When Salisbury hosts York in Capital Athletic Conference tournament final Saturday at 2 p.m. at Sea Gull Stadium, it will be the first time the league foes have met since March 22, when the Sea Gulls won, 11-8.
Salisbury coach Jim Berkman has had his eye on the Spartans ever since.
“I’ve seen every game they’ve played since they played us,” he said Thursday afternoon. “So whatever they’ve changed, I’ve seen. We know who their guys are, and we know who we’ve got to stop, and we know who we’ve got to match up with, and we know what their tendencies are, and we’ve got to limit those tendencies. We’ve got to play a solid 60 minutes. I thought last time, we played a really good first half. We were up 8-3 at one time, and then I thought we just kind of put on the brakes a little bit and let them get back into the game a little bit. And the next thing you know, it was a lot closer than I thought the game should have been if we had played four quarters. So we’re going to have to play four quarters this time around.”
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The Sea Gulls (17-1) – ranked second in the United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association poll – are wary of a pair of attackmen for No. 12 York (15-3). Sophomore Andrew Gamble scored three goals in that first meeting, and junior Tyler Hutson (Winters Mill) scored twice.
Berkman said he has paid particular attention to Spartans sophomore goalkeeper Caleb Abney (Fallston), who made 19 saves against Salisbury.
“We’ve got to shoot well against a big goalie,” Berkman said of the 6-foot-5, 245-pound Abney. “He’s had a good season, and we’ve got to finish because we had a lot of opportunities. I think he had almost 20 saves in that game, and we can’t do that again.”
Salisbury has played in every CAC tournament final since 1999, winning every championship but two. Meanwhile, York will make its first appearance in a tournament title game.
Berkman wouldn’t say whether that experience was an advantage, but he said the Sea Gulls – who fell to St. Mary’s in last year’s tournament final – have much to play for.
“We won the right to host on our field,” he said. “It’s something we’ve worked for all year, and this game not only means the conference championship, but this game definitely does away with any doubt on who would be the No. 1 team in the South. So there’s a lot at stake, and it’s a great challenge.”