When Salisbury State University lacrosse coach Jim Berkman watches Ohio Wesleyan play, he sees an offense similar to his own.
Today, Berkman has to find a way to defend against it when the No. 1 Sea Gulls travel to and play No. 2 Ohio Wesleyan in the National Collegiate Athletic Association Division III semifinals at 4 p.m.
Salisbury (14-0) and Ohio Wesleyan (13-3) rely on the transition game and both run with at least three midfields. The Battling Bishops have outscored opponents, 263-160, while Salisbury has 252-107 scoring edge.
"Both teams like to push it up, and it could be a high-scoring game," said Berkman. "When you look at Ohio Wesleyan, you're immediately impressed with their athletes. A lot, though, will depend on the shot selection and who has the hot goalkeeper."
The Battling Bishops started slowly this season, losing their first three games, including a 24-4 loss to Loyola. Ohio Wesleyan first-year coach Lelan Rogers took part of the blame as he installed a new offense. Gone was the patient, deliberate style of previous Battling Bishops team and implemented was the run-and-gun attack of Syracuse, where Rogers was an assistant the previous three seasons.
"We have a lot of seniors on our team, and they learned only one method for four years," said Rogers. "They expected one thing and we expected another. Finally, we got to a point where we had the meeting of the minds. Now we just run, gun and try to have some fun."
Since then, Ohio Wesleyan has been on an offensive roll. The Battling Bishops are paced by attackmen Rich Franz (45 goals, 40 assists), Bill Bishop (27, 39) and Mike Arlin (35, 8). They also have received solid play from goalkeeper Rich Flynn (.617 save percentage), a two-time All-American.
Salisbury will counter with attackmen Rick Berkman (56, 38), Eric Ungleich (44, 49) and midfielders Kevin Hohner (16, 17) and Chris Boyle (24, 8). The Sea Gulls have two excellent goalkeepers in Scott Bentkowski (.637) and Geoff Sanders (.722). Bentkowski starts the first half and Sanders the second.