Salisbury on the bubble?
Sounds like an implausible situation for a program that has captured eight Division III national championships, including the last two titles. For those associated with the Sea Gulls, such a possibility was rendered moot after the team routed Stevenson and collected its 15th consecutive Capital Athletic Conference Tournament crown Sunday.
But Salisbury coach Jim Berkman admitted Monday morning that had the team lost to the Mustangs in the tournament final, the Sea Gulls -- who leaped from No. 10 to No. 5 in the USILA coaches poll -- may have been shut out of the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1988.
"If we would have lost yesterday, we would have had four losses," Berkman said of his team’s 14-3 record. "I think it’s going to be hard for any team this year -- with only five at-large bids -- to get into the tournament with four losses."
Salisbury’s march to its 21st consecutive NCAA tournament entailed re-matches against the then-No. 1 Mustangs and St. Mary’s, both of which had tagged the Sea Gulls with back-to-back CAC losses for the first time in the program’s history. Salisbury, which had lost those two contests by a combined five goals, outscored Stevenson and the Seahawks, 31-10.
"I don’t think there’s ever been a shortage of confidence here," Berkman said. "I think during the week, there was a sense of urgency that we really needed to pay attention to detail and to play what we wanted to play going into the games. There was a real sense of urgency that our backs were against the wall, that we really needed to win this game because if we didn’t win this game, I don’t know if we would have been in the at-large pool consideration to make the tournament. So there was a real sense of urgency that we needed to get it done and play together and be unselfish to do the things that we needed to do to be successful."