Battle at faceoffs between Salisbury, Cabrini could tilt field

Visiting Cavaliers, No. 1 seed Sea Gulls boast No. 1 and No. 3 faceoff specialists in Division III this season

May 16, 2012|By Edward Lee

The most prominent storyline of Wednesday night’s NCAA tournament quarterfinal between visiting Cabrini and No. 1 seed Salisbury involves the Cavaliers’ top-ranked defense against the Sea Gulls’ top-ranked offense.

Another thread figures to be the battle on faceoffs between Cabrini freshman Anthony DiNenno and Salisbury junior Tyler Granelli.

DiNenno ranks first in Division I with a 69.6 percentage (211-of-303). Granelli isn’t far behind, ranking third with a 68.4 percentage (210-of-307).

Sea Gulls coach Jim Berkman noted that Cavaliers’ 12-7 victory over Dickinson in Saturday’s second round was fueled by DiNenno’s 13-of-21 performance.

“[O]ne of the differences the other day was that Cabrini got a couple goals and then their faceoff guy came right back and won the faceoffs,” Berkman said Monday. “So it was kind of like make it, take it, and that dug a hole for Dickinson. We’ve obviously got to do a good job at the X. It’s probably going to be a great battle between their guy and our guy.”

With DiNenno and Granelli so evenly matched statistically, the key could be the play of their teammates on the wings. Granelli is usually flanked by senior long-stick midfielder Evan Hockel and senior midfielder Cory Nowak, and their efforts could determine whether Salisbury wins the possession battle.

“The wing play is going to be pretty big,” Berkman acknowledged. “They’ve got [senior defenseman John] McSorely that they bring up on the wing, and he’s a great defenseman and is probably going to be a first-team All American. But we’ve got Evan Hockel, who is a great wing player. So although I think both faceoff guys are good enough, I don’t think they’ll be winning them to themselves throughout the day. The wing play is going to be pretty important for possessions.”

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