May 20, 2012

Shipping up to Boston: Taylor, Sea Gull defense lead Gulls past Mustangs to national championship game

SALISBURY, Md. – Senior attackman Lantz Carter ripped a shot into the back of the net in the second quarter to break a 0-0 tie that lasted for the first 26:14 of the game as the No. 1 Salisbury University men's lacrosse team defeated No. 5 Stevenson University on Sunday, 7-2, in an NCAA tournament semifinal game to advance to the Division III national championship game.

Carter's goal broke the longest scoreless streak of the season for the Sea Gulls to begin a game, and it was the first time that Salisbury did not score a goal in the first quarter.

"I figured that the next time I came in, I would just take what they gave me," Carter said. "Sammy (Bradman) gave me the ball…I faked and just stuck a shot. I took what they gave me."

The Salisbury defense, led by senior defender Andrew Sellers and sophomore goalkeeper Alex Taylor, dominated the Mustang offense to hold Stevenson to its largest scoring draught to start a game this season, as well. The Gulls held their opponent scoreless for the first 40:22 of the game.

The goal, which came with 4:34 left in the third quarter, ended a scoreless streak that lasted 52:45 for the Mustangs against Salisbury, dating back to the Capital Athletic Conference championship game.

"Defensively today, starting in the back line with Alex Taylor, who was really seeing the ball well, we were forcing them to take shots that a goalie could save," Salisbury Head Coach Jim Berkman said. Taylor turned away a career-best 19 Stevenson shots in the contest. "I think that the defensive effort was truly outstanding today."

After the scoreless first quarter and Carter's go-ahead goal in the second, Salisbury took control of the game in the third frame with two goals each from senior midfielders Sam Bradman and Cory Nowak. The players tied for the team lead in goals for the game, and Bradman led the team with three points.

Despite being outshot 12-10 by the Mustangs in the quarter, the Sea Gulls won 3-of-5 faceoffs and were successful on all seven clears. The defense continued to step up, smothering both of Stevenson's man-up opportunities, and Taylor made seven of his 19 saves in the third. For the game, the defensive unit held Stevenson to 0-for-6 on man-up chances. Defenders, senior Chad Surman and sophomores Danny Sherr and Zeke Smith, all had a hand in holding the Mustang's offense at bay.

"We are fortunate to have a good man-down defense," said Bradman. "Once we get into a man-down situation, we know that we have a good chance to stop them."

Junior midfielder Ryan Clarke and senior attackman Tony Mendes both netted scores in the fourth to cap the game and the trip to Foxborough, Mass. next Sunday, May 27. Senior attackman Matt Cannone registered two assists in the game to lead the team in that category.

Salisbury will move on to its third-straight national championship game to take on the Red Dragons of State University of New York at Cortland. Cortland topped Tufts University, 12-10 in the other semifinal on Sunday. The championship game will take place at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass., and is set to start a 4 p.m.

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