April 19, 2014

Fourth Quarter Rally Pushes Salisbury Ahead of Stevenson

By Megan Schneider | LaxMagazine.com | Twitter | Blog Replay

No. 20 Mike Kane opens the second half with a goal for the Sea Gulls, leading their flight to victory. (John Strohsacker)

The dynamic duo of Luke Phipps and Donovan Lange teamed up for the Sea Gulls' final three man-up goals, hurtling their No. 4 Salisbury squad past No. 2 Stevenson in an 11-9 victory at Mustang Stadium.

"It means we're for real," said Salisbury coach Jim Berkman. "We're 16-1. We're not a bad team. The three best teams that we've played this year are in the top five and that's when we played our best games."

It was a battle of extra-man opportunities under the lights on Saturday night – for a total of 21. Nationally ranked with the fifth-best man-up offense, Stevenson converted on 50 percent of their eight opportunities, yet Salisbury had 13 chances.

The Sea Gulls scored on five of those opportunities during crucial moments – the first with Lange scoring off an assist from Phipps to give them their first lead of the game in the first quarter, and then those three fourth quarter goals from the same duo to pull away with the win.

"The officiating caught up to us," explained Stevenson coach Paul Cantabene. "We were in the box a whole lot and they scored a lot of man-up goals. I think that hurt us being three men down three times."

Salisbury's Greg Korvin sunk the first goal of the game at the 12:18 mark, but the Mustangs soon answered with a man-up goal by Colin Dabney.

It was a back-and-forth contest for the entire first half, with no clear predictable winner. At halftime, the score was tied 6-6 with six different people scoring for each team. Phipps led his team in points with three assists, while Mustangs midfielder Tony Rossi netted two assists.

Both teams played fairly even on the 13 face offs with seven in favor of the Sea Gulls. However, right out of the gate in the second half, Salisbury amped the intensity with senior Chris Biank dominating at the X, controlling six of the nine face offs.

"If there's a game ball, it would go to Chris Biank for his efforts at the X," Berkman said.

Mike Kane scored his second goal of the game to kick start the Sea Gulls' flight to victory in the third quarter.

Stevenson would challenge the Gulls with two goals from Billy Burgoyne and Stephen Banick to tie the game up at eight with 15 seconds to go in the third quarter.

But it came down to the wire in the fourth quarter when all goals were scored during man-up opportunities – three for Salisbury and one that came just too late for Stevenson.

With 3:41 remaining in the game after Dabney's final goal for the Mustangs, Salisbury held them down despite penalty flags being thrown left and right.

Alex Taylor served as the backbone of the Sea Gulls defense, docking a total of 13 saves, a feat deemed critical for their win with many made in man-down scenarios.

"Like we've said from the beginning of the season, if you make the saves you're supposed to, make those one or two game changers, with the offense that we have, we have a really good chance of winning," affirmed Taylor, who credits his defense as the "best in the country."

The Sea Gulls defense, anchored by Josh Martin, Knute Kraus and Austin Kem, held Stevenson to 39 shots – the Mustangs' lowest all season long. Their previous low was 40 shots against Nazareth.

"They made us pay," said Cantabene. "I think we let them off the hook a bunch. We hit Alex [Taylor] in the chest a few times but he made, to his credit, some pretty big saves. He kind of outplayed [Stevenson goalie] Dmitri [Pecunes] a little bit."

Saturday night proved that the Salisbury-Stevenson matchup is one of the most anticipated in Division III men's lacrosse. Stevenson defeated Salisbury twice last year, so the win for the Sea Gulls was "redemption," senior attacker Rhett DePol described.

Although his hamstring popped during the game, this victory was extra special for sophomore Brady Dashiell. A little sibling rivalry was added to the mix for his brother, Chris Dashiell, is a senior for Stevenson.

"I've got two families – my team and my real family," explained Brady Dashiell. "You've just got to grab your faith and hold on for the ride. That's why you call them your family. That's about making the run for the championship. When one person goes down, everyone steps up. That's the way it's got to be and that's the way it is."

Salisbury closed its regular season with this win and can prepare for the Capital Athletic Conference tournament, but Stevenson looks onward with two more conference games against Messiah and Lycoming.

"We were the fourth seed last year in the NCAA tournament and we had lost two games," Cantabene recalled. "We've still got a lot to play for. It's not like our season is over because we lost to Salisbury. We've beaten them in the past and they've won a national title. They've beaten us in the past and we've won a national title. Everything is still on the line for us."

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