Salisbury turns tables on Cortland in final

Gulls win fourth title in 5 years

seniors avenge their only loss

Salisbury 15 SUNY Cortland 9

Division III men

May 28, 2007|By Paul McMullen | Paul McMullen,Sun reporter

This time, there will be no nightmares about crossbars hit in overtime, or saves that weren't made.

This time, there will be no taskmaster coach goading his team by replaying the lowlights of a historic loss on a locker room television.

This time, the pertinent question for Salisbury isn't what went wrong, but something more pleasant to consider: Is this the finest Sea Gulls team ever?

Coach Jim Berkman and his Salisbury dynasty made it four NCAA Division III titles in five seasons yesterday before an announced 22,778 at M&T Bank Stadium, where they fell behind early, shrugged off a third-quarter tie and hammered SUNY Cortland, 15-9.

Junior attackman Matt Hickman, the game's Most Outstanding Player, scored five goals and Eric Bishop, from a senior class that avenged its only career loss, collected seven points, as the Sea Gulls (23-0) set NCAA records for wins, goals (417), assists (271) and points (688) in a season.

Berkman's seventh NCAA championship team was his fifth with a perfect record. He challenges his teams by comparing them, so what's the verdict? Is this his best ever?

"I knew that question was coming," Berkman said. "There's a lot of Sea Gull lore, a lot of tradition. The '95 team, that was pretty special. But I told this team, if someone mentions the best team of all time, their name would be in that sentence."

To find a more lopsided Division III title game, go back to that 1995 Salisbury team. It won its final by 11 goals and needed just 17 games to set scoring records that stood until yesterday, when the Sea Gulls made amends for last year.

Berkman took to replaying the denouement of the last year's 13-12 NCAA final loss to SUNY Cortland, when midfielder Matt Dasinger (Franklin) hit the crossbar in overtime.

Goalie Max Zarchin was similarly haunted.

"There were a lot of nights waking up in a cold sweat," Zarchin said. "That loss, in a way, was almost a good thing, to be able to play with a chip on our shoulder all season."

It was Berkman who telephoned Bishop with the news that SUNY Cortland had won a third straight tournament game on the road to become its opponent in the NCAA final.

"I got this big smile on my face," Bishop said. "When I told the guys, they reacted the same way."

There were no grins on his sideline in the first quarter, when SUNY Cortland (15-6) bolted to leads of 2-0 and 4-1. Lynchburg and Roanoke had been the only other opponents to lead Salisbury after one period, but in all three instances, the Sea Gulls responded.

Bishop began and ended a 6-0 run that was the largest allowed by SUNY Cortland this season. It gave Salisbury a 7-4 lead, but the Red Dragons took momentum into the break and tied it just 36 seconds into the third quarter.

Salisbury simply picked itself up again. Kylor Berkman, the coach's son who had three assists, fed Hickman for the go-ahead goal, the first of five unanswered in as many minutes. The Sea Gulls led 12-7 with 8:36 remaining and the rest of the game was a formality, as Zarchin got sharper and his teammates ruled the ground-ball battle.

"Their team speed was the difference," said SUNY Cortland coach Steve Beville, who played and assisted at Washington College in the 1980s.

Berkman praised Kyle Hartzell, a senior out of Archbishop Curley High and CCBC-Essex, who won six ground balls and did not allow Ryan Heath (50 goals, 32 assists) to notch a single point.

"Hartzell was our third long-pole [midfielder] last year," Berkman said. "This fall, we didn't know what to do with him. All of a sudden, the kid has turned into a tyro. He held their best attackman scoreless. His stick on ground balls was ridiculous."

Salisbury won its four NCAA playoff games by eight, six, three and six goals. It ran its record to 4-0 at M&T Bank Stadium, where it also won titles in 2003 and 2004. The freshmen from 2004, a group that includes Bishop and Dasinger, went 83-1 over their four seasons.

"To come out on top with three [NCAA] rings is unbelievable," Bishop said.

"They did something unheard of," Berkman said.

Cortland 4 2 2 1 - 9

Salisbury 2 5 6 2 - 15

Goals: C-Hyde 4, Cittadino, Dutkowsky, Felice, Fuchs, Raymond; S-Hickman 5, Bishop 4, Titus 3, Dasinger 2, Von Kamecke. Assists: C-Fleice, Hyde, Morgan, Simensky; S-Berkman 3, Bishop 3, Dasinger, Edwards, Hickman, Kustron. Saves: C-Robinson 11; S-Zarchin 12. A: 22,778.

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