SALISBURY, Md. – The moment has arrived that the men's soccer team has set focus to all season, against an opponent that holds a four-year reign of the title; the Capital Athletic Conference championship match between No. 9 Salisbury University and No. 16 York (Pa.) College.
The top-seeded Sea Gulls host the second-seeded Spartans on Saturday, Nov. 9, for the conference title match at SU Soccer Complex. The game is set to begin at 2 p.m.
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How we got here
Salisbury advanced past Frostburg State University in the semifinal match on Wednesday, Nov. 6, with a late-game goal by junior captain Stephen Poorman to give the Sea Gulls a 1-0 shutout victory over the Bobcats. Junior forward Tanner East recorded the assist on the play, serving in a backside-post cross off a free kick on the right side of the 18-yard box.
How they got here
York advanced past Christopher Newport University, 3-1 in penalty kicks after playing to a 2-2 draw through two overtime periods. The Captains drew first blood putting the ball in the back of the net twice early in the second half, but the Spartans brought the score even in the 72nd minute with back-to-back goals. In penalty kicks, York goalkeeper Brad Schmidt turned away three of the four attempts by CNU to advance to the finals.
This is the 38th meeting between the two programs, with the Sea Gulls holding a 24-10-3 edge in the series. At home, Salisbury has defended its turf sporting a 14-7-1 record. Taking the pitch for the match will be the eighth clash between the conference rivals in the conference championship, as the Spartans possess four of the titles.
The last time we met
On a rainy Saturday afternoon on Oct. 19, the Sea Gulls defeated York, 3-1, to break a nine-game winning streak by the Spartans. York's Tobi Iguade tallied the first goal of the game, putting the Spartans up 1-0 heading into halftime. Salisbury never looked back after finding the back of the net three times in the second half off goals by East and seniors Trevor Sharpe and Adam Quigley. Since the match, both teams have remained unbeaten, as the Sea Gulls enter the championship match riding a 12-game winning streak.
Great wall of defense
Salisbury enters today's match only allowing seven goals on the season with 14 shutouts. Sophomore goalkeeper Drew Staedeli has started all 19 contests for the Gulls with a record of 17-2 overall and a 0.39 goals-against average (fifth in the nation). The defense led by junior captain Kyle Westbrook and Logan Becker has guided Salisbury to a second-ranked shutout percentage in the nation (.74), while ranking fourth in team goals-against average (0.36).
Streaking to the title?
The Sea Gulls are riding a 12-game winning streak entering the championship match, searching for the all elusive 13th to break the program record. Salisbury has reached 12-consecutive victories twice in program history, with the most recent in 2003.
After falling to the Gulls on Oct. 19, the Spartans have remained undefeated concluding the regular season with victories over Penn State University-Harrisburg, Southern Virginia University, and Frostburg State. Advancing past CNU in Wednesday's semifinal match, York has entered the conference finals for the fifth-consecutive year claiming the past four titles. Sophomore Brendan Saberton leads the Spartans with seven goals on the season, while senior Chris Weaver recorded eight assists.
The winner of the conference championship will receive an automatic bid to the NCAA soccer tournament, while the runner-up will await news on entrance to the national tournament during Selection Monday on Nov. 11.