May 14, 2014

Salisbury Hands Denison First Loss of the Season

by Justin Odendhal |

Luke Phipps had a game-high six points (3g, 3a) to help Salisbury to a 15-5 win over Denison in the NCAA Division III Men's Lacrosse Championship.


© Kevin P. Tucker


SALISBURY, Md. – When No. 4 Denison (19-1) walked into Sea Gull Stadium on Wednesday night, they entered the game boasting the top-ranked defense in Division III, holding opposing teams to just 5.3 goals a game.

Accepting the challenge, No. 2 Salisbury (20-1) dominated the Big Red 15-5 on nearly every inch of turf to once again head onto the NCAA semifinals.

“We had a little competition with their defense,” Salisbury keeper Alex Taylor (nine saves, five goals allowed) said. “We wanted to shut their offense down and we gave our offense a little extra encouragement to put a couple in for us, just let them show we’re on top.”

Driving down the field and scoring just as the clock clicked passed the first minute of play, Denison looked ready to make a run against Salisbury after taking a 1-0 lead off a Blair Farinholt goal. That first minute was the end of the Big Red’s glory.

“We prepared well, had everything we wanted to do,” Denison attackman Eddie Vita said. “Obviously the first goal was exactly what we wanted to go on. I think (after that) we let the crowd and the game get to us a little bit and didn’t play our game.”

Following its first goal, the Big Red failed to find an offensive rhythm with several unforced turnovers despite taking 6-of-10 face-offs to open the game. Unforced errors from game jitters and mental mistakes doomed Denison.

“[Mistakes] kind of hurt us in the game early a little bit,” Denison head coach Mike Caravana said. “We had some momentum and then we lost some clears that gave them some extra possessions which is not what you want to do against a team like those guys because they’re gonna take advantage of it.”

Before halftime, Salisbury junior attack Mike Kane (3g) had already registered a hat trick with Luke Phipps (3g, 3a) and Greg Korvin (3g, 1a) adding two of their own. Denison would be held scoreless after their first goal until the second half, going more than 30 minutes without another tally on the scoreboard.

“Everyone on offense has the idea of ‘if we have the ball, they can’t score,’” Kane said. “We do a good job of controlling the ball, getting into our set plays and then executing them.”

Scoring the quick goal before being shut down in the first half, Denison attempted to return the favor after Salisbury scored 12 seconds into the second half off a Rhett DePol (2g, 1a) dunk on the crease. Despite taking all seven draws in the third, the Big Red would benefit from two following DePol’s goal but were quickly shut back down with a Sean Fitzgerald (2g, 1a) goal to end scoring momentum even without Salisbury winning at the X.

“I don’t remember very many (Salisbury players) making unforced errors at all,” Caravana said. “A lot of good, clean scoops and their goalie made some nice saves when he needed to as well.”

With 10:44 remaining in the third quarter, junior defender Knute Krause, an anchor to Salisbury’s shut down defense, gave a scare after needing help off the field after taking a helmet to the leg. Showing his grit, Krause returned to the field just minutes later to keep the Big Red offense at bay.

“He walked off the field and when he came back I told him, ‘Knute don’t do that to me again,’” Taylor said. “He’s a great player, I’m glad he’s healthy.”

Salisbury continued to pour it on the Big Red in the final frame as fog rolled in to Sea Gull Stadium as the Denison defense continued to falter, unable to come up with a way to stop the ever-growing monster that is Salisbury’s offense.

“Greg had a breakout game tonight and going forward, hopefully in the next two games, he’s gonna play like that,” Salisbury head coach Jim Berkman said. “Now it’s a lot harder to guard us – Donovan Lange (1g, 2a) is a handful, Fitzy (Sean Fitzgerald) is a handful and now Korvin.
“You’re making people slide and what happens when people slide – you get an attack that scores eight goals tonight which we haven’t had in a while.”

Despite the offensive outpouring from Salisbury, Berkman placed the victory on his defensive mantle – successfully outplaying what many thought was a defense championships can be molded from.

“The close defense held the attack to one goal, we shut down the freshman lefty, Knute (Krause) has a big day against their All-American and Austin Kemp plays outstanding – has some great slides,” Berkman said. “The guys that don’t get recognized are Preston Dabbs and Davis Anderson, our two shortsticks – you don’t have to slide to those guys and that creates a lot of havoc.”

As foes shook hands, the announcement of Salisbury’s oldest rival No. 4 Washington College upsetting No. 5 Stevenson, the Gulls newest rival, came across the speaker. Already thinking towards Sunday, Salisbury is already preparing for a rematch of it’s 12-7 victory from Match 19th.

“We’ve got War on the Shore Pt. 2 – they’ve got a great face-off guy, a great offense and they just beat Stevenson, who’s a great team, on the road,” Taylor said. “We’ve gotta come and bring our A-game, do our homework tonight, tomorrow and the next day and hopefully good things will happen.”

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