The regular-season meeting between Capital Athletic Conference rivals Salisbury and Stevenson was a thrilling affair in which the host Mustangs sprinted to a 9-3 advantage in the third quarter before the Sea Gulls discovered their rhythm and embarked on an 8-1 run to escape with an 11-10 decision on April 14.
This Saturday, the teams will add another chapter to their rivalry in the conference tournament final at Sea Gull Stadium in Salisbury, and both sides are eager to avoid a repeat of mistakes they made in that contest.
Aside from preferring a different outcome, Stevenson senior goalkeeper Ian Bolland said the defense must be more disciplined in monitoring the Sea Gulls’ offensive players.
“We really have to communicate better on defense and make sure they’re not getting those off-ball cuts because I think about six or seven of their goals were scored when they were just right on the crease,” Bolland said after the 14-3 Mustangs had outlasted St. Mary’s, 10-8, for the right to advance to Saturday’s contest. “You really have to watch your man on the crease. You can’t get caught ball-watching.”
Stevenson coach Paul Cantabene enjoyed the first 44 minutes in which the team jumped out to that six-goal lead, but the remaining 16 minutes were a different story.
“I just want to see us play a full game,” he said. “I think last time, we only played about 45 minutes. I want to see us play a full game, and I think we can.”
Salisbury came away with the win to remain undefeated at 18-0, but coach Jim Berkman said his team was not above criticism.
“Obviously, I want us to play a whole lot better offensively than we did in the first three quarters and handle the ball like we have in 17 of our 18 games,” he said. “Hopefully, we’ll play well offensively and handle the ball well like we did down the stretch in the last nine or 10 minutes of the game.”