To no one’s surprise, the Salisbury University men’s lacrosse team is off to yet another strong start. Jim Berkman’s squad is undefeated on the season with a 9-0 record, including a ranked win over No. 6 Gettysburg College.
Much credit to the Sea Gulls’ early success should be attributed to none other than their goalkeeper Brandon Warren. Allowing an average of 7.1 goals per game, the junior has been a brick wall for Salisbury during this stretch.
Warren, a 6’1” and 190-lb. goalie out of Calvert Hall, says he relies on his defense to make plays in front of him to make his job easier.
“The defense has really been giving me shots that I can see well,” said Warren. “They’ve also done a good job forcing outside shots instead of inside shots that are more difficult to save.”
Communication is key between Warren and the defense.
“It’s something we work on in practice. We talk a lot to make sure we are always in the right position,” Warren said.
Coming off a stellar sophomore campaign, Warren says he’s still looking to improve.
“I’ve been getting a lot of practice in and definitely look to do even better than last year,” Warren said.
In his sophomore season, the goalkeeper accumulated 125 saves over 21 games played — going 17-2 as a starter.
While the 2018 season was a considerable success for Warren, it consisted of many peaks and valleys for him and the rest of the team.
During the beginning of the 2018 season, the goalie position was a huge question mark for Salisbury. Anthony Stavrakis started the season in goal for the Sea Gulls. After Stavrakis struggled through the first few games of the season, Berkman called on Warren to step up and win the position — and that’s exactly what he did.
Warren’s first start of the season came against Kenyon College, in which Salisbury dominated with a 20-2 victory. The next week, Salisbury hosted No. 15 Stevenson University in a narrow 9-7 win in which Warren played well, saving 56 percent of shots on goal.
By this point in the season, the job officially belonged to Warren.
But only two weeks later, the Sea Gulls traveled to take on No. 2 York College. Salisbury was handed its most devastating loss of the season, falling by a score of 15-6. Warren struggled mightily against the York offense, giving up 13 goals on only 22 shots. He was benched for Chandler Dabbs with 11 minutes remaining in the game.
After this disappointing performance, it was time for Warren to redeem himself. Despite his struggles, confidence was never lost among fellow teammates and Berkman. They believed in him, and he responded.
Salisbury would end up going on a 14-game win streak that took the team all the way to the national championship game. During this improbable run, the Sea Gulls gave up an average of 7.9 goals per game. This was all thanks in large part to remarkable play in goal by Warren.
The Sea Gulls unfortunately fell to Wesleyan University in the national championship game by a score of 8-6. Even in this game, Warren was phenomenal, saving 58 percent of shots on goal.
His impressive play during the win streak garnered much warranted expectations toward an even better 2019 season.
When asked about some goals he had for the season, he answered about how you’d expect somebody who lost the national championship game last year to answer.
“At the end of the season, I definitely want to win the [national championship],” said Warren. “I think that’s definitely the biggest goal for all of us right now.”
He then went on to elaborate about some goals that he had for himself.
“I want to be an All-American, I want to be First Team CAC,” said Warren. “I think those are things that I can definitely accomplish.”
The story of Warren throughout his career here at Salisbury has been a story of redemption. From beating out multiple veterans to becoming the backup goalkeeper as a freshman to turning around his play to take the Sea Gulls all the way to the championship game, Warren has always been somebody who plays best when he’s doubted.
The Sea Gulls will look to continue their excellent play as they travel to face Cabrini University on Wednesday at 7 p.m. The Sea Gulls will then play at the University of Mary Washington on March 30 and play away at Frostburg State University on April 6. Salisbury will return home on April 10 to take on Christopher Newport University.
By TOMMY WEST
Featured photo: Defenseman Noah Kness and goalkeeper Brandon Warren. February 23 (Marshall Haas image).