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Salisbury men's lacrosse is near the top of Division III ranks at causing turnovers

Salisbury's defense ranks 14th in Division III after allowing just 6.5 goals per game, and one reason has been the team's ability to cause turnovers.

The No. 1 Sea Gulls (13-0 overall and 5-0 in the Capital Athletic Conference) have forced an average of 13.1 turnovers, which is the sixth-highest rate in the country. Although he was unaware of the national ranking, coach Jim Berkman knew the team was generating its fair share of takeaways.

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"I just think it's the way we play," he said Tuesday morning. "You're going to touch your opponent, you're not going to let him bring his stick in front of his face, you're going to impose your will, you're going to extend a little bit farther out on defense here maybe than other teams."

Salisbury helps add to opponents' ball protection issues by pressuring them on defense with three starting defensemen and one of two long-stick midfielders who are 6 feet in height or taller and use their length to clog passing lanes and check opponents.

"I think it wears them down a little bit because they've got to work for what they get," Berkman said. "They've always got a stick in their gloves, and if they're a little bit lazy or a little bit hesitant and they go to make a pass and they don't execute the right play and they throw the ball away or throw it into the ground, we're pretty athletic on the defensive end to win a lot of those ground ball battles."

Junior long-stick midfielder Andrew Ternahan, who leads the defense in caused turnovers with 25, heads a trio with at least 20 takeaways. And three more players have registered 10 or more caused turnovers including sophomore long-stick midfielder Pax Howard with 15.

The Sea Gulls' next four opponents in No. 20 Christopher Newport (10-2, 4-0), Frostburg State (11-2, 2-2), No. 4 York (11-1, 4-0) and No. 14 Cabrini (7-3) are among the best at retaining the ball. But Berkman said the defense will continue to play its aggressive style.

"I don't think we're going to approach the way we play defense any different," he said. "We're going to look at the opponent and see – based on personnel – what the best matchups are for us based on our strengths and weaknesses. We're going to get after them, and we're going to guard them when they get off the bus."

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