Much like their Loyola and Denver brethren on the Division I level, Salisbury and Stevenson will meet for the third time this, tangling in Sunday’s NCAA tournament semifinal at Sea Gull Stadium in Salisbury.
And like the top-seeded Greyhounds, the No. 1 seed Sea Gulls are aiming to complete a three-game sweep, having beaten the Mustangs, 11-10, on April 14 and 12-9 in the Capital Athletic Conference tournament final on April 28.
As daunting as that task may sound, Salisbury coach Jim Berkman didn’t sound concerned about the challenge.
“At this point in the season, you’ve got to beat everybody to be a champion,” he said Thursday. “You can’t worry about who you play and what you’ve done and your draw in the tournament. To be a champion, you’ve got to beat everybody. That’s what we’ve been dealt, and we’ve got the homefield, and we’ve got to beat Stevenson University. Whether it’s the first, second or third time, we’ve got to get it done on Sunday. I’m not worried about the third time or how many times we’ve played them. If that’s what we’ve got to do, that’s the challenge ahead, and we’ll rise to the occasion.”
Several Stevenson players said they wanted another shot at the Sea Gulls after both teams won their quarterfinal contests Wednesday night, and coach Paul Cantabene agreed.
“I think both teams enjoy the rivalry, both teams enjoy the game, the intensity of the game,” he said. “Every time we play, the level of play rises. I think it’s one of those games that is played at a very, very high level. So we’re just excited for the challenge. We know they’re a great team. They won again today pretty easily. So it seems like they’re playing well. We’re just excited to go down there and hopefully win by one.”