Salisbury, MD - A quick start, followed by some sloppy play didn't let history repeat itself. The Lynchburg Hornets are the last team to have beaten Salisbury...62 games ago in 2003. Salisbury used three points from seniors Dan Boyer, Ryan Rohde, and Mike Hurley. Junior Max Zarchin overcame a shaky start and no saves in the first quarter, to make some big saves late in the first half and in the third quarter. The effort for Lynchburg was spearheaded by sophomore goalie Garrett Curran's 14 saves.
Despite jumping out to a 5-2 lead at the end of the first quarter, the #1 Sea Gulls couldn’t separate themselves further as Lynchburg fought to keep this game close. Consistent with the Salisbury style of defense, the longpoles pressured out all over the field. Today, however, it came back to bite them as they chased sticks a bit and Lynchburg proved they have the athletes to exploit those opportunities. Lynchburg was able to notch six goals in the first half, all unassisted, by taking advantage of the opportunities given by the overplay of the Salisbury defense. With about thirty seconds to go in the first half, Lynchburg pushed to break a 6-all tie. Salisbury’s goalie, Max Zarchin, who was a non-factor for most of the first half, came to life. He made his first big save on a shot with about :15 left on the clock . That pushed into a transition opportunity for Salisbury, where ultimately Dan Boyer, as he has a habit of doing, made himself open and beat the Lynchburg goalie with just :08 to go. Off the face-off, Scott McAlee, Lynchburg’s do-it all midfielder, won the draw and took a good shot. Zarchin made another nice save as the horn sounded.
“That was a big goal, I was ready to call a timeout, but that kid [Chase Caruso] is so talented with that longstick and it was really unsettled and we had a little bit of an advantage and I was ready to call a timeout and I said ‘no, I’m just going to let him go because they’re going to be able to set the defense up.’ And when it comes unsettled we always play a little better anyways. So I just kind of let him go and he made a big play,” said Salisbury’s Jim Berkman.
A great effort from Lynchburg to end the first half almost changed the tone of the game. “We tell our guys in order to, you gotta take chances. We had a shot, a senior middie, we liked the shot. The kid makes a nice save, they come back and turn around and they score on it. But that game, if we don’t take that shot, we can’t be up by one. So you have to take some risks to be great and I told them at halftime that was a great play and they turned around and made a great play,” said Lynchburg Head Coach Steve Koudelka.
A rare scoring drought for either team started the second half, until a man-up opportunity for Lynchburg gave them their only assisted goal and the last tie for the day with 6:40 to go in the third. Salisbury added two goals before the third ended to send the game to the fourth 9-7.
“We wanted to back off defensively. We were getting overextended a few times. Chris Heier got overextended, Eric DeMunda got over extended one time. Just to back off and make them beat our team defense. Offensively, we didn’t make a whole lot of changes [at the half], we talked about when they went into that orange zone quick slide package thing, we had to make three passes before we shot. We got a couple goals there because they did start chasing there a little bit,” said Berkman of the halftime adjustments.
Lynchburg again cut the lead to one to start the fourth, but Salisbury answered with another two goal run. As Salisbury has proven this year, once they get a lead, it’s hard enough getting the ball back, yet alone staging a comeback.
In a relatively uncharacteristic day for Salisbury, Lynchburg proved that they can hang with them. The offense didn’t move the ball as well as it has all year for Salisbury, and the defense expected to just take the ball away from wherever they wanted. Lynchburg hurt them when that happened, but once Salisbury returned to the fundamentals of team defense, Lynchburg didn’t get too many quality looks.
“I think we have some team speed, and so do they. They scored some goals early because they’re blowing by us, and we’re scoring some goals because we’re blowing them. It’s something you can’t replicate at practice, you can’t put on a scouting report and you can’t put it on film. I think both teams balance each other out there early. It was a one goal game at halftime and they beat us by another goal in the second half,” said Koudelka.
“We made some mental mistakes today and some physical mistakes. We had kids dropping balls against a shortstick and that never happens,” said Salisbury’s Berkman. “Jimmy Creighton going to the goal and he got the ball taken away three times by a shortstick and I’ve never heard of that in his four years. So I think the sign of a good team is that we found a way to win, we found a way to close the game out. We got up a couple goals and at the end they didn’t really have many opportunities. I think that’s probably the most positive – we found a way to win when we weren’t playing well.”
“I think that our kids knew that [Lynchburg being the last team to have beaten Salisbury] and they were ready for this game and they were excited. Just a great environment to play in, 70 degrees, packed stands, a good team going up and down the field. We definitely wanted to beat them because we lost to them 14-13 or 13-12 or whatever it was, three years ago yesterday, nobody’ll ever forget that, nobody’ll ever forget their kids taking grass off the field after they won the game. So we always remind them about that. They answered the bell today. I thought when we got up 5-2 in the first quarter and we were playing pretty good, and we actually could have been up 6-2 or 7-2, that we were going to get it going, but they scored those next two and hung around,” commented Berkman.
Lynchburg did try a different strategy early in the game. They called “black” and pressured Salisbury attackman Eric Bishop when he got the ball. After Bishop exploited it a couple of times, Lynchburg seemed to back off of that part of the game plan.
“Some teams have tried, thinking they can take advantage of Bishop, because he’s more of a shooter and a ball mover not a carrier, because that’s not one of his assets. But he doesn’t usually lose the ball against anybody, I don’t think he did lose it today,” said Berkman. “They did a good job of catching Boyer and pressuring him, he tried to make an outlet pass, not that he threw it away, but we ended up getting a 10-second call because he didn’t touch it in the box, but those guys are shooters. One of the things that they don’t do real well is dodge.”
As for the play of LSM Chase Caruso, Berkman had this to say: “Chase is a great player. I mean last week against Mary Washington he had 9 takeaways in the first half. He had a lot today, he got beat that one time when he got a little bit overextended, but he’s an unbelievable player, just a sick athlete. A great stick. He can take the ball from people, we’re very fortunate. We thought losing Sean White who was a 3-time 1st team All-American and LSM of the year for two years that we were going to go down, and I think actually at this point we’ve actually stepped up in that department.”
Salisbury has continued to assert its dominance, despite what many detractors call a “weak” schedule. They have wins over three current top-5 teams right now (Roanoke, Gettysburg and Lynchburg) and a 62 win streak under their belts. The game today, however, did show some vulnerability.
“Well, I don’t know if we want to see them again. We wouldn’t mind if they lose. I think there are some key parts of that game that we didn’t execute as well as we would have liked to. In order to beat them you have to play great. I thought we played a very good game, I don’t think we played great. I think if this is anything, it gives us a barometer to measure ourselves. I mean everyone thought this game was going to be a blowout,” said Lynchburg’s Koudelka.
Everyone also thought last year’s Championship game against Middlebury wasn’t going to be as close as it turned out to be. With the parity the way it is, if the real Salisbury doesn’t show up, a good team with a great game can end the streak. If the real Salisbury does show up…well 62 games and three championships speak for themselves, but don’t expect many to compete with them if they do.
|Ryan Rohde||(3, 0)|
|Mike Hurley||(1, 2)|
|Dan Boyer||(2, 1)|
|Eric Bishop||(1, 1)|
|Mike Edwards||(0, 2)|
|Kylor Berkman||(1, 1)|
|Chase Caruso||(0, 1)|
|Brett Yoder||(1, 0)|
|Matt Dasinger||(1, 0)|
|Jimmy Creighton||(1, 0)|
|Max Zarchin||7 (0.438)|