SALISBURY, Md. – Second-seeded Salisbury University will travel to top-seeded York College of Pennsylvania on Saturday, May 4 to take on the Spartans for the 2019 Capital Athletic Conference men's lacrosse championship, starting at 3 p.m.
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How we got here
Salisbury advanced to the championship game after a 14-6 victory over Christopher Newport University on May 1 in the semifinals. The Sea Gulls advanced behind a dominant defensive performance that saw the defense hold the Captains scoreless for nearly 24 minutes of game action and limited the visitors to just one goal in the second half. Defensively, the maroon and gold held Christopher Newport to a 1-of-4 mark in man-up, 16-of-23 on clears, caused 13 turnovers, led by Jackson Woodward's three, and an eight-save performance by Brandon Warren.
How they got here
The Spartans dominated Frostburg State University in the CAC semifinals, downing the Bobcats 10-3 on May 1. York jumped out to early 5-0 lead in the opening frame as four different players found the back of the net, with Hunter Davis tallying two markers, including the first goal of the game just 46 seconds in. Davis finished the game with a team-high four goals while Brendan McGrath netted two. Defensively, the Spartans caused 13 turnovers, led by Ryan Kennedy, who tallied three, while goalie Jack Michael recorded 12 saves.
Scouting the Spartans
York has been arguably one of the most consistent teams in Division III lacrosse this season, rolling to a 17-1 overall record with the lone blemish of the year coming against current No. 1 Rochester Institute of Technology, 10-6, at the Mustang Classic back on March 15. The team has defeated five teams currently ranked in the top-20, averaging 8.2 goals per game while allowing 7.8 goals per game in those contests. The team is led by two 70-plus point performers in Thomas Pfeiffer and Hunter Davis, who have totaled 76 and 72 points, respectively. The two are tied for the lead in goals with 48 apiece while Pfeiffer has dished out 28 assists to Davis' 24.
Same song, different verse
This will mark the fifth time in the last six seasons that Salisbury and York have squared off against each other in the CAC championship contest, with Salisbury claiming three of the previous four meetings since 2014. The Spartans' lone victory came in 2016 when they edged the Sea Gulls 10-9, but the Gulls responded by claiming the last two titles, including the 2018 championship, 11-8, at York.
Growing up fast
Jack Michael has been exceptional in the cage this season for the Spartans, starting 17 of 18 games for the No. 2 team in the country as a true freshman. Since York's lone defeat back on March 15, Michael has not allowed double-digit goals while posting a goals against average of 5.09 in the 11 games since the loss. In fact, he has allowed just two opponents all season to reach double-digit goals while tallying double-digit saves in eight games, including a career-high 13 against No. 6 Cabrini University on March 22. For the season, Michael has tallied 143 saves for a save percentage of 57.4, which ranks second in the CAC, and has posted a conference-best goals against average of 6.65.
Taking advantage of the advantage
Salisbury boasts one of the most prolific offenses in Division III lacrosse, averaging 17.05 goals per game this season, but its man-up has been equally as impressive, converting at a .549 clip this season. In 18 games this season the Sea Gulls have earned the extra-man advantage 82 times and have converted on 45 of those attempts. Corey Gwin and Tyler Snyder have been exceptional on the unit as they have combined for 27 goals, as Gwin has netted a CAC-best 17.
The winner will receive the CAC's automatic bid to the 2019 NCAA Division III Men's Lacrosse Tournament as well as lock down the top seed in the South region, while the loser will await an at-large bid. The teams will find out who they will be seeded against on Sunday evening, May 5, during the selection show.