Review & preview: Salisbury
Here is the seventh and final installment of a series that checks in with the seven Division III programs in the state to evaluate the past and offer a glimpse into the future. Friday, we take a visit with Salisbury.
The good: For much of the 2011 campaign, the Sea Gulls (21-1 overall and 7-1 in the Capital Athletic Conference) had done a pretty good job of refraining from talking about last year’s 9-6 loss to Tufts in the NCAA tournament final. But after beating Roanoke in the semifinals and guaranteeing a rematch with the Jumbos, the players openly relished another shot at Tufts and exacted a measure of revenge with a 19-7 thrashing. “The year before, I think in everybody’s minds and the players especially, we didn’t give our best effort that day,” coach Jim Berkman said. “We didn’t mentally or physically play up to our capabilities. It’s one thing to get beat when you don’t play well, and obviously, Tufts did some things to not allow us to play well on that day, but the performance that we exhibited there in 2010 was nothing remotely like we had played down the stretch. Scoring six goals which is kind of unheard of from us, but again, credit has to be given to Tufts. By the same token, we had some kids that hadn’t been there before, and when the lights were on, they didn’t play very well. In 2011, some of those same guys played unbelievable because it was their second time there and they were a little more comfortable.” … Several players had career years, including sophomore Ryan Clarke, who joined junior Sam Bradman and senior Shawn Zordani on the first midfield. Clarke registered 10 goals and 12 assists and meshed well with Bradman (55, 23) and Zordani (31, 29), who got more touches than Clarke. “To see Ryan Clarke go from the second midfield to the first midfield down the stretch and get big goals, he just really, really blossomed,” Berkman said. “And it’s scary to see how good he could really become if he works on his shooting.” … After graduating faceoff specialist Ryan Finch (211-of-349 for .605 and 146 ground balls), Salisbury didn’t miss a beat with the insertion of Tyler Granelli. The sophomore went 220-of-337 for .653 and collected 110 ground balls despite not playing much in 2009 as a freshman at Cortland and sitting out 2010 after undergoing knee surgery in the preseason. “After each game, he just got better and better,” Berkman said. “… For him to play that well and continue to improve during the course of the season and really grab that role, I had no idea how good he was going to be. EspeciaIly with him coming off of knee surgery the year before, and he virtually had no college experience because he really didn’t play at Cortland.”