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Salisbury men's lacrosse missing out on extra-man opportunities

A year ago, Salisbury opened the campaign with two losses in its first three games. The team has already guaranteed that won’t happen this season after winning its first two contests, but one familiar refrain continues to dog the team in 2014.

The Sea Gulls – ranked fifth in the most recent United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association poll – have converted just 14.3 percent (2-of-14) of their extra-man opportunities thus far. That success rate is already lower than last year’s 19.6 percentage (20-of-102), which was the program’s lowest in at least seven seasons.

The inability to take advantage of man-up situations has not hurt Salisbury yet, but coach Jim Berkman knows that the team is flirting with disaster.

“We’ll obviously be working on our man up a lot during the course of this week,” he said Monday. “In the future, we definitely want to be better than 20 percent, that’s for sure.”

After going 1-of-9 (11.1 percent) in a 14-3 rout of Greensboro on Feb. 9, the offense went 1-of-5 (20.0 percent) in a 12-11 overtime decision against No. 11 Lynchburg on Saturday. Berkman, who studied each extra-man opportunity, said the Sea Gulls had their chances.

“We had one man-up goal, we had a one-on-one that we dropped, we had a one-on-one where we missed the ball, we had a man-up where [senior attackman] Luke [Phipps] had his hands free and he had an eight-yard shot and just missed the goal,” he said. “So it wasn’t like we weren’t getting what we wanted. We just didn’t finish them and hopefully, that will take its course.”

Salisbury will play its first road game of the season this Saturday when it travels to Chester, Pa., to tangle with Widener, which opens its season later Tuesday at Neumann.

One area that Berkman is anxious to see improvement in is turnovers. The Sea Gulls have committed 47 giveaways in two contests, and Berkman said that must change.

“I want to see fewer turnovers,” he said. “We turned the ball over several times in the game [against Lynchburg] just passing the ball to the next guy five or six times, and we turned the ball over after clearing the ball a couple times and guys weren’t ready for a guy coming up on them. We’ve got to get shots on those possessions. We can’t win consistently getting 24 turnovers in a game.”

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