In four seasons at Salisbury, midfielder Thomas Cirillo has recorded 120 points, 78 of which have been goals. But the 6-foot, 185-pound senior is beginning to develop into a playmaker.
Through the No. 2 Sea Gulls' 3-0 start, Cirillo leads the team in assists with nine and points with 16. Cirillo, who posted a career-high 20 helpers last spring en route to being named a first-team All American, is on pace to finish the regular season with 51 assists.
Coach Jim Berkman said Cirillo's emergence can be linked to a rigorous offseason plan to shed some weight.
"Tommy's always been a great shooter, but Tommy's a little bit lighter this year," Berkman said. "He's always been a 190-, 195-[pound] guy, and he's lost some of that weight. So he's a 183, 184 guy. Not that he's a speed demon by any means, but I think he's a half-step quicker and better at changing direction a little bit than he was a year ago because he knew this was his last go-around and being a little lighter might really help his speed and his ability to play more minutes in a game."
Cirillo was named the Capital Athletic Conference's Offensive Player of the Week on Tuesday after registering four goals and two assists in Wednesday's 14-11 upset of then-No. 2 Lynchburg and then adding two goals and six assists in Saturday's 23-7 pasting of then-No. 20 Montclair State.
Berkman said Cirillo, who recorded three goals and two assists in a second half in which Salisbury outscored Lynchburg 9-4, took advantage of the Hornets' initial defensive plan to assign a short-stick midfielder to him.
"It was hot and cold," Berkman said. "At first, they were leaving him on an island and he was blowing past his guy. Then they started sliding to him and that opened up opportunities for his teammates."
Berkman said the win against Lynchburg was one of Cirillo's best performances.
"He's had some pretty good games, but I think Tommy took over that game a little bit," he said. "He got to the goal against a defense that was really geared to stop him. He got down the alley a couple times. He came down once and went back to the middle with his left hand and stuck one. He had some big-time goals when we really needed them."