SALISBURY -- To the surprise of few, yesterday's War on the Shore was a bore.
Top-ranked Salisbury State faced visiting, struggling Eastern Shore rival Washington College, and the Sea Gulls doused Washington's chances quickly with a six-goal spurt to open the game, then rolled to a 21-8 victory before 1,989 at Sea Gull Stadium.
"When you look at what was in front of us, we were totally outmanned," said first-year coach John Haus, whose Shoremen (3-8) are going through their first rebuilding season since the early 1980s. "We don't have the personnel right now, nor do we have the numbers."
The Sea Gulls (11-0), who won their 27th straight game dating to 1993 and recorded their 48th straight regular-season victory, showed they have numbers to burn. Senior attackman Sean Radebaugh, the team's second-leading scorer, missed the game with a broken hand. Radebaugh will not play for at least another two weeks, but his absence made little difference yesterday.
Eleven Salisbury State players scored, and for a change, Jason Coffman wasn't the center of attention. But Coffman, the reigning Division III Player of the Year and the team's leading scorer for the past two years, did flash his sometimes overlooked passing skills by attacking the Shoremen's zone defense deftly with seven assists, his single-game high on the season.
Midfielder Jake Bergey led the Sea Gulls with four goals, followed by Coffman's three. Five other Sea Gulls scored two goals apiece.
How good are the Sea Gulls? For the eighth time this spring, they broke the 20-goal mark. For the 10th time, they held an opponent to single digits. Yesterday, they rolled to a 12-3 halftime lead by bombarding Washington goalies Andy Taibl and Jon Lundberg with 43 shots, and by not committing a penalty before the break.
How good are the Sea Gulls? They talked in tones of
disappointment after playing a bit flat-footed down the stretch. Washington showed signs of life midway through the second half, cutting Salisbury State's lead to 17-7 with 9:41 left in the game.
"We should have put the ball in the net more than we did today," Coffman said. "I play off the crowd a lot. When they start making noise, and you know they want you to score, you want to make something happen. I pushed things a few times when I shouldn't have."
The Sea Gulls asserted their ability and depth early, although they had trouble finishing on offense. Salisbury State took 23 shots in the first quarter, when five players scored to make it 6-0 with 2:01 left in the period. The Shoremen enjoyed an offensive flurry in the second quarter, cutting the gap to 8-3 with 6:28 to go on Mike McDermott's fast-break goal, but the Sea Gulls closed the half with four unanswered goals.
"We didn't pass and catch that well today. We didn't make that extra click at times," Salisbury State coach Jim Berkman said. "We get ahead of teams early, then play down to them. We're trying to get them to realize you have to play for 60 minutes. You have to play against the game, even when you're way ahead."