Already adjusting to life without a pair of starters in senior midfielder Ryan Clarke and junior defenseman Danny Sherr, No. 9 Salisbury suffered another blow when second-line midfielder Adam Stork broke his leg during practice Tuesday.
Stork, who has registered three goals and one assists in the team’s last two contests, joins Clarke (ruptured spleen) and Sherr (foot) on the list of players whose seasons have been cut short by injuries. It’s a bewildering stretch of ailments for the Sea Gulls, who have captured the last two national titles and 10 in all.
“It’s definitely frustrating,” coach Jim Berkman said Wednesday morning. “It’s the most major injuries in a short period of time that I can remember. But the flip side of the coin is that everybody stepped up and manned up for the last couple of games. it was the next man up, and that’s why you have a good program and that’s why you have depth. When injuries occur, hopefully, you carry on at relatively the same level you were at before.”
Clarke sustained his injury in the third quarter of Salisbury’s 7-5 win against Widener on Feb. 23, but did not appear injured and played in the final period. But the following night, he told teammates and coaches that he felt woozy and was admitted to a local hospital, where the ruptured spleen was discovered.
Clarke, a Tewaaraton Award candidate this spring who had recorded 35 goals and 29 assists last year, had posted eight goals and five assists in four contests this season. His spot on the first midfield has been filled by junior Tyler Smith, who has recorded two goals and one assist in Clarke’s absence.
“Ryan’s more of a dodger, a one-on-one player. The ball movement has actually been a little bit better the last couple of games because it’s just a little different style than what Ryan’s assets play to,” Berkman said. “We just have to make that adjustment.”
Berkman said Sherr’s foot problems are so acute that he cannot change directions. The team has paired junior Josh Martin with sophomore Knute Kraus in the starting lineup, shifted senior Brett Baer to close defense, and bumped up junior Zeke Smith to long-stick midfielder.
“[W]e’ve started to play great defense,” Berkman said. “We held a great Gettysburg team to five goals, and if it wasn’t for a couple of fluke bounces, they might’ve had three goals. So defensively, we played awful good Saturday. So hopefully, we made some adjustments and we’ll be able to weather the storm.”
Sophomore Alex Nieves and freshman Brady Dashiell are vying for Stork’s place on the second midfield with junior Chris Biank and sophomore James Burton, but Berkman said he might give other candidates a shot.
“It’s kind of been by committee,” he said. “There’s a couple other sophomores that are waiting in the wings that could get an opportunity or two.”