SALISBURY, Md. – Salisbury men's lacrosse finished the 2017 season on top of the collegiate lacrosse world, hoisting its 12th national championship in Foxborough, Mass. after defeating RIT 15-7 over Memorial Day weekend. It was the fifth time in program history that the Sea Gulls were back-to-back champions. However, as 2018 dawns, the team eyes a feat that has been accomplished only one time in program history and just twice in Division III Men's Lacrosse: a three-peat.
"I think it's driving the guys pretty hard," said head coach Jim Berkman. "Everyone is already back and working hard, whether that is in the weight room, on the field, taking a winter class, etc. The older guys got a renewed excitement after the fall season just from seeing what the younger guys brought and how they competed."
The attack will see a brand new look in 2018 after the graduation of Nick Garbarino, Carson Kalama, and Nathan Blondino. The three combined to play in 199 games, score 438 goals, and total 662 points during their careers in maroon and gold.
Coach Berkman and his staff will turn to sophomores Josh Melton, Griffin Moroney, and Pierre Armstrong to lead the attack unit. Melton moves back to attack after spending his freshman year at midfield for Salisbury, but Coach Berkman believes the move will benefit the offense. "It's his natural position and we think he can really help the team and unit on that end of the field," Berkman said.
Melton finished his first year playing in all 23 games and scoring 24 goals, including three in the national championship against RIT, and totaling 44 points. "He played in some big games for us last season and delivered quality performances," Berkman said.
Meanwhile Moroney and Armstrong combined to appear in 23 games and tallied 10 goals during their freshman year campaigns.
Possibly the most crowded position on the roster, but certainly not lacking any talent, is the midfield position. The first line will consist of Corey Gwin, Garrett Reynolds, and Zach Pompea. Each player contributed greatly to the team's championship run last season, and Coach Berkman expects nothing different this season from this unit.
Gwin finished his sophomore season playing in all 23 games, scoring 24 goals and tallying 35 total points. Six times in 2017 Gwin netted at least two goals, including a three-goal performance against then No. 18 York College of Pennsylvania in the Capital Athletic Conference Championship.
Reynolds appeared in 22 of 23 games for the maroon and gold, netting 25 goals and totaling 41 points. He finished the NCAA tournament run with eight goals, including three in the national championship.
Meanwhile Pompea netted six goals and tallied eight points during his sophomore season, appearing in 19 games. "Zach had a great fall season," Berkman said. "I was very impressed with how he came in and the work he put in on both the field and in the weight room."
The second line has two players locked in, in Tyler Snyder and Austin Short. Short, who transferred to Salisbury from Mount St. Mary's University, is a player who, as Coach Berkman said, can "open everyone's eyes with his play." He appeared in 25 games for the Mountaineers, scoring five goals and tallying 10 total points in two seasons.
The final spot is up for competition, as five players can still lay claim to it. John Wheeler, Hunter Schaeffer, Raamah Harcum, Jarrett Bromwell, and Nick Durtschi all have a chance to earn the final spot on the second line, and each have competed extremely hard for it.
Fellow seniors Wheeler and Schaeffer combined to appear in 34 games last season for the Gulls, scoring four goals and tallying nine points. Durtschi, a rising junior, appeared in 12 games last season, tallying three total points, including a two-goal performance against Marymount (Va.) University.
Harcum, a transfer from Jacksonville University, was impressive in the fall with his size and speed, according to Coach Berkman. He appeared in nine games for the Dolphins, scoring two goals during his two-year stint. Bromwell, who is entering his first season for Salisbury, is the younger brother of former Sea Gull Brendan Bromwell.
From the defensive midfielder position, there are five players that the coaching staff is extremely excited to have. "We have a three-headed monster that can lead the unit with two more additions that can really impact the game," Berkman said.
The combination of Jeremiah LaClair, Troy Miller, and Parker Stevens will anchor the unit and bring a wealth of experience and knowledge to it. Between three of them, LaClair, Miller and Stevens have combined for 66 games played in 2017, 54 groundballs, and 22 caused turnovers. For his efforts during his junior season, Miller earned his first ever nod to the All-CAC team, earning second-team recognition.
Jared Walls and Bradley Greik will also look to add their impact to the defensive midfield unit. Greik will make the transition to defensive midfield after spending his freshman year on the offensive side. Walls will also look to step up and make an impact on the unit after spending a year learning and gaining experience. "Walls came into the fall season in arguably the greatest shape of his life and will help make an impact on that unit," Berkman said.
T.J. Logue will be Salisbury's number one option at the face-off X entering the season after a successful sophomore campaign. Logue finished the season going 121-for-207 from the face-off spot, winning 58.4 percent of the time and scooping up 54 groundballs in the process.
He will not be alone in that position, however, as Brett Malamphy will look to compete with Logue throughout the season. Malamphy, a University of Maryland Baltimore County transfer, appeared in 12 games for the Retrievers, and was 33-for-66 during his freshman season while scooping up 20 groundballs.
The Sea Gulls will also have great veteran experience at the long-stick midfield group, led by both Kevin Murphy and Jimmy Case. Both players will have big shoes to fill as they will look to take over for Andrew Ternahan, who was the USILA Long Pole Midfielder of the Year in 2017, and a USILA First Team All-American. Murphy, a rising sophomore, appeared in 13 games for the maroon and gold last season, recording two caused turnovers and scooping up five groundballs, including a season-high three against Mary Washington in the CAC playoffs. Case, who is a transfer from Towson University, will look to add his expertise to the unit. "He's really fast and has a great stick," Berkman said.
The unit with the smallest amount of turnover from last season returns the most experience. The defense will be anchored by First-Team All-American and Intercollegiate Men's Lacrosse Coaches Association Defensive Player of the Year Kyle Tucker, who was recently named a finalist for preseason Player of the Year by US Lacrosse Magazine. Also returning to the unit is USILA First-Team All-American Will Nowesnick. "They are our leaders back there and we need them to lead the unit and team as a whole," Berkman said.
Tucker, who appeared in all 23 games last season for the maroon and gold, helped anchor one of the nation's top defenses with 6.68 goals allowed per game. He finished the season with 30 caused turnovers and 67 groundballs, which ranked him third on the team. Fellow senior Nowesnick played in 22 games with 22 starts for Salisbury, scooping 65 groundballs, and causing a team-best 44 turnovers to go along with a goal and an assist.
The third spot will be held down by rising senior Cory Berry at close. Berry played in 15 games last season and chipped in with 23 caused turnovers and 21 groundballs, including a three caused turnover and two groundball performance in the national championship.
The coaches will continue to take a hard look at Drew Borkowicz, who, according to Coach Berkman, is ready to step in at any time and make an impact when called upon. He finished his freshman season with 16 groundballs and eight caused turnovers in 16 games played, including two starts.
Salisbury lost a key part of its defense last season with the graduation of Colin Reymann. Reymann finished his final season with the maroon and gold holding the nation's second-best goals against average at 6.36, a save percentage of 55.5, and a winning percentage of 95.7. For his efforts he was named a USILA Second-Team All-American.
The Sea Gulls will look to rising junior Anthony Stavrakis to pick up where Reymann left off. Stavrakis, who missed the 2017 season due to injury, has accounted for 18 games played and two starts during his career, with a save percentage of 45.6 and a goals against average of 10.57. "Anthony had a great fall," Berkman said. "He has a great stick, is athletic, and is playing with a lot more confidence this year."
Serving as the primary backup will be sophomore Brandon Warren, who received playing time in 13 games during his freshman season. Warren posted a goals against average of 6.56 and a save percentage of 57.1 during his time in cage last season.
The team will be tested right out of the gate this year, as they will square off against No. 19 Hampden-Sydney College, according to the insidelacrosse.com preseason poll, in the first game of the regular season. It will be a rematch of last season's third-round NCAA tournament game in which Salisbury came out on top 25-12. Three of the team's first eight games will be against NCAA tournament teams from last season, including rival Stevenson University on Saturday, March 10. Overall, the team will face five teams in 2018 that took part in the 2017 NCAA tournament.
The schedule gets no easier as it will open CAC play with York (Pa.) on Saturday, March 24 at York. "We want to test ourselves and these teams will challenge us," Berkman said. "York returns a lot on the offensive side of the ball and will be a tough test for us in conference play right off the start."
Salisbury opens its season on Sunday, February 4 when it hosts Hampden-Sydney. The game is scheduled to start at 12 p.m. at Sea Gull Stadium.