Salisbury at Stevenson: Three things to watch
Much will be at stake when the eight-time reigning national champion Sea Gulls (16-3) visit the top-ranked Mustangs (16-1) Wednesday at 4 p.m. in a NCAA Division III tournament quarterfinal. These three developments could have an impact on the outcome.
1) Offensive efficiency is key for two teams ranked in the top 15 in the country in scoring. In Stevenson’s 12-8 victory on April 4, Salisbury, which is fifth after averaging 16.1 goals per game, took 33 shots, but put only 14 on net, which amounts to a 42.4 percentage. In the Sea Gulls’ 13-5 win on April 19, the Mustangs, who rank 13th with a 13.7 average, placed 16 of 33 shots (48.5 percent) on the cage – a number that pales in comparison to Stevenson’s blistering 62.5 percent (25 of 40) efficiency in the first meeting. The team that applies the most pressure on the opposing netminder will likely have the advantage.
2) In a sport where momentum is as fleeting as a faceoff win, both teams thrived on runs in the two contests. In the Mustangs’ victory, they broke open a 6-6 tie with five unanswered goals in a span of 10:34 of the third quarter. Similarly, in Salisbury’s win, the Sea Gulls scored all six goals in the first half and nine of the first 11. Both sides will try to impose their will upon the other, and the team that can resist being overwhelmed could advance to the semifinals on Sunday.
3) Salisbury’s first midfield line of senior Kylor Berkman, junior Mike Von Kamecke and freshman Sam Bradman is a potent mix of power and talent, but that unit struggled in the first meeting. Stevenson limited Berkman and Von Kamecke to one assist and one goal, respectively, and forced them into a combined nine turnovers. The onus will be on Mustangs senior defenseman Mike Simon and sophomore defenseman Evan Douglass to replicate that performance against Berkman and Von Kamecke, respectively. If that happens, the scales might be tipped in favor of the hosts.