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Salisbury men's lacrosse develops first 40-assist player since 2012 in James Burton

As if Salisbury's opponents don't have enough to worry about with senior midfielder Thomas Cirillo, there's another threat in the Sea Gulls midfield.

James Burton leads top-ranked Salisbury (18-0) in assists with 42. The senior, who also has added 19 goals, is the program's first player with 40 assists or more since attackman Matt Cannone registered 67 in 2012.

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Coach Jim Berkman pointed out that Burton was a starting midfielder last season who played on the team's man-up offense.

"So it's not like he's a secret," Berkman said Monday. "He's a fifth-year senior, so he's been around the block. He's always had really good eyes, and his eyes have gotten better. He's gotten a lot better at carrying the ball against a pole, too. So he kind of plays like an attackman. And he does just a really good job of keeping his head up and with his ability to generate a slide and put the ball in people's sticks."

Burton finished last spring with 29 goals and 19 assists. Berkman said one of the differences for Burton has been playing with an all-junior attack of Nathan Blondino (42 goals and 33 assists), Carson Kalama (47G, 16A) and Brady Dashiell (29G, 18A).

"I think our attack is a whole lot better this season than it was last year," Berkman said. "There was a lot of uncertainty throughout the year last year. We started with Mike Kane playing in the feeder spot and he was a crease guy. We moved Kyle Goss from third midfield down to attack because there was no lefty, and he wasn't really an attackman. There were a couple guys down there that weren't as talented as Blondino and Carson Kalama and Brady. … There are three guys down there that are pretty good and are obviously enhancing JB's ability to have a few more stats."

Berkman said another factor in Burton's development has been partnering him with Cirillo (49G, 26A) and junior Brendan Bromwell (21G, 11A) in the first midfield.

"It has a nice mix," Berkman said. "[Burton] is a kid who distributes but can finish. You've got a big right-handed shooter [in Cirillo] and then a big left-handed shooter in Brendan Bromwell. So it's kind of a good mixture on that line. Those three, they just have a real good feel for each other. Tommy knows to get to a spot when JB is going because he will get him the ball. That's something you really can't coach, that sixth sense that comes from playing with a guy for a couple years and knowing where he goes and what he does. That thing is something you can't put a price tag on."

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