D3 Mens Championship Preview

D3 Mens Championship Preview

D3 Mens Championship Preview

D3 Mens Championship Preview

Salisbury State as we all know by now will be returning to the National Championship game for the second time in two consecutive seasons, the fourth time in the past seven years, and will be looking to grab the school's fourth national championship after having earned them in 1994, 1995 and 1999. Salisbury State has been acknowledged in the polls and by many as the best team in D3 this year and were proving it early by easily rolling over average teams, beating the then #2-Gettysburg 14-3 on April 1st, and then defeated a highly ranked Denison 16-12 on April 22nd. The Denison score showed that the Gulls were at least in the same ballpark as everyone else and a week later the Washington College Shoremen beat the #1 Gulls 15-10 in the annual battle that has rightfully been dubbed the War on the Shore. The loss was shrugged off by many due to the fact that one of the Gulls top offensive guns didn't play because of a team suspension, but it showed that Salisbury's defense could be scored on and that Salisbury was not the least bit invincible. After a first round bye the Gulls suited up for their first playoff battle against WAC, the only team able to get the best of them in the regular season, but it wasn't happening in the post season as Salisbury eliminated the Shoremen 21-9. In last Sunday's semi-final matchup the Washington & Lee Generals came out and played great defense against Salisbury, holding them to ten goals on the day. The Generals came about as close as one can get when they were unable to knock the Gulls out with only 9 goals from the offense. This tight win over Washington & Lee last weekend may have earned the Gulls another trip to the Big Dance, but showed again that Salisbury is not head-n-shoulders above everyone else, and has given Middebury some great stuff to look at and key in on.

Middlebury will be returning to this year's finals matchup against Salisbury with a little more experience than last year and will be riding in on a 13 game winning streak. Middlebury was ranked in the top 5 for a majority of the 2000 season, defeating solid Denison, Bowdoin, and Williams teams during the regular season and losing only once to Gettysburg College 10-6 on March 22 (which was only their second game of the season). The Panthers defeated RIT 12-9 in their quarterfinal matchup and registered their biggest win of the season so far when they knocked off Nazareth last Saturday 13-8 in their semi-final matchup. This win was one of the bigger upsets of the playoffs as many were already talking about the big matchup between Salisbury State and Nazareth that we saw a few years ago in the finals. Middlebury made a big splash last year in the playoffs and are making an even bigger one this year. The Panthers seem to have gotten their timing down just right. While most teams in D3 lacrosse traditionally start their season on or around the first weekend in March, Middlebury didn't play their first game this year until March 19th. Salisbury's first game was February 22nd; they had three regular season games under their belt before March even hit. This late start for Middlebury may hurt them early in the season with matchups like Gettysburg as the second game of the season, but it may be one of the reasons why they are starting to become a fixture late in May. These guys have been playing games for almost an entire month less than Salisbury and may have just a little more spring in their step and a few less bumps and bruises to deal with.

How do these two teams get it done?

When looking at the numbers Salisbury State's offense is deceptively scary. The leading scorer is attackmen Joe High, who's pumped in 73 goals to go along with 21 assists. Midfielder Chris Turner has notched 42 goals and 25 assists over the course of the season. High and Turner are not only the Gull's top 2 scorers, but their best two all around offensive players. Salisbury is heavily loaded on the offensive end with seniors Kevin Fox, Tim Parks, and Rob Bates all able to put up a few of their own. They're complemented by sophomore midfielder Josh Bergey and freshmen attackman Craig Rhodey, who has been coming alive of late, scoring the game-winning goal last week against W&L. The Gull's defense is lead by longpoles Dave DiPaola, Mark Breier, and Hirbod Azmi with two different goalies used in order to anchor down the defense. Both goalies can hold their own; John Dodson has logged 460 minutes in goal and posts a 7.04 GAA, while Pat Tewes has put in 535 minutes in goal and boasts a 5.94 GAA. Although Salisbury sports two solid goalies and good all-around defense, their strong point (like Syracuse) lies within their offensive firepower. Their defense looks to hold the fort down while their offense wins the games for them. Sometimes the best defense is an awesome offense.

Middlebury's offense is not as well rounded, but can still put some points on the board as they proved last week against Nazareth when they scored 13 goals on the #1-seeded team in the tournament. A large percentage of the Panthers scoring comes from their three attackman Holt Hopkins, David Seeley, and Zach Herbert. Attackman Holy Hopkins(53-10-63) has got an absolute rocket, and its lefty, which always helps to balance up any offense. Seeley(36-19-55) and Herbert(35-13-48)round out the attack, along with midfielders Matt Dunn(21-10-31) and Greg Carroll(20-10-30) which builds a healyhy looking box score. Dave Campbell starts in goal for the Panthers, and with Ben Fritz and 1999 Player of the Year Jed Raymond, put up a defense which allows just over 7 goals a game. If somehow the Panther defense could hold the Gulls offense to only seven goals that would be a huge step in the right direction for this Sunday.

This year's playoffs mark the 12th time that Salisbury has qualified for the post season and only the fourth time that Middlebury has been invited. Middlebury and Salisbury State have only played four times before this Sunday's game. In 1985 Middlebury started the series off with an 11-7 victory, but have not won since as Salisbury defeated them 15-4 in 1995, 14-9 in 1998, and 13-6 in last year's 1999 Championship Game. The Salisbury offense has been held to 10 goals only twice this year: once in their 15-10 loss to Washington and once in last week's tight 10-9 victory over W&L. Last year Middlebury was making their first serious run through the May playoffs and may have been a little happy just to be on the field with Salisbury State at Byrd Stadium. If somehow the Middlebury defense can put together an A+ game against the multi-headed Salisbury State attack and hold them to around 10 or less goals, then it will be up to Holt Hopkins' lefty gun and the rest of the Middlebury offense to break into double digits on the day. Salisbury may have years of advantage in the experience department, but Middlebury gained a lot last year. Add to that this year's newly gained experience, a month fresher legs, and a year's worth of regret, and you've got a lot of fuel to add to Middlebury's fire. The underdog Middlebury Panthers will be able to hold the SSU attack somewhat in check, but the Gulls defense and a little extra offensive punch late in the game will be what puts Salisbury over the top. As much as I would like to see the underdog get the bone in this fight, Salisbury State will takes another crown with a nailbiter 12-11 win.

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SSU is simply too strong
    by (#3045) on 5/24/00 @2:11PM
SSU is simply better and should dominate this game. It seemed like they controled the tempo last year, and actually ended up stalling most of the game. If Middleburys golie doesn't get as rattled as much last year it might be closer but it should be another Seagull championship.

SSU 14 Middlebury 7
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Middlebury is rolling
    by (#682) on 5/24/00 @2:38PM
Middlebury will field the best defense that SSU has played all year and it is going to fluster the heck out of the Gulls early and force them to play catch up, this is something they are not used to doing.
Last year was last year and Middlebury will come to play without being nervous. Also the Panthers have a HUGE advantage in the goal. It will be a good game but with a week to prepare Middlebury will have SSU's number.
Middlebury 12 SSU 9
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You're nuts
    by (#1383) on 5/24/00 @5:52PM
Middlebury does have a great defense, and a great goalie, but so did teams like Gettysburg, who they spanked. The thing with SSU is that they just have too much at every position. Jed Raymond will probably bitch slap Joe High, but so what? No one's going to cover Turner or Parks or Bergey or blah, blah...

The difference between division 1 and division 3 was never so much the quality of the top players (there are plenty of guys on division 1 schools who you wouldn't really notice in summer league, and there are plenty of guys on division 3 teams that could easily be stars in D1), it was the sheer number of great players that the teams fielded. SSU is division 1 in that sense. They just have too many weapons to be able to concentrate on only a handful of guys.
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Bitch slap?
    by (#3280) on 5/24/00 @10:46PM
What are you talking about... Joe scores goals no matter what. He scores goals that no one else possible can. Turner and Parks are the key, who ever gets the short pole will determine the tempo of the game.

Good luck Middlebury, keep it close! I believe the real championship game was last game. W&L thanks that was one of the best games I've seen...too bad it wasn't the championship.

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Middlebury Middlebury Middlebury
    by (#2969) on 5/25/00 @1:07PM
Yes... Middlebury will win. It's in the bag. You all know it. Final score 14-6. midd's defense is gonna stomp all over SSU's offense, Midd's attack is gonna make swiss cheese out of SSU's defense; They've done it all year. The Panther's W is already set.

Later wimps

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shut your hole
    by (#2950) on 5/25/00 @5:43PM
Short and simple, heckler you don't know what the hell you're talking about. Salisbury's gonna role all over Middlebury. Your offense is crap and has two less scorers then it did last year. As for Mr. All Everything Jed Raymond, I seem to remember him getting blown buy in last years championship by a D-middie. Campbell is gona come out just like last year and crap his pants and the rest of the team is gonna follow his lead. Salisbury is too good and has way too many returners that made an impact in last years championship game. When the third and fourth quarter come around a couple good attackmen and a good pole aren't gonna get the job done.
let's go gulls!!

be ware of a drunk, balding BLT rushing the field with two minutes left this year
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    by (#3280) on 5/26/00 @4:54PM
The only thing we all know is that you need to lay off the pipes.

Go Gulls...

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Are you Kiding me?
    by (#3336) on 5/27/00 @11:07PM
You can not be serious. Who has Middleberry beat? Anyone who has won of late other then Naz? To say that they will "make swiss cheese out of SSU's defense" shows how ignorant you guys really are. Also if I have to hear about Raymound anymore I am going to throw up. If he is so great and was so good last year then what was the excuse for SSU's victory. On top of all that you better hope your goalie decides to play instead of craping himself like he did last year or you Middleberry fans could be coming all this way for nothing. Go Gulls.
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Go Centerico
    by (#1983) on 5/25/00 @7:39AM
Good luck, Mark Breier.

See ya this summer,

31, an old Mad Dawg.
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SSU 14 Middlebury 8
    by (#1794) on 5/25/00 @1:11PM
You all keep talking about SSU's offense, Defense wins championships. It did last year and it will this year.

Good luck boys!
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    by (#3321) on 5/26/00 @10:31AM
Two Words: Da GULLS
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Panther fans will be ready..... for excuses
    by (#3045) on 5/26/00 @11:06AM
I can see it clearly. Come Monday, the Middlebury fans on this site will have a hundred excuses as to why the panthers got spanked. Its the refs, home field advantage, SSU has more experience, those SSU players couldn't get into Middlebury, The goalie had a bad game, SSU was cheap and dirty, someone had an injury. Pick one Middlebury fans, you know youre going to have to use one of them.
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whoa hold on there
    by (#3081) on 5/26/00 @8:35PM
There won't be any excuses from the quaint village of Middlebury, VT. This budding town tucked and nestled intthe outskirts of the Green Mountains will be cheering for joy come Sunday night and the inevitable Panther win.
You want predictions, Middlebury 13 Salisbury 11.
later bomber breath
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Who is making excuses now bomber?
    by (#682) on 5/28/00 @8:03PM
Where are all the SSU fans? You were trash talking all year and calling us idiots for picking Middlebury. Its funny how you all disappear now that they lost.
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I should have kept my mouth shut
    by (#3045) on 5/30/00 @10:01AM
Your right, I had no basis making predictions on this game. I hadn't seen either team this year and had only seen a couple of D3 games. I based my predictions on last years game as well as comparitive scores as well. I should have stuck with D1 predictions. I guess they only thing I can say is that Gettysburg is the worst post season team in D3. Congrats middlebury. Maybe nescac and upstate will get more respect in the future and not RPI they did not belong there.
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