Hello, old friend.
That may as well be the greeting Salisbury has when York visits Sea Gull Stadium in Salisbury at noon Saturday in a NCAA tournament second-round game. The contest will be the third meeting this season between Capital Athletic Conference rivals.
"There's good and bad," Sea Gulls coach Jim Berkman said Thursday morning. "I guess you could say that we definitely know their tendencies. And they know ours, so that's probably not so good. It's tough to play anybody three times in any sport and especially in our game when the reality is, the game is meant to be played one time a year and two at the most. It's just tough to play somebody three times. But we are at home, and yesterday doesn't matter. We know it's all about Saturday at 12 noon. That's what the reality is. That's our approach. For all the things we've worked for, it doesn't matter that we beat them twice. We've got to beat them a third time."
Salisbury (18-1), the top seed in the South Region, defeated the Spartans (15-4) 11-8 on March 22 and 12-4 in Saturday's league tournament final. Facing an opponent three times in a single season is not new to the Seal Gulls. They met former conference foe Stevenson three times in 2009, 2010 and 2012; they won all three meetings only in 2012.
"It's hard," Berkman said of beating an opponent three times. "If it's 1-1, it's not the same as 2-0. That's a little change, too, in maybe the energy that you bring to a game. Our focus is on the energy and the moment because we have beaten them twice. We've got to have that same energy because if you don't get it done on Saturday, you're going home. Obviously, when you've beaten a team one time and then a second time, it's just human nature for anybody to think, 'Well, maybe they're a little better than they really are.'"
Since both teams clashed just five days ago and York got past Susquehanna, 8-3, on Wednesday, the Spartans would not have had much time to make any drastic changes to their offensive and defensive sets.
But Berkman said Salisbury has to brace for the possibility of a new wrinkle on Saturday.
"Their approach and the way they play the game could be different," he said. "Whether they play faster or they play slower or they play zone or they play man, they could change their approach to maybe change the deck of cards to try to win the game. We obviously have got to be ready for some of those things. We did see some zone from them the other day that we didn't see in the first game, and I thought we did a pretty good job against it. Obviously, we've got to be thinking about that a little bit as we go into the game."