The Salisbury men’s lacrosse team appeared destined for great things in its 2020 campaign.
Off to a blistering 7-0 start and three wins coming against ranked opponents, the Sea Gulls were flying high.
The attack, headlined by Josh Melton and Cross Ferrara, provided the Sea Gulls with just over 19 goals-per-game. The defense allowed just over 6 tallies in each contest. Then it ended.
Now, thanks to Melton and Ferrara, that offense is back to the top flight in 2021.
By Nick Lewis // Sports editor
The 2020 season was cancelled due to the rapid spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, and a season that seemed on track for a deep run into the National Collegiate Athletic Association tournament was gone.
Over a year later, the Sea Gulls have picked up where they left off. Salisbury holds an 8-1 record and sits second in the national rankings.
Ferrara has also picked up where he left off last March.
In 2020, Ferrara led the team with 26 G and slotted only behind Melton with 32 points. He has remained the most potent attacker for the maroon and gold this year, notching 48 goals in 9 contests thus far.
Ferrara said despite not getting their full season last year, having most of the senior class return with extra eligibility granted by the NCAA has helped them remain a top team in Division III lacrosse.
“When the season was cancelled, it was devastating to everybody, especially the seniors,” Ferrara said. “We’re so tight that more than half of the class came back for another year … that just goes to show how much we love Salisbury lacrosse.”
Seven of the 12 seniors returned for another round in 2021, with a couple transitioning to graduate students as well.
This means the likes of Brett Malamphy, Kevin Murphy, Melton and others returned to help bolster the 2021 squad. Ferrara said this was crucial in the team getting off to such a quick start this season.
“The sky is the limit,” Ferrara said. “With the NCAA granting us all another year of eligibility … we didn’t have to rebuild, just refocused on where we left off last year.”
In Salisbury’s 25-12 victory over Christopher Newport, Ferrara scored four goals and vaulted into the top-10 in program history in career goals, surpassing 2012 graduate Erik Krum.
While he said he is proud of the accomplishment, Ferrara said the credit goes to his peers for putting him in the position to be successful.
“It’s an honor to be on that list with some of the greats that have ever played here,” Ferrara said. “Without my teammates around me doing the work as well, none of it would have been possible.”
Ferrara said after graduating from Appoquinimink, he wanted to play for a strong lacrosse program. He also did not want to relocate to a big city to do so.
That helped him land at Salisbury University.
“I’m not really a city boy, I prefer the country,” Ferrara said. “And Coach Berkman has a legacy of winning. Competing for a National Championship every year, there’s not much more you could ask for out of a program.”
For those who do not arrive to SU men’s lacrosse games early, the team has a pregame ritual of walking onto the field to the “Imperial March” music from Star Wars. Once on the field, the team jogs on, tosses their sticks to the sideline and “Jump Around” to the hit song from House of Pain.
Ferrara has his own routine, and it involves chocolate.
“I always eat a Hershey’s Cookies and Cream candy bar,” Ferrara said.
One thing that was not routine was a loss to open the 2021 season. Salisbury lost the season opener on the road against Lynchburg, 10-8.
The Sea Gulls were missing some important players in the game, which did not help their chances against a solid Hornets team. Still, it is far from typical for the team to drop the opening game of the season.
The next game, the maroon and gold got back on track. Salisbury hit their stride against Southern Virginia University, grabbing a 30-10 victory.
Ferrara, who scored a career-high 11 goals in the winning effort, said that win was his favorite moment of the season thus far.
“Waiting seven days to have another game to come back and get a ‘W,’ that was just eating at me,” Ferrara said. “Getting back on the field again after that and getting the win felt really good.”
By Luke Metrinko // Staff writer
Senior attacker Josh Melton has had a big impact on the Salisbury men’s lacrosse program.
During his time with the team so far, Melton has recorded 304 points, making him tied for third all-time in school history. Melton is one of just five players to ever record 300 points in their Salisbury career, reaching the mark on against Christopher Newport University on April 3.
Melton also ranks third in program history with 156 career assists and is tied for eleventh with 148 career goals. He was named to the All-American First Team in 2019 and played in Salisbury’s last National Championship win in 2017.
Melton said he never expected to find such high levels of success with the Sea Gulls, but he has not done it alone.
“I never thought that I would end up in the place where I was scoring 300 points,” Melton said. “It was a great honor, but I know I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for my teammates.”
Melton is from Centennial, Colorado. Lacrosse has grown in the state of Colorado at a rapid rate over the past two decades.
Growing up, he was part of a large groups of kids to start playing lacrosse in his area. His father also played which helped Melton get invested in the game.
“My dad played in high school and wanted to get me involved with it,” Melton said. “Ever since then, I fell in love with it and knew I wanted to play going forward.”
After graduating from Grandview High School, Melton made the decision to travel almost 1,800 miles to attend Salisbury University.
Melton said he was influenced to come to SU by the winning environment that comes from playing for the all-time winningest coach in all divisions of NCAA lacrosse, Jim Berkman.
“You come here to win,” Melton said. “This team has a fighting chance to win a national championship every year.”
Melton also gives credit for his success to the upperclassmen when he was a freshman.
The teammates that Melton has had over the years, he said, have helped him form into the player he is today.
“Watching the guys ahead of me, seeing how hard they work and how serious they take the game, it helped me a lot,” Melton said.
Melton said he loves the great outdoors. Being from Colorado, Melton enjoys Skiing and fishing in his free time.
He enjoys spending time and competing with his friends, as one of his favorite things to do is play Mario Kart with his roommates.
Melton said before Major League Lacrosse merged with the Premier Lacrosse League, the Denver Outlaws showed interest in him.
Whether he gets the call to suit up at the next level or not, Melton said he wants to keep lacrosse a part of his life.
“If I get the opportunity to play professionally, I'll do it,” Melton said. “But if it doesn't work out, I want to be able to give back to the game in any way that I can.”
By Nick Lewis and Luke Metrinko
Sports editor and staff writer
Photos courtesy of Sports Information.