April 11, 2014

Phipps, Salisbury Halt Cabrini's Perfect Run

In-Game Blog Replay


Luke Phipps scored four goals and set up three others, leading Salisbury to an impressive, 15-11 victory over previously undefeated Cabrini. (Justin Odendhal)

by Justin Odendhal | LaxMagazine.com

SALISBURY, Md. – No. 3 Cabrini was unable to live up to its top-ranked offensive hype against No. 7 Salisbury under the lights on Friday, dropping its fifth game in program history to the Sea Gulls, 15-11, in a late-season playoff teaser at Salisbury.

Heading into the game averaging 18 points per game, the Cavaliers (11-1, 3-0 CSAC) were stifled by the Gulls' (13-1, 5-1 CAC) rock-steady defense and completely overwhelmed by the attack combo of Luke Phipps (4g, 3a) and Rhett DePol (3g, 1a).

"A little disappointed. It's tough to come down here, play on Friday night and come away with a loss," Cabrini senior Corey Elmer (5g, 2a) said. "We're going to learn from it, move forward and we're going to step up our play."

In what looked to be a slugfest coming into night, the two juggernaut offenses lived up to their potential in the first quarter as they exchanged goals to end the period knotted up at four apiece. Neither defense looked like a contender in the first, with simple shots from both sides making the night look long for both keepers.

"It's not just our top group," Salisbury head coach Jim Berkman said. "You have that second line of middies that comes in (who can score) too. Our top five middies and our top three attackmen all shoot really well; there's no weak shooters in that group."

Just two games removed from an upset loss at Christopher Newport, an inspired Gulls offense fed off of an overwhelmed Cavaliers defense to make opportunities for the attack. Noticing the Cavaliers shifting into a zone, DePol took full advantage in the first before Cabrini had a chance to return to man.

"They had to go into a zone a little bit early and (it played into) the two or three things we've been working on since that CNU game and boom-boom-boom goal," Berkman said.

Scoring slowed in the second quarter after both defenses began to lock down the opposing shooters and cause a rift in offensive schemes. With both offenses feeding off of the transition game, it would be a matter of who could win the movement battle.

"I credit Salisbury's defense – we didn't get any broken goals, we didn't get any real transition, they were really good," Cabrini head coach Steve Colfer said. "They wanted to make it a 6-v-6 game and they did that. We've got to score more goals and make stops defensively."

Up 6-5 at the half, Salisbury would use recently returned faceoff specialist Chris Biank to stifle the Cavaliers – splitting chances at the X with Cabrini, but not allowing a solid fast break.

"It's a different game. The position he plays he's good at; it's what he does and it shows when he's on the field," DePol said of Biank. "It gives us a lot of confidence because it's almost like make-it, take-it. We score a goal and he's going to get the ball back for us."

The Gulls would begin to pull away with six goals in the third, including three straight to start the quarter, which caused Colfer to pull starting keeper Austin Marshall (9 GA, 5 Sv) less than five minutes in.

Cabrini would struggle in the third, only scoring two goals, both unassisted shots by Elmer. Off ball movement went stagnant for the Cavaliers, giving the Salisbury defense more than enough time to swarm unprepared attackmen.

"Credit to their game plan," Elmer said. "They did a good job defending what we were trying to do, but it was little things that caught up to us like turning the ball over on transitions and not attacking the spots we needed to attack as much as we needed to."

A fourth quarter flurry of goals wouldn't be enough for Cabrini. The Cavaliers outscored the Gulls, 4-3, but were never able to put consistent shots on net for a rally.

Falling to a perennial power on their home turf, the Cavaliers did not leave Sea Gull Stadium with their heads low, fully expecting to see the Gulls down the road.

"We know we're going to get an effort out of [Salisbury]," Colfer said. "Coach Berkman is a legend – he's got a track record and great players. It's hard to beat Salisbury at Salisbury and that's why it's a big game. If you win this game, then next time you see them maybe you see them at home."

Salisbury now holds seven wins over South opponents ranked within the Top 20, giving its final regular season game against rivals Stevenson next Saturday even more importantance. NCAA home field advantage will almost certainly go through one of the schools.

"We're on our home field, we're a top team, we're supposed to win this game and we did tonight," Berkman said. "Now we've got about seven ranked wins, in the South too, so we have a lot of wins in our region that are going be big when it comes to playoffs and home games."

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