Salisbury coach Jim Berkman says losing streak is not time for panic

Salisbury’s 7-6 double-overtime loss to Washington & Lee Wednesday might raise the panic meter surrounding the 10-time national champion, which is 1-2 for the first time and under .500 for the first time since 1989.

But coach Jim Berkman said that the Sea Gulls’ two-game losing streak is just a minor hiccup for the program.

“There are 17 games in the lacrosse season. We just played three, and we’ve lost two games by a goal – one in double overtime. I don’t panic,” Berkman said Thursday morning. “We’re going to work real hard today. We’re already watching film on Widener [Saturday’s opponent]. We’ve watched the film of the game this morning to make corrections. We’re going to work to continue to get better. This is a work in progress like I’ve said. We’re going to get better each and every day so that the ball starts falling our way at the end of the game, in games that we really should’ve won.”

Much like last Saturday’s 13-12 loss to No. 9 Lynchburg, Salisbury – which will fall from the top spot in the United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association preseason poll when it is updated – had an opportunity to score the go-ahead goal late in the contest against Washington & Lee.

In the second overtime, junior goalkeeper Alex Taylor forced a Generals turnover and got the ball to senior attackman Evan Hammersly. Hammersly found sophomore attackman Wade Korvin alone on a one-on-one against sophomore goalie Warren Berenis, but Korvin’s bounce shot sailed over the cage.  

Seconds later, senior midfielder Jack Switala fed senior midfielder Luke Heinsohn for the game-winning goal with nine seconds left in the extra session.

It’s unknown when the Sea Gulls last opened a season with a 1-2 record or worse. Records earlier than 1998 haven’t been found. Berkman said the players and coaches are chomping at the bit to get back on the positive side of the ledger.

“It’s obviously a place we don’t want to be in,” he said. “We’re going to be working hard to get out of it, that’s for sure. We’re two one-on-ones from being 3-0 right now against two teams that are going to be in the top 10. Both are excellent teams. We had literally two one-on-ones that coaches would dream of to end games. We just didn’t finish.”

Salisbury’s slide shouldn’t be shocking considering that the program graduated six starters and seven of last year’s top eight scorers. But Berkman scoffed at the notion that Sea Gulls would be overlooked by the opponents remaining on their schedule.

“We’re still going to get everybody’s best shot,” he said. “The two teams that just beat us, you would’ve thought they won the national championship after the game, the way they stormed on the field and dove on each other. That is what it is, and we know that’s what it is. We’ve been getting everybody’s best shot for 20 years. Everybody circles Salisbury on their schedule with the thought of beating them. That’s their big thing to prove themselves. We know we’re going to get that. That’s just reality.”

UPDATE: Joshua LaVeck of Salisbury’s sports information office did some research and found that the last time a Sea Gulls team opened a season with a 1-2 record was 1989. That was Berkman’s first year as the program’s head coach.

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