SALISBURY -- The Washington College men's lacrosse team has struggled this season against Division III opponents, but when the seventh-ranked Shoremen visited Eastern Shore rival and defending national champion Salisbury State yesterday, a whole new team stepped up.
Washington College scored 11 seconds into the game to set the tone en route to its shocking, 15-10 victory before 1,807. Sophomore midfielder Craig Rentch (Annapolis) scored a career-high eight goals and added three assists to help end the Sea Gulls' 24-game winning streak.
"We really haven't beaten anybody, so coming in against the No. 1 team, we were looking to beat them. We knew we had a chance. It's the 'War on the Shore.' It's anybody's game," said Washington College sophomore goalkeeper Ray Pagano (11 saves).
The youthful Shoremen (10-3) came out determined to defeat the top-ranked Sea Gulls (15-1) in front of their home crowd, in part as a payback for last season's 16-15 overtime loss to Salisbury at home, and to help secure a postseason bid.
"We just knew we had to come in and win. We had to win this game to get into the playoffs," Rentch said. "We had to show everybody how good we are and that we can beat the best team in the nation."
"This game is going to be wild every year. We are very concerned about the first 10 minutes of the game," Washington coach J. B. Clarke said.
Salisbury was looking for its sixth undefeated regular season and for its 10th straight regular-season victory over the Shoremen in the 30th meeting between the two teams.
"The story of the day was when there was a pile of people, the ball bounced out and went into their sticks. Our hats are off to them. They played well. They were the better team today," Salisbury State coach Jim Berkman said.
Washington got the best of the Sea Gulls, who played without their field general and last season's Division III Midfielder of the Year, Chris Turner (Arundel). Turner was serving a one-game suspension for disciplinary reasons.
The loss of Turner on one of the best midfield units in the nation hurt the Sea Gulls' high-powered offense.
"Not having Turner hurt us, but like Coach told us, we definitely have the talent to beat any team out there. It's just a matter of putting it all together," Salisbury State attackman Joe High said.
Washington played a perfect game. The Shoremen's presence at the offensive end wore down Salisbury's defense - which surrendered four extra-man goals, two in the first seven minutes of the game.
The Shoremen went into the second quarter up 5-3, only to increase that margin to three on Nick Nylund's goal off a feed from Rentch. Two back-to-back goals by Craig Rhodey (Calvert Hall) and senior scoring leader High (Dulaney) pulled the Sea Gulls within one.
Rentch would score four of the next six goals to send Washington into halftime up 10-7. The Shoremen continued their dominance in the second half as the Sea Gulls could only pull to 10-8 before the Shoremen ran away with the game.