Salisbury State gets wish, with final against defending champ Hobart

May 18, 1991|By Mike Preston | Mike Preston,Sun Staff Correspondent

SALISBURY -- For quite a few members of Salisbury State University's undefeated and No. 1-ranked lacrosse team, a national championship would be tainted without playing Hobart, which has won the past 11 Division III titles.

"We're anxious to play Hobart," said Salisbury midfielder Artie Morley. "It's nice playing the champions for the national championship. It would be nice being part of the team that brings the dynasty down."

Salisbury (15-0) gets its shot at No. 5 Hobart (7-6) today (1:30 p.m.) at Sea Gulls Stadium in the National Collegiate Athletic Association Division III national championship game.

Midseason reports had Hobart rebuilding this season. Postseason comments have the Statesmen on course for another championship.

"They're now playing as a Hobart team usually does," said Nazareth coach Scott Nelson, whose team lost to Hobart earlier in the playoffs. "They're hustling, riding like crazy and scooping up every loose ball in sight.

"If I had to pick, I would pick Hobart. It's just something about them."

But it's that aura of near invincibility in Division III that motivates Salisbury. After all, it is Salisbury that is undefeated and ranked No. 1. It is Salisbury that beat Ohio Wesleyan last weekend, a team that knocked off Hobart earlier this season.

Plus, the Sea Gulls are playing at home, and last year they lost to Hobart, 23-5, in the semifinals.

"Anxious, but not intimidated," said Morley.

Salisbury coach Jim Berkman said: "We don't want to get caught up in all the hoopla. I've told my kids to go out, have some fun and play the way they have all year."

Salisbury loves to run and gun. So does Hobart, which also plays a better deliberate game than the Sea Gulls. A key point is Hobart's full-pressure ride when Salisbury attempts to clear for its powerful transition game.

"Hobart rides better than any team Salisbury has faced," said Clarkson coach Bill Bergan, whose team lost to both this season. "If Salisbury can handle the pressure and get it down the offensive end, they are going to score some goals, because I think Hobart is concerned with its goalkeeping.

"Another key is depth. I don't know if Salisbury has as much as Hobart," Clarkson said. "And then there is Miller, who has been impossible to stop."

Stopping Hobart attackman Bill Miller is at the top of Salisbury's agenda. Miller has 45 goals and 28 assists this season. Fellow attackman Tim DeLoe has 35 goals.

"They are awfully good," said Berkman. "I think the main key is for us to control the faceoffs, because Hobart has a great, great attack. But our game plan is not to slow it down; that's not our style. We don't want to change what we have been successful with all season."

Salisbury will try to slow down Hobart's attack with its seemingly endless amount of midfielders. The Sea Gulls use four lines. The Sea Gulls have two excellent goalkeepers in Scott Bentkowski and Geoff Sanders, both of whom have a save percentage of more than 60 percent.

Offensively, Salisbury is led by attackmen Rusty Pritzlaff, Rick Berkman (60 goals) and Eric Ungleich (47).

Hobart coach B. J. O'Hara sounds impressed with the entire Salisbury team.

"Some people have turned their nose up at Salisbury State in terms of its schedule, but since its opener they've easily passed every test," O'Hara said. "They're for real."

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