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April 26, 2008

Berkman bucks the trend

Salisbury coach Jim Berkman isn't one victory shy of the NCAA record for career wins by a coach by maintaining the status quo.

Berkman, who is 325-35 in 21 years of coaching, began this season with junior Riley Clark in goal. Clark, who played in 17 games last spring, started in the Sea Gulls' first 11 contests, but was pulled after surrendering two goals to Gettysburg in the first nine minutes of the game on March 29.

Berkman inserted junior Zach Krissoff, and the Annapolis native and graduate has started the last six contests. Although Krissoff has a better goals-against average (5.35 to 7.23) and save percentage (.617 to .527) than Clark, Berkman said he would not hesitate to use Clark if the situation called for a goalie change.

"I think most of the players on our team would say that it didn’t matter who was in goal, that they could both stop the ball," Berkman said. "And no one had emerged to be that much better than the other one. Riley had a big game against Dennison and then he had a rough start in the Gettysburg game. Zach answered the bell and Zach had a great game the other day. … We’ve got two really good goalies, and we feel very good about them. They both handled it extremely well. If you go to the tailgates after the game, who are the two guys sitting together? It’s Riley’s and Zach’s dads."

Krissoff will need to play well today against a Washington team that averages 12.8 goals per game. The Shoremen (12-1), ranked No. 4 by Inside Lacrosse, are itching to beat No. 1 Salisbury (17-0) for the first time since May 4, 2002 -- a string of seven consecutive losses for Washington.

Posted by Edward Lee at 12:06 PM | | Comments (0)
        

April 20, 2008

A budding rivalry?

When it comes to rivalries in the state of Maryland, Johns Hopkins-Maryland may be No. 1 with Salisbury-Washington a close No. 2.

No. 2A just may be Salisbury-Villa Julie.

The Capital Athletic Conference foes combined for 19 penalties resulting in 17 minutes, 30 seconds of man-up (or man-down depending on how you look at it) play. Throw in the teams' first meeting on April 5, and Salisbury and Villa Julie have racked up 36 penalties and 30 minutes.

Today's CAC Tournament final featured six unnecessary roughness calls (three on each team), five slashing whistles (four on Salisbury) and an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty assessed to Villa Julie coach Paul Cantabene near the end of the third quarter.

"We recruit against them a lot," Cantabene said of competing with the Sea Gulls. "We don't necessarily agree with everything they do, but I don't think they necessarily agree with everything that we do. ... They've won a lot of titles doing the things that we do, and we're a building program trying to get to what they do. We're close, but we're not as mentally tough as they are."

Salisbury senior defenseman Ryan Phillips laughed when he was asked if the number of penalties suggested that the two teams don't like each other.

"Whenever we play them, we know it's going to be a tough game," Phillips said. "They're battlers just like us. They're not going to back down from any groundballs. We know it's going to be a little rough, but we tried to keep our heads."

Posted by Edward Lee at 4:24 PM | | Comments (0)
        

April 17, 2008

Navy: Our lips are sealed

Junior Matt Coughlin has returned to practice and is moving around with little effect from his aggravated right hamstring, but no one is saying whether Coughlin or junior Tommy Phelan will start in the net in the No. 10 Midshipmen's contest against No. 6 Johns Hopkins (4-5) on Saturday.

"He's ready to play. We just haven't made a decision yet," coach Richie Meade said of Coughlin. "But he's ready. We think he's practiced to a point where we think he's recovered."

Coughlin, who started the team's first eight games before injuring his hamstring in Navy's 4-3 overtime win against Bucknell on March 19, compiled a 4.53 goals-against average and a .600 save percentage. The goalie production has barely slipped with Phelan, who has posted a 6.25 goals-against average and a .597 save percentage in four starts.

So does Meade go with the guy who was 6-1 in Coughlin or the hot hand in Phelan, who is 3-2?

"Those types of decision are the decisions that coaches make," Meade said. "I haven't decided one way or the other. We're in that process right now."

Posted by Edward Lee at 11:56 AM | | Comments (0)
        

April 16, 2008

Take steps to limit concussions

Concussions are becoming a big part of lacrosse, and there are a number of ways to reduce them.

First of all, there are some real nicely designed helmets out there. They have as much padding inside as football helmets. They might be slightly heavier than the lacrosse helmets, but after a while, players rarely notice the difference. These helmets might cost more money, but are worth the price.

I also think that the officiating groups that govern lacrosse should get together and either administer more penalties for blows to the head, or just give out ejections. Right now, blows to the head are subjective calls, just like facemasking penalties were in the NFL. There were five-yard penalties for some facemasks, and 15 yards for others. Now, the NFL has ruled that all facemask penalties are 15 yards. That's the way it should be in lacrosse with blows to the head.

Finally, coaches need to be challenged. We live in a bloodthirsty world. We teach kids to play for the big hit, the "kill shot." That's wrong. It's one thing to teach a kid to be physical, another to allow them to take out other players intentionally. I've often seen kids walk to the sideline after a late, cheap shot, and the coaches don't say anything. We really need to do a better job of educating players about safety.

Lacrosse is a great game, but the number of concussions in the sport are rising. They'll keep going up until we make some changes, or unfortunately, until some kid really gets seriously hurt.

-- Mike Preston

Posted by Ron Fritz at 1:40 PM | | Comments (1)
        

April 9, 2008

Tigers still in the hunt

Minutes after Towson’s 9-6 loss to UMBC on April 1, Tigers coach Tony Seaman held court inside Johnny Unitas Stadium and insisted that the team, 2-6 at the time, still had a shot at earning an invitation to the NCAA Tournament. An at-large bid was out of the question, but Towson needed to qualify as one of the top four teams in the Colonial Athletic Association and win the conference tournament to get the automatic qualifier.

The Tigers took a step toward realizing that goal by upending then-No. 16 Delaware, 10-7, on Saturday. Towson improved to 3-6 overall and 2-1 in the conference and is currently third in the CAA standings behind No. 10 Drexel (9-2, 2-0) and No. 17 Hofstra (4-4, 2-1).

"It definitely puts us back in the picture now," Seaman said of the victory. "We beat one of the better teams in the CAA, a team with a pretty good record that had a couple big wins and was ranked."

After the loss to UMBC, several Tigers players publicly released some steam before walking back to the locker room. The mood has changed since Saturday.

"It’s completely different," senior midfielder Timmy Andre said. "It’s not easy being 3-6, and it’s very easy to leave when things aren’t going well. ... But [winning] just felt good. Everybody’s on the same page, everyone was excited about it. We’re looking forward to the next game."

Towson has three games against CAA opponents remaining, including a road contest against Sacred Heart today and a home tilt against the Dragons on Saturday. Then it’s on to the league tournament, where the Tigers can determine their future.

"Coach Seaman has said it before: you never want to leave it up to the [selection committee] to decide if you’re going to get in or not," Andre said. "We just want to win our conference. That’s always our first goal every year."

Posted by Edward Lee at 10:57 AM | | Comments (1)
        
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Faceoff is The Baltimore Sun's blog devoted to college and high school lacrosse. Faceoff contributors include Sun reporters Edward Lee, Mike Preston and Katherine Dunn.
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