Salisbury, St. Mary's gearing for Saturday's showdown for conference regular-season title

Top seed and home-field advantage in conference tournament also at stake when teams clash

April 12, 2013|By Edward Lee, The Baltimore Sun

By virtue of their unblemished records in the Capital Athletic Conference, reigning national champion Salisbury and St. Mary’s are in the driver’s seat for the top two seeds and accompanying first-round byes in the league tournament. But that hasn’t diluted the significance of Saturday’s tilt at Seahawk Stadium in St. Mary’s City.

The Sea Gulls (12-3 overall and 5-0 in the conference) have finished in first place in the league 16 times since the CAC was formed for the 1993 season, but their reign of dominance ended in 2009 and 2011 when Stevenson took home the championships. A win on Saturday would give Salisbury another regular-season crown.

“This is our last conference game,” coach Jim Berkman said Thursday. “They still have two conference games that are hard with us and then York. The bottom line is, for us, this is a huge game because it’s the conference regular-season championship. It would also mean that we get to host all of the playoff games. We definitely want to be in both of those positions as we move forward.”

St. Mary’s (9-4, 4-0) captured the regular-season titles in 1993 and 1994, but a victory on Saturday would put the team in prime position for the conference finale against York (11-3, 3-1).

“Obviously, we’re not looking past Salisbury, but having home-field [advantage] is incredibly important and potentially a bye,” coach Chris Hasbrouck said. “We need at least one more win. Anytime you play Salisbury, you are playing one of the top teams in the country. I don’t care what year or where. You get a chance to put your best against their best, and that’s how we’re looking at. Quite honestly, we’re not putting any more importance on this game than the game we played yesterday or the game we’re playing next Saturday. It’s another great chance for us to go out and get better as a team and to see where we are. So we are expecting Salisbury to come out and give us everything that they have.”

The Seahawks have defeated the Sea Gulls just once in the last 32 years – an 11-10 decision on April 10, 2009. Hasbrouck stopped a reporter before completing a question about the rivalry.

“You have to beat somebody more than once every 32 years to make it a rivalry,” Hasbrouck said with a chuckle. “They’re a game on our schedule and they’re a great opponent. But quite honestly, it’s an interesting history.”

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