"There's always pressure when people start talking… (Salisbury Athletics )
Each week, The Baltimore Sun publishes a Q&A with an area college lacrosse player to get you more acquainted with the player and his/her team. Today's guest is Salisbury senior attackman Matt Cannone, who is the only player in Division III men's lacrosse with more than 100 points (114).
You lead the country in points per game (6.3) and assists per game (3.2). Is that what you anticipated doing this season?
Our No. 1 goal was to just get back to the national championship and win it. But having the surrounding cast that we have this year has made it pretty easy to be prosperous. We have [senior midfielder] Sam Bradman, who is the best player in Division III, in my opinion. [Senior attackmen] Erik Krum, Tony Mendes, those guys have allowed me to get open and really given me an opportunity to be successful. That's what I think this year has really been about.
Coach Jim Berkman said your accuracy has improved during your career. How much has that helped?
Definitely. I feel like I can pretty much put the ball where I want it. Being able to go out there and shoot, not only by myself but with a bunch of my teammates, has really helped me out. It's always good to have a buddy out there when you're working to push you along, and Erik Krum has been one of those guys. He's always out there ripping shots. Sam Bradman is always ripping shots, and they've helped me get out there and be more motivated.
With a 19-0 record and the top ranking in the nation, how much pressure is there on the team to add a 10th national championship to the cupboard?
There's always pressure when people start talking about repeating. You know how hard it is to get through May when you've been there. It's a four-step process, and we're taking it one step at a time. You don't want to count your chickens before they hatch. But I know that with the group that we have, we're more than capable of making a great run. It's just about putting the work in before the tournament and executing once you get there. Coach has been preparing us every day for what's going to go on. So it's really in our hands to step up and make it happen.
Do you enjoy having to work against opponents' best defenseman?
I love the challenge. I love seeing that guy come over my way. It gives me some more motivation during a game. If they're going to put their best guy on me, I'm going to give them my best. And then having the kinds of players around me only lets me be prosperous in games. I'm passing the ball to some of the best shooters in the country. So it's really a team effort out there, and those guys are putting in the work.
The Sea Gulls beat Stevenson in the Capital Athletic Conference tournament final Saturday, marking the last time those two teams will meet in the conference tournament [Stevenson will join the Middle Atlantic Conference next next season]. Will you miss the Mustangs?
We will definitely miss them. It's a great game, a great atmosphere when you play that game. All the crowd noise is pumped up, and you know the players are always jacked up. It's just awesome lacrosse. I've played them nine times in my career, and I loved playing them. I always felt like it was just a great game for lacrosse, Division III and both schools. I'll definitely miss lining up and see the Mustangs across from me.