Nearly three weeks ago, after Salisbury had embarrassed Stevenson in the Capital Athletic Conference championship game, Sea Gulls coach Jim Berkman said it wasn't time to count out his team nationally. As of Wednesday evening, the time had come.
Host Stevenson avenged the April 19 rout by Salisbury with an 11-9 win Wednesday in the NCAA Division III quarterfinals, beating the two-time defending national champion before an announced 1,302. The Mustangs (17-1) will host Gettysburg (15-3) at 1 p.m. Sunday in the semifinals.
But the Mustangs, who also beat Salisbury, 12-8, on April 4, weren't ready to talk about moving on. They wanted to talk about sweet revenge and how Salisbury had crushed them, 13-5, in the conference title game.
"This outcome was a little different," said Stevenson coach Paul Cantabene, in his fifth season. "We were embarrassed the last time we played them. I don't think we played them like we should have at home. We respect them a lot, but I don't think they respect us as much."
Berkman was gracious in defeat. The Sea Gulls were attempting to win their ninth national championship and sixth in the past seven years. And if it weren't for Stevenson goalie Geoff Herbet's 14 saves, seven in the fourth period, Salisbury might be playing Gettysburg instead of Stevenson. Salisbury was also 0-for-5 on extra-man attempts.
"They played a great game, and they were well prepared," Berkman said of the Mustangs. "They won the game that really matters, because they are moving on. We had our chances, but the difference in the game was their goalie. He came up with some really good saves in the fourth quarter, when we took 15 shots."
Besides the play in goal, a major turning point was the third quarter. Salisbury had tied the score at 5 on a goal by Matt Cannone with 13:21 left in the period. But the Mustangs scored four unanswered goals, two on extra-man situations.
The one that hurt Salisbury the most was the extra-man goal by senior midfielder Brett Yoder with 5:57 left in the third. The Sea Gulls had just forced a turnover, but Berkman was called for a one-minute unsportsmanlike-conduct penalty for yelling at an official.
Berkman said: "We had just gotten like three or four penalties in a row, and I just asked him, 'What do I have to do to get a call?' He didn't like the way I asked him, I guess."
Yoder led Stevenson with three goals, and sophomore attackman Jimmy Dailey had a goal and three assists. But it was sophomore midfielder Jake Stocksdale who scored with 3:49 left in the game to put the Mustangs ahead 11-7.
Salisbury pulled within 11-9 on a low bouncer from midfielder Mike Von Kamecke with 1:36 left.