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Attackman Nathan Blondino returning to form for Salisbury men's lacrosse

That Nathan Blondino has recorded 15 goals and 10 assists in his last seven starts is not shocking to Salisbury coach Jim Berkman because that's the player he saw this past fall.

About six months ago, Berkman saw Blondino blowing past defenders like they were statues, and he got excited about what the sophomore attackman could do in his first year as a starter paired with senior Mike Kane and sophomore Carson Kalama (Bel Air).

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But then Blondino underwent double sports hernia surgery in January and was forced to miss the Sea Gulls' first eight games of the season.

"When he came back, those first three or four weeks, he wasn't even remotely close to where he was," Berkman recalled Wednesday. "But each day as we've gone forward, you can see him doing more and more in each practice. He's still not where he was in the fall as far as his speed, but his lax IQ and the shooting ability that he brings to the table is tremendous, and the connection that he has with Kalama on the crease and Make Kane playing the left spot is just getting better every day. You see Nathan running a little bit faster every day."

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Berkman said Blondino, who posted two goals and one assist in his first three contests back from the operation, reminds him of Tony Mendes, who registered 81 goals and 39 assists in two seasons.

"He brings a dodging presence to the attack position that we haven't had in a while," Berkman said. "The kid can flat-out beat a defenseman right or left from behind. That puts a lot of pressure on a defense because in this day and age, that doesn't happen anymore. Besides that, he's a really good feeder. So that starts to open things up for our midfield because now you can't just slide all the time from the midfield. He's the missing piece in a complete offense."

Blondino's improving health has benefited Kalama and Kane. Kalama has compiled 25 goals and seven assists in his last seven starts as a crease attackman, and Kane has accrued 13 goals and seven assists over the same span.

"It lets Carson flourish in his normal position," Berkman said. "Carson had played on the wing a little bit, we were bouncing Kane around, trying to figure it out. We put [senior midfielder] Kyle Goss down there, and he had never played attack. It was a crapshoot for the first eight weeks of the season to find out who was who and who was playing well. The last six or seven games, we've kind of settled into who should be where and because they're getting more familiar with each other in their spots, we're playing better."

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