach. Four different players recorded caused turnovers for Denison, while Sophomore goalie Reeves McKenney posted 13 saves in the cage for the Big Red.
Scouting the Big Red
Pittroff leads the team with 109 points in 2019, scoring 31 goals and dishing out a team-best 78 assists, while his mark of 3.90 assists per game ranks second in the country. The Denison offense is also powered by Spencer Butler, who has netted a team-high 65 goals. McKenney has been solid in the cage, posting a goals-against average of 9.08 while totaling a save percentage of 55.9, which ranks first in the North Coast Athletic Conference. Overall, the Denison offense is averaging 16.40 goals per game while the defense has limited teams to a goals-against mark of 8.60, which ranks in the top 30 in the country.
This will be the 26th meeting between the Sea Gulls and the Big Red with the maroon and gold claiming the last six. This contest will mark the first meeting since May 21, 2017 and will be the fourth time in the last six years these two teams have met in the NCAA Tournament. Salisbury claimed the 2014 quarterfinal round meeting by the final score of 15-5, and also took home the win in 2016 in thrilling fashion as Tom Cirillo netted the game-winning marker in overtime to win 11-10.
Last time we met
It is almost exactly two years to the day since the last time these two teams met, when No. 7 Denison and No. 1 Salisbury battled to the very end with the Sea Gulls earning the hard fought and thrilling 12-11 victory in the national semifinals. Salisbury jumped out to a 7-4 halftime lead after a four-goal second quarter that saw Nick Garbarino score two of his team-high five markers for the afternoon. However, the Big Red didn't go away quietly and rallied back behind a seven-goal second half and five-goal fourth quarter that saw Denison pull within one, 12-11, with 2:05 left to play. On the final offensive possession of the game, Denison attempted to feed the crease but Aaron Leeds registered the fifth of his five caused turnovers to help Salisbury run out the clock and hold on to win, advancing to the 2017 National Championship.
X marks the spot
Tomorrow's game will feature two of the premiere faceoff specialists in the nation as Brett Malamphy will go head to head with Henry DeCamp. Both players are amongst the top specialists in the nation with Malamphy ranked seventh in faceoff win percentage, 72.7, and DeCamp 22nd, 65.9. Malamphy's 320 faceoff wins is second-best in the country while both players ranked among the top three in their respective conferences throughout the season in both faceoff wins and groundballs with Malamphy scooping up 210 groundballs thus far while DeCamp has picked up 114.
The winner of tonight's game will advance to the 2019 NCAA Division III Men's Lacrosse National Semifinal to be played on Sunday, May 19. Salisbury or Denison will take on the winner of the York College of Pennsylvania and Cabrini University quarterfinal contest, also being played tomorrow tonight, to earn the right to advance to Lincoln Financial Field for the 2019 National Championship.