SALISBURY, Md. - The Salisbury University men's lacrosse team will host No. 9 Cabrini University in an NCAA quarterfinal matchup on Wednesday, May 17 at 7 p.m., with the winner going onto the national semifinal.
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How we got here
Salisbury played host to No. 18 Hampden-Sydney College last Saturday and raced out to a 14-4 halftime lead and did not look back en route to the third-round win. Nathan Blondino and Nick Garbarino both had stellar days from the attack with Blondino posting seven goals and four assists, while Garbarino had six goals and three assists.
How they got here
The Cavaliers made their way into the quarterfinals with wins over Colorado College, 22-10 and No. 10 Franklin & Marshall College, 17-9. Against F&M, Tyler Kostack and Timmy Brooks both found the back of the net four times, while Jake Klein went for one goal and four assists.
Riley Michaels played a big role in the win, going 20-for-30 from the faceoff X and scooping up a team-high six groundballs. The Cabrini defense helped lockdown the Diplomats with the home team only putting 16 shots on cage all contest.
Scouting the Cavaliers
Jordan Krug and Brooks lead the offensive charge for Cabrini as each has at least 70 points on the season. Krug leads the team with 57 goals to go along with 17 assists, while Brooks has 70 points from 52 goals and 18 assists. The Cavaliers have eight players with over 30 points on the year and all eight of them are shooting over .300 percent.
Matt Nestler is the Cavaliers go-to option in net and has stopped .551 percent of the shots he has faced this season while posting a 7.34 goals against average.
The last time we met
The Gulls went on the road to Cabrini on April 14 and suffered their lone loss of the season. Salisbury took a 6-4 lead into halftime and was up 9-6 in the fourth, but four straight goals down the stretch gave the Cavaliers the lead. Carson Kalama scored with 35 seconds to go to send the game to overtime but Klein won the game in overtime for Cabrini to snap a 20-game win streak for SU.
Berkman's sharp shooters
Salisbury has been one of the nation's best shooting teams all season as it is third nationally with a .373 shooting percentage. Garbarino leads the country with a .632 mark, while Kalama's .518 percent mark is good for 10th and Blondino's .456 percent is 41st in the country.
Last game against Hampden-Sydney the trio of Garbarino, Kalama, and Blondino took 20 shots and scored on 15 of those attempts. Also last game, the team took 52 shots and converted on 25 of them (.480 percent).
Century in the rearview
Blondino is second in the nation with 122 points this season and is one of just six players in the country to pass the century mark. Blondino has posted 57 goals and 65 assists to eclipse the milestone for the second straight season.
In the last 10 seasons of SU lacrosse, Eric Bishop's 102 points in 2007 and Matt Cannone's 130 points in 2012 are the only other 100 point seasons to go along with Blondino's 101 last season and 122 thus far in 2017.
The Salisbury defense is arguably the best in the nation with the combination of Aaron Leeds, Will Nowesnick, and Kyle Tucker. The three starting poles were all on the All-CAC First Team, while Nowesnick and Tucker were USILA Second Team All-Americans a season ago.
The trio has combined for 180 groundballs and 129 caused turnovers while leading the nation's seventh best scoring defense (6.55 goals against per game).
The winner of the quarterfinal will take on the winner of the other South region quarterfinal between Lynchburg College and Denison University. The semifinal is scheduled for Sunday, May 21.