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Salisbury leaning on improved play in net and faceoffs

When Salisbury takes the field Wednesday against Washington & Lee since losing a 31-game winning streak in a 13-12 setback to Lynchburg last Saturday, coach Jim Berkman will pay a good deal of attention to the middle.

Junior goalkeeper Alex Taylor, who anchors the defense, and senior Tyler Granelli, who headlines the faceoff unit, slogged through surprisingly poor showings in the loss to the Hornets -- a result that will surely drop the Sea Gulls from the top spot in the United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association preseason poll.

But Berkman is confident that both starters will perform better against the Generals.

“[W]e didn’t get it done at the faceoff X and we didn’t get it done in the cage on Saturday, and both those guys know that, and I’m sure that won’t happen again,” he said.

Berkman said that Taylor, a Woodbine native and Glenelg graduate, appeared to struggle seeing the ball against an overcast sky that occasionally dropped sleet during the game. But Berkman also conceded that Taylor – who made just six saves – wasn’t his usual self.

“He let in several goals that were very atypical of him,” Berkman said of Taylor, who ranked second in Division III last season in both goals-against average (4.92) and save percentage (.660). “… Four or five 19-yard shots, a couple shots with no angles that would have been – for the last 25 games with him – easy saves. … It is what it is. We did some good things, we did some things that weren’t so good, and we’ve got to continue to improve and get better, which I know the team is going to do.”

Similarly, Granelli had a tough time on faceoffs, winning just 6-of-16 draws, collecting four ground balls, and earning two penalties for faceoff violations. But Berkman said Granelli’s problem was being unable to adjust to an official holding a count for a longer-than-usual period.

“We can’t have a senior letting a referee get into his head because he’s holding the count longer than ever,” Berkman said of Granelli, who had won 66.3 percent of his faceoffs and collected 164 ground balls in 2012. “I’ve never seen a ref hold a faceoff count for that long and that continuous. But that is what it is. You have to be disciplined at the X, and we weren’t there on Saturday and [the official] got into his head a little bit. Against a team we should’ve won the faceoff battle, we lost the faceoff battle.”

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