Despite conference change, Salisbury-Stevenson rivalry has not changed

No. 3 Mustangs and No. 6 Sea Gulls prepared to renew rivalry that hasn't lost its edge despite playing in different leagues

April 01, 2013|By Edward Lee, The Baltimore Sun

After six years battling Salisbury as members of the Capital Athletic Conference, Stevenson moved to the Middle Atlantic Conference for the current 2013 campaign. But the conference switch hasn’t dulled the emotion that the rivalry has generated in 14 meetings between these two teams.

“I don’t think the tenor of the rivalry has changed,” Mustangs coach Paul Cantabene said Monday morning. “I still think both teams don’t like each other very much, and I still think it’s a very big game on the national landscape, and it always has been. I just think that we’re just not playing each other as much. That’s the biggest difference, that there’s not going to be a three-game series. It’ll be two games a year maybe. But I still think it’s a pretty big game. I think both teams circle it on the schedule when it comes out.”

Said Sea Gulls coach Jim Berkman: “I think it’s just a rivalry – period. It’s become a rivalry because we’ve played each other so many times. They’ve been good, and we’ve been good. It’s just one of those things where it’s been established now that it wouldn’t matter if it was a conference game or a non-conference game. It’s a big game between two perennial top teams.”

The rivalry will be renewed Wednesday night when Stevenson (9-1) – ranked No. 3 in the latest United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association poll – meets No. 6 Salisbury (10-2) Wednesday night at Sea Gull Stadium in Salisbury. The Sea Gulls own a 10-4 advantage, including a three-game sweep last season en route to the program’s 10th national championship.

The outcome of Wednesday’s contest could impact the teams’ seeding in the South Region of the NCAA tournament as both sides are jockeying with the likes of No. 2 Dickinson (9-0), No. 7 Lynchburg (8-2) and No. 9 Washington College (8-1) for the top seed and home-field advantage.

“It’s obviously in the back of anybody’s mind because you’re playing a team and you’re both having pretty good seasons,” Berkman said. “The winner of this game is possibly hosting playoff games.”

Cantabene didn’t try to distance himself from the notion that the Mustangs are eager to make amends for last season’s season sweep by Salisbury.

“I think it’s important to us because they got us three times last year,” he said. “I just think for them, it’s pretty important to come back and play well against them. Not that we didn’t play well against them all three times last year, but they were just a little more slick at times than we were. So I think our guys are looking forward to it. We think these are the important games that can set the tone for the season. So we’re definitely looking forward to the challenge.”

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