SALISBURY, Md. – The second-ranked Salisbury University men's lacrosse team is set to take on 19th-ranked University of Lynchburg in third round action of the 2019 NCAA Men's Lacrosse Division III Tournament on Saturday, May 11, at 5 p.m. at Sea Gull Stadium.
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How we got here
Salisbury advanced to the third round behind a 19-4 victory over State University of New York Maritime on Wednesday, May 8 in the second round of the tournament. Josh Melton paced the offensive attack, tallying a team-best eight points while Corey Gwin netted a team-high four markers. The defensive unit was solid throughout the contest, causing 12 Privateer turnovers led by Kevin Murphy and Drew Borkowicz, who each caused three apiece while combining for nine groundballs.
How they got here
The Hornets advanced to the third round with a dominant 15-5 win over Transylvania University on May 8. Lynchburg netted seven goals in the opening frame to take a commanding 7-0 lead after the first 15 minutes, getting goals from five different players including Andrew Thomas and Evan Lombardo, who finished tied for the team-high in goals with three each. Patrick Cornelius was solid in cage for the home team making nine saves on 14 shots in just over 55 minutes of work to earn his 14th win of the season.
Scouting the Hornets
Lynchburg is paced by team points leader Kevin Rogers, who has tallied 75 this season. Rogers has totaled four or more points 10 times, including a season-best six against Salisbury on February 9. Senior Evan Lombardo has been equally as impressive for Lynchburg netting 52 goals, scoring in all but one game this season. Defensively, the team is anchored by Seamus McDonald, who has caused a team-best 28 turnovers. Cornelius has been strong in the cage, allowing 7.85 goals against this season, which ranks third in the Old Dominion Athletic Conference.
The last time we met
The two teams met back on February 9, in what was Salisbury's second game of the season and Lynchburg's opener. The Sea Gulls edged the Hornets that afternoon, 11-9. They jumped out to an 8-1 halftime advantage, but had to survive a wild fourth quarter that saw Lynchburg shutout the visitors and net five markers of their own to pull within two. Cross Ferrara finished the game with a team-high three goals, while Rogers paced the home team with four goals and two assists for a game-high six points. The Salisbury defense was dominant throughout the contest as it caused eight of the Hornets' 13 turnovers, with five different players causing at least one turnover. Cornelius was spectacular in net for the Hornets, making 17 saves on 28 shots.
This will be the Sea Gulls' and Hornets' 28th meeting, and the first in the NCAA tournament since May 13, 2015. Lynchburg defeated Salisbury 13-11 that season in Lynchburg, Virginia in the third round of the 2015 tournament. The Hornets used a six-goal second quarter to help gain control of the contest, scoring five straight after Nathan Blondino leveled the game at 4-4 with 11:25 left to play in the second frame. A five-goal fourth quarter was not enough for the maroon and gold as Lynchburg held on for the two-goal victory.
Lead by example
Senior long-stick midfielder Kevin Murphy has played a vital role for the Salisbury defense but has raised his game to another level since the Sea Gulls' lone loss of the year to York College of Pennsylvania on April 17. Murphy, who failed to cause a turnover in the loss and was part of a defensive unit that allowed 11 goals, has helped turn the unit around starting with his own performance. Since the April 17 defeat, Murphy has recorded 10 caused turnovers and 18 groundballs and has helped the defensive unit post a goals-against average of 6.83 in the six games since. Overall, the unit has caused 71 caused turnovers, 11.8 per game, and has scooped up 285 groundballs for an average of 47.5 per game.
The winner of Saturday's game will advance to the NCAA quarterfinals on Wednesday, May 15. Salisbury or Lynchburg will square off against the winner of the Rhodes College and Denison University third round contest.