About 30 minutes after the Salisbury men’s lacrosse team lost for only the sixth time in 18 trips to the NCAA Division III tournament final, 8-6 to Wesleyan on May 27, Jim Berkman was neither depressed nor bitter. In fact, the coach called the 2018 season “one of the most enjoyable years I’ve ever had at Salisbury.”
Recently, Berkman elaborated on that statement.
“Losing all the goals that we did and all the stars on offense, to do what we did in 2018, I don’t know of any other coach that wouldn’t have traded for that,” he said. “It was a great season. The kids worked hard. They were all good teammates. No one gave up on each other. They kept pushing. It was just a really fun group to be around the entire season.”
Berkman produced two examples for his sentiment. Senior midfielder Garrett Reynolds finished with 38 goals and five assists, but before the Sea Gulls’ postseason run, Berkman informed the Havre de Grace resident and Archbishop Curley graduate that he was being bumped down to the second line. And junior goalkeeper Anthony Stavrakis made five starts before being replaced by sophomore Brandon Warren.
In both cases, Berkman was swayed by Reynolds’ and Stavrakis’ pledge to assume whatever role would enhance the team’s chances of winning the national championship.
“And that typified the whole season,” Berkman said. “Whatever we asked them to do, it was always about ‘we,’ it was never about ‘I.’ That’s kind of neat to have that kind of experience because in this day and age, there are a lot of I’s and a lot of me’s now. So it was a pretty special season.”
In 30 years at Salisbury, Berkman has developed and nurtured many squads and has enjoyed close relationships with many players. But he acknowledged that the 2018 team may be one of his favorites.
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“I think I have a special fondness for this whole experience and what they did this whole year to prove that they are great Gulls,” he said. “They’re great guys who believe in the program and bleed maroon and gold, and they did great things to represent Sea Gulls lacrosse and the legacy that the Sea Gulls have had over the last 35 years.”