SALISBURY -- Salisbury State completed its first undefeated regular season and ended a 12-game losing streak against rival Washington College yesterday with a 20-4 lacrosse victory.
The rout of the Shoremen -- playing without 10 players suspended before the season for drinking -- should keep Salisbury (13-0) in the No. 1 spot in the United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association's Division III poll. The victory also should guarantee that the Sea Gulls will have the home-field advantage throughout the Division III playoffs. Playoff seedings will be announced May 5.
It was a reunion of sorts for Washington's All-America goalie Dave Slomkowski, formerly a two-year starter at Salisbury. Slomkowski, who stopped 24 shots, was under attack all game by Rick Berkman, Rusty Pritzlaff and Eric Ungleich.
Salisbury's top three point producers combined for 16 goals and 10 assists. For the season, Berkman led the attack in points with 93 (56 goals, 37 assists). Ungleich wasn't far behind with 89 points, and Pritzlaff capped off his season with 71 points.
Timely passing around the crease was the key to the Salisbur attack. Three times early in the game, Pritzlaff took a pass from the left side of the crease on fast breaks, hesitated, then passed to the right side to an unguarded Berkman, who did the damage.
"Eric [Ungleich] usually gets the ball on the fast break, and if he decides to come to me, I draw their defense toward me," said Berkman (nine goals). "That leaves Rusty [Pritzlaff] open on the back side, and when a man slides to him, he shuffles it off to me for a goal."
Fifteen first-half saves by Slomkowski kept the Shoremen (3-7) within striking distance, as they trailed, 6-3, at the half. But when Berkman scored three consecutive goals early in the fourth quarter, the Sea Gulls assumed full control. His fifth goal of the quarter at 9 minutes, 51 seconds was his ninth of the contest and made the score 18-4.
Berkman, a nephew of Salisbury head coach Jim Berkman, came within two goals of tying a 14-year-old Salisbury scoring record held by now Loyola head coach Dave Cottle. Cottle scored 11 goals in a game against the University of Baltimore.
The Sea Gulls began their assault early in the third quarter when Ungleich spun around and rifled a shot past Slomkowski from 10 feet out. Things only got worse for the Shoremen as Salisbury scored 10 of the game's final 13 goals.
"We run-and-gun. Our attack pushes the ball; that's our game," Berkman said. "Slom's [Slomkowski] the best goalie in Division III, and our coach had a lot of shooting drills this week where we worked on hesitation and faking shots. I guess it worked pretty well."
Salisbury's pressure on both sides of the field during loose-ball situations wore down Washington. Coach Berkman said it was a key reason for the Sea Gulls' success.
"We continued to put pressure on them all over the field, and then they started to wear down," the Salisbury coach said. "A key in the second half was putting two men on one of theirs. They started to get tired, and their lack of depth began to hurt them."