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Salisbury men's lacrosse relying on all six offensive starters to lead nation in assists

No. 2 Salisbury's prowess at putting the ball in the cage has been aided by the offense's gift of passing.

The Sea Gulls (9-0) have scored 14.7 goals a game because, in part, they lead Division III in total assists with 86 and rank 11th in assists per game at 9.6. Coach Jim Berkman said the key has been the development of all six starters on offense, especially in the midfield.

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"I think we've got an extraordinary group of kids that play in the midfield and pass the ball well and play like attackmen and are pretty unselfish," he said Thursday morning. "They dodge pretty well with their heads up, and they carry the ball. They don't panic under pressure when a long-pole is on them. So it's almost like there are six attackmen out there that can really control the ball against anybody who's on them, and they're really looking for each other."

Senior midfielder Thomas Cirillo leads the team in assists with 19, senior midfielder James Burton is not far behind with 16, and junior attackman Nathan Blondino has 12.

The other three starters – junior attackmen Carson Kalama and Brady Dashiell and junior midfielder Brendan Bromwell – have no fewer than seven assists each, and that distribution makes it difficult for opposing defenses to center on one player as the primary playmaker.

"You've got to pick and choose your poison a little bit," Berkman said. "What are you going to take away and when you do that, what are you going to give up? If you want to put a lot of attention on Tommy Cirillo, you're going to leave an extra step or two for Brendan Bromwell running down the alley and ripping a shot at 90 miles per hour. It's a good unit that really complements each other."

Berkman said the coaching staff is working to groom more feeders like sophomore midfielder Garrett Reynolds, who has notched 10 goals and one assist.

"Garrett is kind of out of the same mold as Tommy was," Berkman said. "He's a sophomore, he's on the second midfield, and he's got a cannon of a shot like Tommy. Tommy was a shooter. So I said, 'Now what is Tommy? Is Tommy just a shooter now? No, he's a player.' He can feed the ball, he's multidimensional, and we're trying to get Garrett to become more of that kind of guy, to become a complete player who can take what the defense gives him and has the eyes and the stick skills and the ability to feed the ball."

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