When Salisbury and Gettysburg get together, a No. 1 ranking is usually involved. It will be no different when the Sea Gulls pay the Bullets a visit on Saturday at 1 p.m.
In the last 10 meetings between these teams, one of the teams has been ranked atop Division III. But for the first time in that span, Salisbury is not the No. 1 team – which is just fine with Sea Gulls coach Jim Berkman.
"It's a great game because you're playing a team that is one of the top teams in the country, and you've got to play well for 60 minutes," he said. "That's what athletes want to do. They want to compete, and they want to play against the best. This game has become a big rivalry game. … It's a fun game to play in, and I know our guys are looking forward to it as are their guys. It'll be a real test to see where we stand and where we need to go from there."
Both teams enter with identical 9-0 records and similar weapons. Salisbury ranks sixth in the country in scoring, while Gettysburg is 12th. The Bullets are tied for 11th in man-up offense, while the Sea Gulls are 19th.
Gettysburg reached last year's NCAA Tournament final before losing to SUNY Cortland, but avenged that setback by toppling the Red Dragons from the No. 1 ranking earlier in the season. Despite graduating five All Americans including the Division III Player of the Year in long-stick midfielder Tommy Kehoe, Bullets coach Hank Janczyk is one of the most respected in his profession at keeping his team near the top of the standings.
"It's a program that's been around a long time with Coach Janczyk," Berkman said. "The faces change and the names change, but they do a lot of similar things. They're very talented at every position, and they always have a lot of depth. They're a pretty disciplined team, they work for really goods shots, and they play good team defense."
Five of the last seven meetings between the teams have been decided by three goals or less as both sides are quite familiar with each other's strengths and weaknesses. That's why Berkman said he doesn't expect too many surprises on Saturday.
"There's no secret to what Coach Janczyk does, and there's no secret to what Coach Berkman does," he said. "We've played each other a number of times, and we do a lot of the same things and we have our system the way they have theirs. It's a matter of usually a certain goalie making a few more saves and a couple of players making some plays."