Salisbury's run to Sunday's 14-10 victory over SUNY-Cortland in the NCAA tournament final at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass., and the program's 10th national championship was fueled by senior midfielder Sam Bradman's six-goal, one-assist display and senior attackman Matt Cannone's two-goal, three-assist effort.
The Sea Gulls' next leading scorer was their fourth attackman. Senior Lantz Carter scored three goals on four shots and added one assist, and each goal came at critical junctures.
His first score with 9:09 left in the first quarter pulled Salisbury out of its first – and last – deficit of the contest and tied the score at 2-2. His second goal gave the team a 7-5 lead with just 1.2 seconds left before halftime. And his final tally was part of the offense's game-clinching 3-0 run in the fourth quarter.
"Any time I get an opportunity, I just try to step up and make a play for my team," said Carter, a Randallstown native and Northwestern graduate. "Whether it's scoring a goal, getting an assist, getting a groundball, I'm a team guy. Whatever my team needed, that's what I tried to provide. Today, it was just goals."
Carter converted two of Cannone's three passes into goals, and Cannone appreciated the effort.
"Lantz Carter had a great day," he said. "He was shooting lights out."
Carter entered the contest ranked seventh on the team in both goals (17) and points (23) and isn't a slouch by any means. But with teammates like Bradman, Cannone and senior attackman Erik Krum, Carter said he understands why opponents might have overlooked him.
"You can only game-plan for so many people, and the top guys have accolades and they deserve it," he said. "They put up multiple goals. I wouldn't say I get overlooked, but I probably get on the second page of the scouting report. Having guys like them makes my job easier. I just step in and make plays."
*Junior Tyler Granelli played a pivotal role in the Sea Gulls' victory, winning 8-of-13 faceoffs in each half en route to a 16-of-26 performance. "Obviously, I try to come out and be perfect every time, and I hold myself responsible for every single faceoff and every groundball out there at the X," said Granelli, who was named Division III's outstanding faceoff specialist earlier in the week. "… Possessions lead to goals, and I think we did great." Granelli earned a small measure of redemption by helping to beat Cortland, the program that cut him after the fall of his sophomore year in 2009. Although coach Steve Beville declined to elaborate on the reasoning behind the decision ("I'm not going into detail on that," he said tersely.), Granelli did his best to downplay any talk about revenge. "It means a little bit more to me than some of the other guys," he conceded. "But it was a long time ago, and I'm just happy to be a part of the Sea Gull nation."
*After Alex Taylor made a career-high 19 saves in Salisbury's 7-2 win against Stevenson in the semifinal round a week ago, maybe the bar was set too high for the sophomore. But that's not the approach the Woodbine native and Glenelg graduate took. "That's the way I'm supposed to play every game," he said. "That's how I hold myself accountable, to play that way every game. It was just one of those games." Taylor, who stopped just one shot in a third quarter in which Cortland scored four times, rebounded with three saves in the fourth quarter en route to eight stops for the game. Afterward, he thanked his teammates on offense for assisting him. "It wasn't my best game," he said. "I wasn't seeing it. My offense took it upon themselves, and they had my back when I needed them. I made a couple saves in the fourth quarter. It was one of those games, I guess."
*The Sea Gulls (23-0) had entered Sunday's final boasting the stingiest defense in the country, but that didn't prevent the Red Dragons (21-1) from more than doubling Salisbury's season average of 4.8 goals with 10. Only Stevenson in an 11-10 loss to the Sea Gulls on April 14 had posted double-digit goals against that defense. Cortland senior attackman Mike Tota said the players rose to the occasion of testing their mettle against Salisbury. "Any time you take the field, you're taking on a challenge we just happened to go against the top-ranked defense as far as goals-against average in the nation," said Tota, who paced the Red Dragons with three goals and one assist. "We felt we had something to prove going into the game. We were obviously unable to come out on top, but we fought hard and made some nice plays. We had some good offense throughout the game. We just weren't able to make enough."
*Cortland's season ended in disappointment, but the team did establish a program record for most wins in a season and the most consecutive victories. The loss to the Sea Gulls did not detract from those accomplishments, Beville said. "I told our guys in the locker room, there is something wrong with you if it doesn't bother you," he said. "It should irritate you and it should bother you that you lost in the championship game. We didn't play as well as we could have, but they put it out there. They played their hearts out, and I thought gave everything they had. They're going to keep their heads high. We're very proud of the team. I know the guys are proud of each other. They're a tight team, and a lot of returning players. We're going to miss our seniors, but we have a lot less seniors than these guys do. I think we look forward to next year and the opportunity to get back here."