The top-ranked Salisbury University men’s lacrosse team took on the 14th-ranked Hornets of the University of Lynchburg in their 2020 home opener on Saturday. The Sea Gulls remained undefeated on the year, securing a 16-10 victory.
Salisbury held two of Lynchburg’s top offensive threats in check for most of the game. Senior midfielders Colin Dean and Kevin Rogers entered the matchup after a 2019 campaign that saw the duo combine for 79 goals.
Senior long-stick midfielder Kevin Murphy took on the matchup with Rogers and stifled the 2019 All-American throughout the game.
Senior defender and defensive captain Drew Borkowicz also played a key role in keeping the defense organized.
Borkowicz said Murphy’s experience against Rogers from last season helped the Gulls defensively.
“Murphy got a chance to play Rogers last year and did a pretty good job, so we felt really comfortable with that matchup,” Borkowicz said.
The Sea Gulls (2-0) faced the Hornets twice last season, once to start the year and once in the NCAA Tournament. Having that experience against their talented midfield, head coach Jim Berkman said, helped form their game plan.
“We obviously didn’t want those guys to have a field day … shutting those two down is definitely the key to beating this team,” Berkman said.
The Sea Gulls also received valuable contributions from a few of their freshmen.
First-year attackman Luke Nestor, a homegrown product of James M. Bennett High School, tallied a goal and an assist on four shots.
Fellow first-years Braden Glushakow and Van Parker registered valuable minutes as well, which Berkman believes will pay dividends as the season rolls on.
After a flurry of offense to put Salisbury up 3-0, the Sea Gull offense stalled, going nine minutes without a goal. This offensive drought opened a window for Lynchburg, and the Hornets would take advantage.
A 4-1 Lynchburg run tied the contest at four apiece.
Salisbury’s offensive struggles would come to an end as the second quarter wound down. The Gulls went on a 3-0 run of their own, including a pair of goals from sophomore midfielder Logan Posner and a turn-around, behind-the-back goal from senior attackman Griffin Moroney.
The Sea Gulls’ 1995 national championship team was honored at halftime on Saturday. Salisbury University Director of Athletics and Recreation Gerry DiBartolo welcomed the Sea Gull alumni onto the field as they hoisted the second of 12 trophies in program history.
Perhaps the halftime ceremony offered some inspiration to the Sea Gulls, as they came out of the locker room firing on all cylinders.
Salisbury’s four-goal lead quickly jumped to seven. Scores from senior midfielder Emory Wongus, senior attackman Cross Ferrara and Moroney made it an 11-4 ball game.
As the second half went on, the Sea Gulls eventually reached a 16-7 lead midway through the fourth quarter.
The Hornets went on a run in the game’s final minutes to cut the Salisbury lead to six, but it proved to be too little, too late.
Despite the graduation of 2019 seniors Tyler Snyder, Corey Gwin and Zack Pompea, the Salisbury offense had little trouble producing on the offensive end. Moroney and junior midfielder Jarrett Bromwell had the answers for Salisbury with four goals each.
This is the first of a long stretch of tough out-of-conference teams for Salisbury. In addition to the strength-of-schedule boost, Berkman said he does this to get his group prepared for conference play and potentially the team’s 31st straight trip to the big dance.
“This is the beginning of a really big stretch … with teams like Gettysburg and Ohio Wesleyan coming up,” Berkman said.
The Sea Gulls will have a brief hiatus before returning to action on Feb. 22 to face ninth-ranked Gettysburg College.
By TOMMY WEST
Featured photo: Brad Boardman image.