2018 National Championship: Men's Lacrosse vs. Wesleyan (Conn.)
The No. 3 Salisbury University men’s lacrosse team traveled to Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts for the 2018 NCAA Division III Men’s Lacrosse National Championship game. The Sea Gulls were taking on a newcomer to championship weekend, Wesleyan (Conn.) University in what was the Cardinals first appearance in the national title game while it was the Gulls 18th. Salisbury was in search of its 13th national championship, which would tie the record set by Hobart College back in 1993. It was also the Sea Gulls third consecutive trip to the national title contest and they were looking to become just the seventh team to accomplish the three peat in NCAA lacrosse history and first since they themselves did it back in 2003-2005. After a slow start that saw Wesleyan race out to a 4-0 lead in the opening eight minutes the Salisbury offense settled in and began to make a run of its own. Zach Pompea got the Sea Gulls on the board with two seconds left in the opening frame to break the scoreless draught. It was draught the Sea Gulls' longest scoring drought of the NCAA tournament and longest in a game this season since the team's game at York College of Pennsylvania back on March 24, which lasted 14:45. Corey Gwin continued to keep the offense moving, netting two goals in a span of 91 seconds to cut the Cardinals lead to just one, 4-3. Gwin first finished off a pass from josh Melton before tallying his second marker of the afternoon as he finished off the offering from Pierre Armstrong and the game was on! Kyle Tucker helped anchored a strong defensive performance for the maroon and gold causing two turnovers and scooping up three groundballs. Meanwhile Brandon Warren tallied 11 saves in the contest while scooping up a team-best six groundballs. The fans were feeling it and the teams went into the break with Wesleyan holding a slim 5-3 advantage over the defending champions. After Wesleyan built its lead back to four, 8-4, Salisbury regained the momentum firing home two markers in the fourth quarter to cut the deficit to just two. Griffin Moroney found his way into the stat book netting his first marker of the game finishing off a pass from Pompea to bring the score to 8-5. Pompea pulled with the Gulls within two finishing off a great pass from Jeremiah LaClair to make it 8-6 with just five minutes and thirty seconds left to play. However, that was all the offense the Sea Gulls could muster as the Cardinals withstood a flurry of shots in the waning minutes of the contest and went on to capture their first ever men’s lacrosse let alone team national championship. The eight goals scored by the Cardinals ties the team's lowest output this season, for a squad ranked 46th in the nation in goals per game, averaging 12.90. It is just the third time all season Wesleyan has scored single-digit goals with the last time coming back on April 21 in an 8-7 win over Hamilton College. Head Coach Jim Berkman had nothing but positive things to say postgame and called this year “one of the best coaching years I’ve had.” The Sea Gulls will now turn their attention to the offseason and preparation for the 2019 campaign which begins…now. Congratulations to the 2018 men’s lacrosse team on a fantastic season.