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Lacrosse roundup (May 21): Garbarino leads Salisbury back to DIII men's final

Nick Garbarino looks as if he could play offensive guard for the Salisbury football team. The 5-foot-9, 220-pound attackman is built like a Mack Truck and is just as powerful.

For the Salisbury men's lacrosse team, Garbarino is adept at creating space on the crease for himself. The senior from Binghamton, N.Y., possesses superb hand-eye coordination and the stick skills to catch and finish in traffic.

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The burly junior college transfer is a big reason the Sea Gulls will be seeking their 12th national championship next Sunday.

Garbarino scored five goals as top-seeded Salisbury defeated No. 3 Denison, 12-11, on Sunday before an announced 1,286 at Sea Gull Stadium. Sophomore midfielder Corey Gwin scored two goals, including the eventual game-winner, as the Sea Gulls survived a late rally by the Big Red.

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"Nick's a great finisher. He has great hands. He's got an uncanny right hand that all of a sudden becomes a left hand as he shoots it, which is very uncharacteristic of any player I've ever coached," Salisbury coach Jim Berkman said. "He just knows how to put the ball in the back of the net. People have been able to create space to give him opportunities and there is nobody better to be at the end of those opportunities."

Garbarino has 24 points in four playoff games this month. The transfer from Onondaga Community College in Syracuse, N.Y., has a team-high 67 goals this season.

"I guess I use my big frame to the best of my ability. I've always been a big guy, so through the years I've learned how to play with a big frame," said Garbarino, who was an offensive lineman at Binghamton High. "I've learned how to get in tight to the goal and create space with my body."

Senior attackman Nathan Blondino and junior midfielder Garrett Reynolds both had a goal and an assist for Salisbury (21-1), which will play Rochester Institute of Technology in the Division III final at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass. The Sea Gulls are the defending national champions.

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"It feels great to return to the championship game, which is always a very difficult thing to do. Hats off to our seniors for providing tremendous leadership to get us to this point," Berkman said.

Senior attackman Will Donohue scored five goals to lead Denison (18-2), which is 0-for-3 in national semifinals. Senior attackman Liam Rooney had a goal and three assists for the Big Red, who outscored the Sea Gulls 5-2 in the fourth quarter.

Garbarino had a hat trick by halftime to help Salisbury take a 7-4 lead. He scored off a short crank shot, finished a fast break from the doorstep and somehow converted from the crease with two defenders hanging all over him after handling a tough inside feed from Reynolds.

"The catch and the goal that he had off the pass from Garrett Reynolds was truly unbelievable. The guy was draped all over him," Berkman said. "Nick somehow caught the ball, then he took the ball and the player to the goal and stuck it."

Gwin also scored in the second quarter as the Sea Gulls used a 4-0 run to build a 7-3 lead. Rooney scored with 17 seconds left in the first half to end a drought of almost 18 minutes for the Big Red.

Denison's defense somehow lost Garbarino and he was wide-open on the crease and converted a one-on-one shot against the goalie, capping a 3-0 run that gave Salisbury a 10-5 lead with 4:48 left in the third period.

Denison wasn't done yet, with Donahue sparking a 4-1 run to get the visitors back into the game. Donahue scored the last goal of the third quarter and added three more in the fourth when the Big Red took advantage of six turnovers by the Sea Gulls.

Gwin scored off a wraparound move with 8:19 to go and that goal held up – barely. Donahue scored his final goal off a crank shot from the left wing while Hannibal George shot into an empty net after picking off a lazy clearing pass by goalie Colin Reymann at midfield.

Those two goals made it 12-11 with 2:50 left, but Denison never even got off a shot attempt to tie the game. Salisbury turned the ball over on a shot clock violation with 47 seconds left and Denison called timeout after the ball was cleared.

Caravana put the ball in the stick of Rooney for the restart and he dodged down the right alley from just outside the restraining line. Salisbury senior defenseman Aaron Leeds read the play and picked off the pass to preserve the victory.

Salisbury played without top defenseman Will Nowesnick, a second-team All-American last season. Freshman Drew Borkowicz (Calvert Hall) started on close defense and filled in admirably for Nowesnick.

"Salisbury has always been about the next man up and we had no doubt that Drew was capable of executing the game plan. He did a great job out there today," Leeds said.

Berkman said Salisbury has never played RIT in the playoffs and the two schools have not met in the regular season since the 1990s.

"I think their top five scorers are all Canadian kids. They play the pick-and-roll game, so we'll have to handle that a little better than we did today. They 10-man ride so we'll have to clear the ball," Berkman said. "I've seen them play a number of times. I'm no stranger to how they play."

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State women

Gettysburg 10, Salisbury 2: Katie Landry scored four goals to lead the host Bullets (19-3) over the Sea Gulls (16-6) in an NCAA Division III regional final.

Dana King and Allison Hynson (Mount de Sales) scored for Salisbury, which was outshot 19-11.

Nation women

No. 4 seed Penn State 14, No. 5 seed Princeton 12: Freshman Maria Auth (North Harford) scored a career-high four goals, including the tying goal with 5:20 left in regulation, to help lift the host Nittany Lions (17-3) over the Tigers (15-4) in an NCAA Division I quarterfinal.

Madison Carter (South River) added three goals for Penn State, which will make its second straight national semifinal appearance, taking on No. 1 seed Maryland on Friday at 5 p.m. at Gillette Stadium. In the teams' previous meeting this season, the Terps won, 16-14, in University Park, Pa., behind four goals by Kali Hartshorn.

Ellie DeGarmo (Bryn Mawr) made a game-high 16 saves for Princeton.

Baltimore Sun staff contributed to this article.

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