Three goals from freshman attackman Brady Dashiell and a suffocating defensive effort fueled No. 12 Salisbury’s 7-4 upset of No. 8 Washington and Lee in Saturday’s second-round contest of the NCAA tournament. But that does not mean that all is well with the reigning national champion.
The first midfield of senior Eric Kluge and juniors Tyler Smith and Greg Korvin finished with zero goals and zero assists against the Generals, marking the first time this season that the trio had been shut out since partnering together in March. Their unusual display was mitigated partly by goals from three unlikely sources in sophomore midfielder Kyle Goss (four goals and one assist in 2013), sophomore defenseman Knute Kraus (1, 1) and junior attackman Luke Phipps (9, 2), which did not escape the attention of Sea Gulls coach Jim Berkman.
“It’s really meaningful when your first midfield doesn’t get a point,” he said Monday of the contributions from Goss, Kraus and Phipps. “They had a rough day as far as their shooting, some turnovers. Tyler Smith got sick in the game and was throwing up. It was a rough day for our first line.”
Salisbury (16-5) has the unenviable task of tangling with No. 2 and undefeated Dickinson (18-0), the top seed in the South region, in Wednesday’s NCAA tournament quarterfinal. If the team hopes to advance to its 10th semifinal in the last 10 years, the first midfield must play effectively and take some pressure off the attack.
An encouraging sign for Berkman was that he did not have to address his concerns with Kluge, Smith and Korvin after the win against Washington and Lee.
“I don’t have to talk it up,” he said. “The first comment from Eric Kluge when I walked by him at the tailgate was, ‘Hey, Coach, we know we’ve got to get it done on Wednesday. We didn’t get it done today.’ And that was coming right from the horse’s mouth. We’re going to need some goals from the first midfield line.”