Cortland halts 69-game Salisbury streak, wins title

SUNY Cortland 13 Salisbury 12

Division III


PHILADELPHIA -- NCAA Division III men's lacrosse has a new ruler.

When the helmets, sticks and gloves of players from SUNY Cortland flew into the air after Mike Felice's game-winner with 2.2 seconds remaining in overtime, the long reign of Salisbury had officially ended with a 13-12 defeat yesterday at Lincoln Financial Field.

The result halted the three-year championship run of the top-seeded Sea Gulls, whose 69-game winning streak - the longest ever in lacrosse in any college division - was ended in a heartbeat before a record 23,990 fans for the divisions II and III doubleheader.

Cortland (18-3) captured its first Division III title and halted a 31-year absence from the championship podium. The Red Dragons won their previous crown in 1975 as a Division II member.

"Not losing for 2 1/2 , three years, it hurts," said Salisbury senior Ryan Rohde. "It's hard to explain. We had our opportunities and couldn't get it done. Everyone feels partially responsible."

It was a pulsating game that was punctuated by 11 ties, a host of fast-break goals on both sides and a massive performance by the Red Dragons' 5-foot-11, 260-pound goalie Ben Gaebel, who was peppered with 49 Salisbury shots and was credited with 18 saves. He made two crucial stops, one at the end of regulation and one in overtime that prevented a loss.

"Their goalie came up huge," said Sea Gulls coach Jim Berkman, whose team had not lost since April 10, 2003, when Lynchburg prevailed at Salisbury. "You need a great goalie effort to beat a great team and they got it."

Gaebel made what amounted almost to a kick save against Kylor Berkman with 10 seconds to go in regulation to preserve a 12-12 tie that had been produced 47 seconds earlier on an odd goal. While falling forward about 10 yards away, Cortland's Ryan Simensky lobbed a shot toward the Salisbury goal and the ball cleared a stick, then amazingly went into the cage past goalie Max Zarchin (St. Mary's).

"One of our guys slid in front of the ball with his head," explained Berkman. "Max didn't actually see it."

In the extra period, Salisbury (20-1) had five shots, two sailing wide, one hitting the post and two landing in Gaebel's stick as saves. After the final attempt, the Red Dragons got the ball with 22.8 seconds left. The Sea Gulls did not challenge a long clearing pass from Gaebel to Chris Hannon and then the ball went to Felice at the left side of the net.

Felice, who had three goals and two assists, was named the Most Outstanding Player, but the award could have easily gone to Gaebel.

Salisbury played virtually the entire game without one of its better players, All-America midfielder Mike Hurley, who was injured with less than four minutes gone and was on crutches the rest of the day. Attackman Dan Boyer (Mount St. Joseph), midfielder Chase Caruso and defenseman Chris Heier (Fallston) also were named first-team All-Americans yesterday.

"We're celebrating one of the greatest streaks in the history of college lacrosse," said Berkman. "We have no regrets."

Cortland 3 3 5 1 1 - 13

Salisbury 3 4 4 1 0 -- 12

Goals: C-Heath 4, Felice 3, R. Simensky 3, Lambert, Abbott, Atkins; S-Gonzalez 3, Creighton 2, Rohde 2, Dasinger 2, Bishop, Edwards, Boyer. Assists: C-Felice 2, Lambert, 2, Abbott, Heath, Hyde, O'Connell, K. Simensky, R. Simensky; S-Berkman 3, Creightdon 2, Bishop, Rohde, Sheridan, Yoder. Saves: C-Gaebel 18; S-Zarchin 6.

Longest NCAA win streaks

School, sport Games

N. Carolina women's soccer 92

UCLA men's basketball 88

Wash.-St. Louis women's bask. 81

UConn women's basketball 70

Salisbury men's lacrosse 69

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