Salisbury coach Jim Berkman is fond of saying that it’s fitting for the only two undefeated teams in Division III – the Sea Gulls (22-0) and SUNY-Cortland (21-0) – to meet in Sunday’s NCAA tournament final at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass.
Tyler Granelli has an entirely different motive.
The junior faceoff specialist was cut by the Red Dragons in the fall of 2010 after compiling six points and 11 groundballs in 14 games as a freshman in 2009. Granelli elected to transfer to Salisbury and after sitting out 2010 to rehabilitate a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his knee, he has won 66.0 percent (446-of-676) of his draws in less than two full seasons.
Granelli, who has won 66.7 percent (226-of-339) of his faceoffs and collected 158 groundballs this spring, didn’t disagree with the sentiment that he is seeking revenge.
“Nothing’s sweeter than revenge,” he said Wednesday. “I am looking forward to getting a chance to prove that coaching staff wrong, that I was worthy of a spot. But I couldn’t be happier with where I am now. I couldn’t be more thankful for coach [Jim] Berkman and Sea Gull nation for pretty much taking me in as one of their own.”
Granelli said he’s still not sure why Cortland coach Steve Beville cut him from the roster. “I guess it was just his call,” Granelli said. “I guess it was the best call for his team at the time. I can’t hold it against him. I can only thank him at this point because it’s definitely opened a whole new window of opportunity that I’ve enjoyed every second of.”
During a conference call Tuesday, Beville didn’t touch on the reasons for releasing Granelli, but acknowledged his development.
“He’s a great faceoff guy,” Beville said. “He’s not a good one, he’s a great one. His numbers show it. As far as the game plan goes, our guy’s pretty good, too. [Junior] Nick Jarvis has done very well for us. I think we’re probably going to mix it up and throw some different guys at him. It’s not just going to be one guy. Wing play is going to be crucial. We figure that if we can get it down to 50-50, we’re going to have a very good chance to get the ball with [senior long-stick midfielderJack] Kennedyon the wing. [Junior Sean] Davern’s also outstanding as our second pole. [Sophomore] Doug Meehan has had an incredible year as one of our wing guys and short-stick D-middies. We think if we can make it 50-50 as far as the draw itself, we’re going to be in good shape. The plan is obviously not to let Ty dominate the game. We’ll throw some different things in there, and we’ll see how things shape up.”
Jarvis, who has won 56.6 percent (196-of-346) and scooped up 69 groundballs, is listed at 6-foot-2 and 210 pounds, which is close to Granelli’s 6-3, 215-pound frame. Granelli is fully aware of his matchup with Jarvis.
“I know that we took Geography 101 together at Cortland, and I know he’s a real good kid,” Granelli said. “It’s going to be fun playing against him and those guys up there.”