A scary thing happened yesterday to a strong Salisbury State lacrosse team that has won 112 games and two NCAA Division III national championships in the past eight seasons.
The Sea Gulls suddenly forgot how to catch the ball for 20 mystifying minutes against 11th-ranked Denison College.
The team's struggles started late in the third quarter when Salisbury held a 9-4 lead and ended when senior attackman Scott Walstrum and senior midfielder Mike Faith hooked up on a perfectly executed scoring play with 20 seconds left in overtime for a 10-9 victory over Denison in the second game of a doubleheader at Loyola's Curley Field.
Salisbury (13-1) has won eight straight and has wrapped up one of four first-round byes in the 12-team NCAA Division III tournament, which begins Wednesday.
Faith, a transfer from Essex Community College, not only made a lightning-quick move on the right side of the net and fed a wide-open Walstrum on the crease for the game-winning goal, but the 6-foot-1 midfielder invited the entire Salisbury State team back to his Perry Hall home for a party.
Talk about a hero for the day.
When the winning play began to develop, Faith said he had an idea that Walstrum was going to be open on the crease.
"It wasn't definite that I was going to Scott on the play, but I always can sense where he's going to be," said Faith, who had three goals and three assists yesterday.Walstrum scored three goals and had two assists.
Salisbury coach Jim Berkman said he hopes his players learned a valuable lesson from the game.
"It's nice to win when you don't play well. We just forgot how to catch the ball and we were shooting the ball high, right into their goalie's stick [Justin Smith had 20 saves]," Berkman said. "Now we should come to the realization we're vulnerable."
Salisbury goalkeeper Jason Tarnow found himself under siege in the fourth quarter against an inspired Denison team that fell behind early and scored five straight goals to force the overtime.
"I'd be lying if I said I wasn't nervous during the closing minutes," said Tarnow, who managed to make 17 saves. "I think our team got caught up in the emotion of the game and Denison had the speed and ability to get back in it."
Steve Hettrich led the Big Red (7-5) with three goals in an attempt to keep his team in the Division III playoff picture.
"We've had four tough losses now," said Hettrich. "Losing to No. 1 Ohio Wesleyan by one goal and now Salisbury by one and twice to Washington College by a total of four. I think we deserve to make the playoffs."
Pub Date: 5/03/98