Salisbury at Stevenson: Three things to watch
It doesn’t get any more thrilling than this: No. 2 Salisbury at No. 1 Stevenson at Caves Athletic Complex in Owings Mills on Saturday at 2 p.m. Here are a few developments that factor into the outcome.
1. One key to a Salisbury win: The Sea Gulls have avoided the injury bug, but the same cannot be said for the Mustangs, who will likely start senior Andrew Harrington in the net as senior Geoff Hebert recovers from a broken pinkie finger. Harrington is no slouch, anchoring a unit that surrendered just nine goals to then-No. 7 Roanoke – a team that had topped Division III in scoring. But Harrington has not played in this type of atmosphere with this type of fervor and intensity surrounding the game. Therefore, it’s incumbent for Salisbury to attack Harrington. That’s not to say that the nation’s fourth-most prolific offense, which averages 15.2 goals per game, should take shots every time it touches the ball, but the Sea Gulls should test Harrington early and often. And by the way, in the team’s only victory over Stevenson in the Capital Athletic Conference Tournament final, Salisbury outshot the Mustangs and placed 23 of 34 shots on net for a .676 percentage.
2. One key to a Stevenson win: The Sea Gulls thrive on chaotic, unsettled situations, and they also love to take advantage of man-up opportunities. The offense has converted 28 of 69 extra-man chances, ranking 15th in the country in that department. The Mustangs have held up will in man-down situations, surrendering just 10 goals in 51 opportunities – which is good enough for 39th in the nation. In a contest that figures to be charged, penalties could play a role and which team can either take advantage or nullify those chances could enhance their odds of emerging with the victory. In Stevenson’s wins in the regular season and the NCAA Tournament quarterfinals, Salisbury converted just 2-of-10 situations.
3. One key match-up: Sophomore midfielder Sam Bradman fuels the Sea Gulls offense, leading the team in goals (36), assists (15) and points (51). Blessed with speed and an accurate shot, Bradman is certainly living up to the standards set by Kylor Berkman, a three-time National Midfielder of the Year. Bradman could see a lot of Mustangs senior long-stick midfielder Mike Gustowarow, who ranks third on the team in caused turnovers (9) and fourth in groundballs (20). That match-up should draw a lot of interest on both sides of the field.