SALISBURY, Md. – The Salisbury University men's lacrosse team welcomes Capital Athletic Conference second-seeded York College of Pennsylvania to Sea Gull Stadium on Saturday, April 29 at 1 p.m., for the 2017 men's lacrosse championship game.
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How we got here
Salisbury last played on Saturday, April 22 when CAC No. 4 University of Mary Washington came to town and the Gulls took care of the Eagles 22-9. Nathan Blondino led the offensive charge, notching six goals and one assist, while five other Gulls had multiple goals in the contest.
Colin Reymann got the start in cage for Salisbury and stopped five of the eight shots that the visitors put on net in his three quarters of action. Duncan Campbell had a solid outing at the X, winning 12-of-22 faceoffs and scooping up a team-high six groundballs.
Despite letting up nine goals, the fourth quarter was the only quarter the Eagles scored more than one goal, with Salisbury being up 19-3 at the end of the third quarter.
How they got here
The Spartans finished their regular season with a game against Christopher Newport University and turned around a week later to play them again in the CAC semifinal on April 22 and defeated them for the second time in as many tries by a 19-9 final.
The Captains hung around until York outscored them 9-3 in the second half to pull away for the win. York opened the third quarter with six goals, including four on the man up, within the first 10 minutes.
York spread its scoring across the board with Hunter Davis, Matt Whitcher, Brendan McGrath, and Austin Glab all getting at least three goals.
The last time we met
The two sides met Wednesday, April 12 at Sea Gull Stadium with the Gulls nationally ranked as the top team in the nation and the Spartans coming in at third. Salisbury got out to a 6-3 advantage after the first quarter and never looked back en route to a 17-10 win.
Corey Gwin led the Gulls with a career-high five points off three goals and two assists. Reymann had an amazing game in net with Salisbury outshooting York just 37-35, but 12 Reymann stops stymied the Spartan surge.
Scouting the Spartans
McGrath leads a group of four Spartans that have at least 40 points; coming into Saturday's matchup with 51 goals and 22 assists. Cameron Leech is the team's go-to facilitator, sitting at 17 goals and 42 assists, while Thomas Pfeiffer and Davis have also gotten to the 40-point mark.
Landry Marshall is York's man-between-the-pipes and has stopped over 56 percent of the shots he has faced this season. In front of Marshall, All-American Joey Fiorino leads the Spartans' close defense. Billy Sasso has been one of the top faceoff men in the CAC this season and has won 189 draws and leads the squad with 94 groundballs.
While the last time SU played York was earlier this month, this postseason matchup has been long awaited after the Spartans took down the Sea Gulls last season on the same stage. The loss was the Gulls' lone blemish on their national championship winning campaign.
Nick Garbarino came into the spotlight in that game as he filled in midway through due to injury and got three goals and has not relinquished his spot on attack since. Blondino was the only other SU player to score multiple goals in the loss.
Stopping the Spartan sophomores
York's top five scorers are all sophomores and the upperclassmen filled defensive unit of the Gulls will be tasked with slowing down the youth-based offense of York. The starting defense for Salisbury is made up of senior Aaron Leeds and a pair of All-American junior defenders in Will Nowesnick and Kyle Tucker.
At the defensive midfield Ternahan is the only returning piece from last season's championship run and is one of the nation's top long-stick midfielders. Ternahan has 64 groundballs this season to go along with 29 caused turnovers and eight points (two goals and six assists). On Ternahan's sides, juniors Troy Miller (13 groundballs and five caused turnovers) and Jeremiah LaClair (19 groundballs and 11 caused turnovers) have been the go to options on short-stick defensive midfield.
Rewriting the books
Senior All-American attackmen Blondino and Carson Kalama have been climbing the program record books all season and now find their names among some of the all-time SU greats.
Blondino enters the championship game at 97 points on the season and an incredibly balanced 123 goals and 124 assists for his career for 247 points. The 247 points is good for seventh all time, while the 124 assists is good for fifth.
Kalama found his way into the top 10 for points after the CAC semifinal as he is tied for 10th all-time with 233. Kalama's 233 points come with 181 goals, which is fifth in program history.
The winner of the CAC championship game will receive the conference's automatic qualifier into the 2017 NCAA men's lacrosse tournament. As of the last regional rankings, Salisbury and York are ranked No. 1 and 2 in the South region and the loser of the game will await a likely selection into the 2017 field.