The Salisbury Sea Gulls ran away from a tough Cortland team and a slim 7-6 halftime lead, with a 6-2 third quarter en route to their 7th NCAA Division III Championship and 4th in the last five years. Matt Hickman received the Most Outstanding Player award as he put away five goals and an assist, while senior Eric Bishop grabbed four goals to go along with three assists giving him 101 points on the season. For Cortland, junior midfielder Adam Hyde led the way with four goals and an assist, including a hat trick in the first half.
Baltimore, MD – Coming into the game, not many people were giving Cortland much of a chance. It wasn’t much different from the hype heading into the 2006 DIII National Championship Game. Cortland pulled out a thrilling overtime victory that left a sour taste in the mouth of the Salisbury Sea Gulls. Many thought that the feel-good story of the year 2006 Red Dragons stole the game from Salisbury. Nonetheless, Cortland’s victory heading into today’s match-up stood as the ONLY blemish on Salisbury Class of 2007’s record. Their record heading in was 82-1 over four years.
Cortland’s senior class also has put up an impressive record with a championship last year and a 65-13 record over four years. A slow start with losses to Villa Julie, Saint Lawrence, Nazareth and Cabrini took Cortland off of most people’s radar screens. A one-goal loss to Geneseo in the SUNYAC final put Cortland’s tournament hopes in the hands of the selectors. Given a tournament slot, the Red Dragons took advantage, handling Saint Lawrence, out-lasting upstart Western New England College and then passing Wesleyan by a goal, to set up a chance for a repeat and/or revenge for Salisbury.
Cortland didn’t waste any time going to work putting the doubters to rest. Given possession off the first face-off due to an illegal procedure, they settled down into their patient offense. They worked it around and drew a slide, moved it to the guy in the middle, but he was unable to finish as a Salisbury defender got his stick into his hands as he was shooting. Following the wide shot, Cortland again showed patience. Finally Adam Hyde pulled his man all the way up top towards the sideline. Hyde dodged to the middle, rolled back towards the side, dodged to the middle and rolled back again. This time he got his hands free and put a right-handed shot past Salisbury senior goalie Max Zarchin’s stick-side shoulder 1:28 into the game.
Not used to playing behind, Salisbury pulled the face-off back and got a looseball push call their way giving them their first possession of the game. Salisbury looked to settle down into their offense. Sophomore Kylor Berkman looked to feed to senior Matt Dasinger coming down the side. Unable to connect on the pass, Cortland cleared it in using a one-man clear by junior Pasquali Praino. Salisbury didn’t want to allow Cortland to get settled on offense as their longpoles were pressuring all over the defensive side of the field and pressured out on adjacents towards the top and sideline. Cortland moved from a 2-2-2 into a circle offense. Eventually defenseman Chris Heier forced a turnover behind and Salisbury cleared it.
Again on the offensive, Salisbury dropped into what appeared to be a 2-4 from behind. They tried to make the first look inside again, and were again unsuccessful. This time Cortland brought it down on a fast-break with senior defenseman Cheney Raymond. Raymond carried it himself all the way and dunked it over Zarchin from the doorstep. Not many people predicted Salisbury to start this game down 2-0 because of two dropped passes on offense.
The ensuing face-off was won by Salisbury’s Ryan DeRose. Despite a little struggle clearing the ball, Salisbury finally settled into the offensive box. The younger Berkman dodged down the side and rolled back towards the top-side. He saw Matt Hickman wide open on the high crease. Berkman looked like he hesitated because he was shocked to see Hickman that wide open. Hickman took the pass and put a righty bouncer in for his first goal of the day and finally put Salisbury on the board at the 9:32 mark.
Bill Gleason answered for Cortland by winning the net face-off. Cortland worked it around until Ryan Simensky found Mike Felice open inside. Felice buried a high shot past Zarchin to stretch the lead to 3-1 Cortland. Cortland got the next possession and generated another nice shot. Zarchin appeared to get a piece of it and eventually Salisbury forced a turnover and gained possession. Junior Brett Yoder tried to force a ball inside but another dropped pass led to another Cortland possession. Following the clear by d-middie Keith Greene, Cortland again worked the ball around. This time Chris Dutkowsky wound up wide open inside. Mike Felice found him; Dutkowsky caught it with his left, switched to his right and put a ball inside the far pipe. Dutkowsky’s goal gave Cortland a 4-1 lead with 5:16 left in the half. Of their first four goals, two came as results of poor Salisbury possessions and all four came from nice ball movement as Cortland methodically found the openings in the Salisbury defense.
The next few minutes of lacrosse was pure up-and-down the field excitement. Salisbury got possession on a timeout, Kevin Kustron possessed back at X, got his defender tied up. He fed it across to Hickman who ripped a shot low. Cortland sophomore goalie Mike Robinson made the save, but the ball trickled past him. Robinson was able to turn and stop the ball just as it was about to roll over the goal-line. It was a chance to remember the overtime goal that Cortland snuck in last year that trickled over the goal-line. To the dismay and anger of Salisbury, no goal and Cortland started to clear it. On the clear, Salisbury absolutely leveled a Cortland player at midfield knocking his helmet off, awarding possession to Cortland. On that possession, Cortland zipped the ball around and threaded the needle to the back-side pipe as a Red Dragon leapt and tried to smack the ball in. The quick stick went wide and he landed in the crease giving Salisbury possession.
On the ensuing possession, Yoder possessed it down the side for Salisbury and forced a pass inside to Bishop. Somehow Bishop handled it, faked high and then put a cross-handed shot around Robinson cutting the lead to 4-2. Salisbury’s next possession left the ball in Bishop’s stick. Bishop dodged down the side, pushed back top-side and then fed inside to Kevin Kustron. Kustron’s shot dinged off the pipe and went into a Cortland transition. Salisbury senior LSM went for an ice-pick on the Cortland clearing longpole. The defender ran through the check and drew the slide moving the ball inside for a quick stick, but the shot went wide. Salisbury again gained possession. They possessed the ball at the back of the crease with the defender tied up at the top of the crease. They attempted to squeeze a pass over the cross bar, but that led to a turnover. Cortland tried to float the ball upfield, but Salisbury senior Luis Gonzales made an athletic leaping one-handed snag and possessed t as the clock wound down on the first quarter and a 4-2 Cortland lead.
Salisbury didn’t waste much time taking control of the game in the 2nd quarter. Winning the first face-off, Salisbury’s possession fell into the hands of Matt Hickman. Hickman dodged from the wing and pushed top-side. The Cortland longpole missed the check and Hickman put a lefty sidearm shot low to make it 4-3.
Max Zarchin came up with a save with about 5:00 gone in the quarter and pushed it into transition. Berkman drove and dumped it inside to Hickman for his 3rd goal of the game and the first tie. On Salisbury’s next possession, freshman Mike Von Kamecke drove around the net and pushed top-side. He put a bounce shot that bounce outside of the crease. The slow bouncer fooled Robinson as it slowly carried over him and landed in the net just under the pipe for Salisbury’s 1st lead of the day. Von Kamecke’s goal came :29 after Hickman’s 3rd.
In response, Cortland’s Hyde drove lefty and tried to get a shot off. Salisbury’s defender got a stick on it and managed to push into transition the other way. Matt Dasinger carried it himself across midfield. As the fast-break developed, Greg Titus found the opening at the bottom of the Cortland’s D triangle. Dasinger got it inside and Titus finished it for the 6-4 lead at the 8:30 mark. Again with possession, a wide shot gave Bishop the ball at X off the whistle. He carried it in, faked to his left, but went back to his right tripping up his defenseman. As he pushed top-side, he got his hands free and ripped a high-to-low shot past Robinson for the 7-4 lead.
Cortland finally broke the six goal Salisbury run on the next face-off. Junior Josh Cittadino pushed the fast-break forward to himself pushing it into a break. He went for a righty jump shot, but Salisbury got a check in. Cittadino managed to push out a very slow bounce shot that slowly carried over Zarchin. Cittadino’s goal came just :07 after Bishop’s and eased the bleeding at 7-5. Shortly after Mike Robinson made a big save on a bounce shot at the tail end of a Salisbury fast-break. He followed that up with another big save on Salisbury’s next possession.
With just :09 to go in the half, Cortland had the ball at the top of the box following a timeout. Off the whistle, Adam Hyde possessed and drove top-side towards a set-up pick. Salisbury wasn’t able to handle the pick, so Hyde was able to get a step on his man. With the step, Hyde had the room to bury a right-handed blast in cutting the lead to 7-6 with :04 left in the half.
On the first possession of the 2nd half, Hyde again took over. This time he drove from behind the goal, stepped top-side and put a sidearm shot in, knotting the game at 7 apiece. Unfortunately, Salisbury’s offense and transition started to click. First Eric Bishop drove following a wide shot and found Greg Titus who cut from up-top and was wide open inside at the 13:27 mark. Next Salisbury went into a 2-2-2, Matt Dasinger tried to drive into the middle, rolled back to the outside and pushed down the wing. He buried a right-handed jump shot past Robinson at the 10:16 mark for the 10-7 lead. Salisbury won the next face-off, Bishop got off a shot that appeared to hit a pipe, he got the rebound and carried it to his right. He looked back and found Titus. Titus wasn’t open, but somehow managed to handle the pass and bury the shot quickly at the 9:57 mark for an 11-7 Salisbury lead.
As Salisbury’s offense started to click, their defense started to step up the pressure and not allow Cortland to settle into their patient offense and get comfortable. Chris Heier pressured the ball down the side, Cortland worked it around and found a guy on the backside. A high shot was controlled by Zarchin leading to transition the other way. Kustron found Hickman to finish the fast-break with 8:36 remaining in the 3rd. The five goal Salisbury run burst open a 7-7 game to a 12-7 lead. Cortland didn’t go quietly away as they traded fastbreaks and saves by the goalie continuing the frantic pace. Finally Adam Hyde ended the drought and drove to the middle on a break. He dumped it to Billy Fuchs who ripped a left-handed low-to-high shot from a low angle that Zarchin didn’t really have a chance on to make it 12-8. Cortland wouldn’t get any closer.
A lazy pass that tried to go over two Salisbury longpoles from the middle to X led into another Salisbury possession. Following a turnover, Cortland had a chance to clear it, but turned it over following a crease violation. On the ensuing possession as time was winding down in the quarter, Bishop possessed the ball along goal-line extended. He saw Dasinger on a full speed sprint from the substitution box and found him. Dasinger handled it and buried it with just :01 left in the 3rd. The assist gave Bishop 100 points on the season.
Adam Hyde would add his 4th goal for Cortland, while Bishop added two more 4th quarter goals. Salisbury worked the ball around and ultimately ran out the clock on any upset plans that Cortland had. Both goalies played about what you would expect in a game like this. They came up with most of the saves they should have and a few they shouldn’t. Zarchin slightly beat out Robinson as he had 12 saves to Robinson’s 11. Salisbury held a 43-34 shot advantage and a 48-33 groundball advantage. More importantly, Cortland had 23 turnovers to Salisbury’s 17.
As for the revenge factor, getting a chance to beat Cortland, the one team that beat them in their four years seemed to be something that Salisbury cherished.
“Redemption wasn’t the word I was going to use,” said senior goalie Max Zarchin. “But I did lose a lot of sleep after last year’s game. I spent a lot of nights waking up in a cold sweat and just imagining that shot going in, so redemption would be the theme of today. We weren’t looking for revenge or anything like that, but it was definitely good to get another shot against the same team. I was definitely more comfortable today than I was last year.”
Salisbury’s team of 2007 has left their mark on the NCAA record books as they set NCAA records for wins in a season with 23, goals scored in a season with 417, assists in a season with 271, and overall points with 688 points (all points records had been previously held by their 1995 team).
As for where this team sits in the history books, Salisbury coach Jim Berkman had this to say.
“I told the guys before the game, there is a lot of Seagull lore in Salisbury and there is a lot of tradition of lacrosse. One team is always comparing themselves to another team. I told these guys that they rate right up there with one of the best teams ever. The 1995 team was also pretty special and today we just broke our goal record by about six goals, but we played 23 games. Back in 1995 that team played 17 games and scored 409 goals, that was a pretty special team. But I told this team if someone mentions what was the best team of all time that their name would definitely be mentioned in that sentence.”
Cortland senior attackman Mike Felice summed it up well for Cortland.
“When we were selected for the NCAA Tournament, we were all pretty surprised. We knew we had to make a run at this with the second chance we were given,” Felice said. “Going into the tournament with five losses and then advancing to the championship playoff round, a lot of people didn’t think we could do it. That’s when we came together as a team. We didn’t want to give up and we wanted to prove everyone wrong. We got to the national championship. We didn’t win, but we left it all out there today.”
Salisbury senior attackman and 1st team All-American Eric Bishop summed it up for the Salisbury seniors: “It’s obviously been the best four years of our lives and I think every senior will agree with that. We have accomplished a feat that no one in the entire athletic world has done and we are so happy to be back to the championship today and to come out on top with three rings it is just unbelievable. I’m so happy and speak for all the seniors and all the players on the team when I say that.”
|Eric Bishop||(4, 3)|
|Matt Hickman||(5, 1)|
|Matt Dasinger||(2, 1)|
|Kylor Berkman||(0, 3)|
|Greg Titus||(3, 0)|
|Mike Edwards||(0, 1)|
|Kevin Kustron||(0, 1)|
|Mike Von Kamecke||(1, 0)|
|Max Zarchin||12 (0.571)|