Gulls Roll

Mustangs Unravel

Rounding Into Top Form, Salisbury Hands Stevenson Its First Loss Of Season And Earns Berth In Ncaa Tournament

Cac Title Game No. 10 Salisbury 13, No. 1 Stevenson 5

April 20, 2009|By Mike Preston | Mike Preston,mike.preston@baltsun.com

Attackmen Jake DeLillo and Matt Cannone combined for seven goals, and visiting Salisbury held Stevenson scoreless for the first half as the No. 10 Sea Gulls easily defeated No. 1 and previously unbeaten Stevenson, 13-5, in the Capital Athletic Conference championship game in Owings Mills.

Salisbury (14-3), the defending Division III champion, won its 15th consecutive conference championship and avenged a 12-8 loss to Stevenson (14-1) this season.

The Sea Gulls looked as if they were rounding into their usual championship form while the Mustangs appeared to be doing the opposite. Stevenson had numerous unforced turnovers and never had an offensive rhythm as the Mustangs played too much one-on-one. This might have been Stevenson's worst performance of the year.

By the end of the game, Stevenson had imploded with 10 penalties for 12 minutes, 30 seconds.

"Salisbury has been in this game a lot," Stevenson coach Paul Cantabene said. "They executed a lot better than we did, and we looked tight and nervous. I just told our kids I was disappointed with the way we played. It's not always about the W and L's but how you handle yourselves, and we didn't show that today, especially with some of those unsportsmanlike-conduct penalties at the end."

It might have been out of frustration. The Sea Gulls' close defense of Collin Tokosch, Kevin Maynard and Jeff Breeding was excellent in shutting down the Mustangs' attack. Stevenson didn't score until midfielder Nick Bevacqua put the ball into the net with 9:11 left in the third quarter.

Until then, Salisbury had taken away Stevenson's transition game and a lot of its feeds inside to the crease.

"Coming into the game, our goals were not to give up any easy transition goals," Salisbury coach Jim Berkman said. "We also didn't want to give anything up on the crease because they do an excellent job of feeding inside. No. 3, we wanted to get more shots on goal. The last time we played them, we took a lot of shots, but most of those were way off goal."

It wasn't that way Sunday. DeLillo put the Sea Gulls up with two goals in the first quarter. He added a third for a 3-0 lead with 13:37 left in the second quarter, and after attackman Stephen Krasco converted off an extra-man situation, Salisbury had a 4-0 lead with 11:58 left in the half.

It just kept getting worse for the Mustangs as Salisbury scored almost every way possible from there on out, from catching deflections of shots to scooping up loose balls outside the crease to running fast breaks. Stevenson tried to press the ball defensively going into the fourth quarter without much success as Salisbury led 9-2 after three quarters.

For the Sea Gulls, this win was sweet revenge.

"We didn't talk about that a lot, but I'm sure revenge was on everybody's mind," Salisbury midfielder and faceoff specialist Ryan Finch said. " ... When we were losing, we weren't playing team lacrosse, but I think we're getting our heads back together. We came out today wanting to play basic lacrosse, and if we did the little things, we thought we would win."

With the conference championship, Salisbury gets an automatic bid to the 22-team NCAA tournament. Cantabene said he believes his team will receive an at-large bid based partially on big wins over Gettysburg, Lynchburg and Salisbury.

"I think our chances are pretty good of getting a bid," Cantabene said. "Maybe we'll get a chance to see them [Salisbury] again. The key for us is to learn from our mistakes so that when we play again, those same mistakes won't happen again."

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