With a 15-7 victory over the Rochester Institute of Technology on May 29, Salisbury captured its second straight NCAA Division III championship and 12th overall. The program has won all 12 since 1994 — a span of 24 years — and is 12-5 in title-game appearances.
It is an incredible run of success that has been an encouraging development for Sea Gulls coach Jim Berkman and his coaches.
"The thing about us is we've been consistent, and not just for a short period of time," he said. "We're talking about a long, long time. The legacy and consistency with different guys, different faces, different assistant coaches contributing to allow us to be competitive on a day-to-day basis, I'm very proud of all that we've done in that regard. That's definitely a neat thing to say, 'Hey, the Gulls don't rebuild, they reload,' and we've consistently done that for a long period of time. I'm very proud of them and that consistent effort that we've been able to produce over a long period of time."
Salisbury is now one NCAA title away from tying Hobart's Division III record of 13 in 14 years from 1980 to 1993. That mark was once considered unreachable, but Berkman said no one associated with the Sea Gulls is even discussing matching the Statemen's achievement.
"I don't think anybody's really talked about that one at this point," he said. "Maybe people on the outside are a little bit more worried about those types of things, but we'll be working real hard to have another opportunity to hopefully get the 13th one."
Matching Hobart might be more difficult next spring as the team graduated six starters, two of three second-line midfielders, one long-stick midfielder and one faceoff specialist. Those losses might have persuaded US Lacrosse Magazine to rank Salisbury at No. 2 in its early 2018 rankings behind No. 1 Wesleyan.
That move invited an unusual comedic perspective from Berkman.
"Well, you guys have got to have something to write about, right?" he said. "Traditionally, it's been pretty easy for you guys to say whoever won one year, we'll put them at No. 1 for next year. Obviously, we have a lot of holes to fill at attack and a couple in the midfield, but we do return in theory maybe the best defensive team in the country, and we do have some pretty good scorers coming back. Do we have some holes to fill? Absolutely. But hopefully just like in years past when we've had a big graduation on the offensive end, the defense has been able to give the offense some time to develop so that we didn't have to score a lot of goals and we could win some of those 9-8, 10-9 games because our defense wasn't going to give up a lot of goals. I think we'll be in that position again hopefully."