Salisbury's defense proves it can be just as effective on man-down chances

Sea Gulls' top-ranked defense in Division III also ranks sixth in nation against extra-man opportunities

May 22, 2012|By Edward Lee

Salisbury’s defensive display in Sunday’s 7-2 victory over Stevenson in an NCAA tournament semifinal at Sea Gull Stadium in Salisbury helped that unit overtake Cabrini as the stingiest defense in Division III, surrendering just 4.8 goals per game thus far.

One reason why opponents are having trouble scoring on the Sea Gulls is that their man-down defense is nearly as imposing. That unit ranks sixth in the nation after allowing opposing offenses to score on just 13.6 percent (19-of-140) of their extra-man opportunities.

That is invaluable for a team that tends to collect penalties the way Salisbury does. Of the teams ranked in the top 50 in man-down defense, only Morrisville State has given opponents more extra-man chances.

“We preach not to get penalties, just to stay even,” senior midfielder Sam Bradman said. “We’re fortunate enough to have a good man-down defense. Once we get down into a man-down situation, we know we’ve got a good chance of stopping them. We try not to get penalties, but once we do, we’ve got a lot of faith in our defense.”

The Sea Gulls’ prowess on man-down situations was especially timely in Sunday’s win against the Mustangs, who went 0-of-6 with just six shots and three turnovers on extra-man opportunities.

For the season, Stevenson scored just three times on 22 chances against Salisbury and just 21.6 percent (30-of-139) in 23 contests.

“We struggled on extra man all year,” coach Paul Cantabene said. “We’ve tried different things, and we had a couple good shots. On the first two [extra-man opportunities], not so much, but after that, I thought we got some pretty quality shots. Unfortunately, they didn’t fall. We’ve got to regroup. We knew it was going to be a big part of the game. We got six of them and we didn’t convert unfortunately. That’s a big part of the game.”

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