The Salisbury Sea Gulls pulled out their 69th straight win in dramatic fashion. It was just the 4th game in the run decided by one goal. Roanoke fought to bring themselves back from an 11-5 deficit with 3:40 to play in the 3rd quarter. Salisbury was led by a couple of seniors on their last game in Sea Gull Stadium. Dan Boyer had 3 goals, while Mike Hurley netted 4, and Jimmy Creighton scored probably the biggest goal of his career 2:01 into overtime. Freshman Kylor Berkman also put a lot on his shoulders as he netted one goal and assisted on three others, while stepping in and going 7 for 11 at the face-off circle. Underclassmen did the bulk of the scoring for Roanoke as sophomore attackmen Zack Thomas (3g) and Scott Pattison (2,2) led the attack, while freshman midfielder Chaz Carlson also went 2 and 2 on the day.
This Final Four showdown was all Salisbury for most of the game. It started out all Salisbury as they jumped to a 4-1 lead, after initially both teams trading very long possessions and neither solving the other’s defense. Roanoke responded with three straight goals in under 2 minutes to close out the 2nd quarter, only to have Salisbury sneak one in just before halftime to make it 5-4. The third quarter saw Salisbury go on 2 three-goal runs to stretch the game to a seemingly comfortable 11-5 lead.
Salisbury had been playing, as they’ve done all year, a ball control offense where they work it around, pick the match-up and attack. If it’s not there, their offense is patient and balanced enough that they move it 2-3 passes and attack again. This was pretty much the pace of the early part of the game. Salisbury attacked, nothing, moved it, attacked, Roanoke closed the opportunity, moved it again, etc. All of that was what made Mike Hurley’s goals so important. A couple of his goals came on unsettled situations where he correctly identified some sort of match-up, once it was a dodge underneath as he noticed both teams were focusing on subbing players to get the offensive and defensive personnel on the field. Another was a sort of a transition where he got a little room and ripped a shot with the defense caught slightly unaware. In any case, Hurley’s goals would prove huge, because they came at times when despite controlling the ball, Salisbury had trouble finishing and really stretching the lead any further. The Salisbury offense probably possessed the ball for at least 80% of the game. It wouldn’t be surprising if it were closer to 90%, however those stats aren’t available yet.
Offensively, Roanoke struggled all day in 6-on-6 situations. They are a self-proclaimed run-and-gun team, and Salisbury really did a nice job of limiting those opportunities early in the game and making them play 6-on-6. As the game wore on, Roanoke got a chance to push it a little. They got two goals 20 seconds apart late in the third. Then Greg Baggan took a Mike Edwards pass, that didn’t appear to be intended for him, and put Salisbury up 12-7 with just :10 left on the clock in the third quarter. Roanoke managed to get a quick shot off as Chaz Carlson pushed it to Zack Thomas who squeezed it in with just :02 left in the third. It was a big momentum boost for Roanoke to score and go into the fourth down 4, 12-8.
As Salisbury’s done all year, when they have a lead that they feel is pretty comfortable they go into an offense which they refer to as the “finisher”, whereby they basically play keep-away, which resembles their ball movement offense anyway, just without the attacking to score part. Twice in the first quarter Salisbury had been warned for stalling and instructed to ‘keep it in’ because they weren’t able to generate the looks they wanted at the net. However, they definitely weren’t moving the ball just to kill the clock as the rule is seemingly intended to police, but were working for their match-ups. It was an interesting use of the call as opposed to the quick call I saw refs do the weekend before in the Penn-Hopkins match-up. That case was different as Penn was looking to possess the ball. Salisbury was looking to run their offense. In any case, it’s always interesting to see how those types of rules, which call for a bit of judgment on the refs’ parts, play out.
As the fourth quarter began, Salisbury almost immediately seemed to jump into this offense. For better or worse, they weren’t attacking the goal, generating only 2 shots in the period, despite an overwhelming time of possession advantage still. The one thing that Roanoke has proven is the ability to score goals in bunches this year. Without putting the game away, Salisbury left the door open for Roanoke. Slowly, but surely, they took advantage of unsettled opportunities as they presented themselves. Brendan Moore scored with 9:58 to go in the game to cut the lead to 12-9. More Salisbury possession, until Zack Thomas scored to cut the lead to 12-10 with 4:35 to play.
At the end of the game, the ball was in the stick of ODAC Player of the Year senior Chris Keating as it should have been. Despite being quiet offensively for most of the day (he did play solid defense all day), he took over as senior leaders need to when his team needed him most. He took a Scott Pattison pass and made the game a one goal game with 1:59 to play. He scored again with just :15 seconds to go on a strange play, which I missed exactly what developed due to focusing in with my camera. Basically Keating drove hard down the right side and was forced to have no angle on a shot, the ball appeared to bounce towards X. Brendan Moore came up with the looseball and fed Keating who quick-sticked it into the net to tie the game.
With the game tied, Salisbury’s Berkman controlled the face-off amid an obvious push by Roanoke’s Rich Li, which the ref let go most likely due to the nature of the game at that time and there being less than 15 seconds to go. Salisbury got the ball down on offense and managed two shots (I believe). The first Matt Madalon came up with a big save and the second Salisbury’s Ryan Rodhe missed the net. You can see in some of the pictures his obvious distress over the miss.
The only overtime game in Salisbury’s remarkable run began in a way that Salisbury supporters didn’t want to see. Roanoke won a face-off clean, which was a rarity on the day. They pushed the ball onto offense and generated a nice shot. Max Zarchin, who plays best when the situation calls for it, stepped up and made the save. He finished with 12 saves on the day, but really made some impressive saves. The one in overtime might be the biggest of his career, while not that impressive looking, it did keep the streak alive. Salisbury got the ball on offense where senior middie Jimmy Creighton proceeded to dodge and dodge again, trying to back his man in. It was one of those slow moving possessions where you want to scream ‘move the ball’. Back-and-forth he went, and then the Roanoke defense sloughed off him just enough and suddenly he had some time and room for a shot. He put the shot past Madalon stick side about hip-to-shoulder high for the win in dramatic fashion.
Despite having a nearly identical situation to the Gettysburg-Roanoke game, with the roles reversed, it had a different feel. Roanoke had the ball and a timeout with 31.8 seconds on the clock, trailing by one, 12-11. Whereas, in the Gettysburg-Roanoke game, Gettysburg had the ball and a timeout with 35.6 seconds on the clock, trailing by one, 13-12. The Gettysburg-Roanoke game was very much a back-and-forth with two top teams playing with their backs against the wall. The Roanoke-Salisbury game, while in theory had the same situation, the teams didn’t play that way. Roanoke was a bit sloppy throughout the early part of the game, but yet still seemed to be able to score pretty easily in transition when they wanted. Salisbury was dominating the possession time, but yet couldn’t quite generate the looks they’re used to. Salisbury seemed content to run out the clock and go to the National Championship game, whereas Roanoke decided to wake up and really come to play late. So in that respect it wasn’t quite as entertaining as the quarter-final game, especially when Salisbury held a 6 goal lead. But the end definitely gave excitement that Salisbury fans haven’t had to experience much of over the last 4 seasons. Maybe the closest to it would have been last year’s National Championship win where they needed a goal with 5 seconds left to beat Middlebury.
Salisbury travels up to Philadelphia to take on Cortland, who they last played in 2002 and lost to, 11-5. Both teams are pretty evenly matched and appear eerily similar on paper. Both have patient offenses who can score in bunches that feature a lot of different players that can hurt you. Their LSMs are the two best in the country. Both midfields are arguably the two deepest units in the country. Both goalies have had very good seasons despite flying mostly under the radar, leaving the press to talk about some of the other good goalies in DIII, all of whom are sitting at home right now. Whether the South is stronger than the North this year will be answered the day before Memorial Day. It should be quite a showdown.
|Mike Hurley||(4, 0)|
|Kylor Berkman||(1, 3)|
|Jimmy Creighton||(1, 2)|
|Mike Edwards||(1, 2)|
|Dan Boyer||(3, 0)|
|Brett Yoder||(1, 1)|
|Ryan Rohde||(1, 1)|
|Greg Baggan||(1, 0)|
|Max Zarchin||12 (0.500)|