Salisbury claims CAC title
Sea Gulls earn automatic berth into the 2011 NCAA tournament
OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- Third-ranked Salisbury captured the 2011 Capital Athletic Conference championship with a 16-14 victory against top-ranked Stevenson on Saturday afternoon at Caves Athletic Complex.
It marks the second time in three years that the Sea Gulls have traveled to Stevenson for the CAC championship and knocked off the top-ranked team in the country for the conference title. Salisbury has now claimed 16 CAC championships; with the victory the maroon and gold earn the conference's automatic berth into the 2011 NCAA tournament.
The Mustangs (16-2) tallied the game's first goal at the 9:23 mark, as Neal Barthelme netted his first goal of the day off an assist from Jimmy Dailey. The Sea Gulls (16-1) tallied the next goal, as attackman Erik Krum put a shot on frame that was saved; the junior scooped up the ground ball and quickly fired it into the net to tie the contest. Following a goal by Stevenson, junior midfielder Sam Bradman unleashed a bounce-shot past the Mustang goalkeeper for his first goal of the contest with 4:58 remaining. Following the goal, Stevenson's Ray Witte won the ensuing face-off, rushed into the offensive zone and fired the ball into the net for the 3-2 lead. Salisbury sophomore midfielder Tyler Granelli responded with a face-off win and passed the ball off to Krum, who scored his second goal of the contest to bring the score to 3-3. Stevenson's offense closed out the quarter with five goals to extend the lead to 8-3, including two each from Barthelme and Dailey.
In the second quarter junior attackman Tony Mendes put a shot on frame which the Mustang goalkeeper saved, but senior midfielder Shawn Zordani picked up the ground ball and fired it into the net to cut the lead to four. Mendes recorded his first goal of the contest shortly thereafter to cut the lead to three, but Stevenson tacked on the next two goals to bring the score to 10-5 in favor of the hosts. Bradman and Zordani added goals to cut the lead, but once again the Mustangs responded with a pair of goals to extend the advantage to five. The Sea Gulls closed out the quarter with a goal from Krum off an assist from sophomore midfielder Ryan Clarke with 2:14 remaining in the half; the Mustangs would take the 12-8 lead into the halftime break.
The third quarter was all Salisbury, as the team held Stevenson scoreless in the quarter with senior goalkeeper Tim Swinburn recording three saves in the quarter. The offense had its finest quarter of the contest, as the team reeled off seven goals, including three from Mendes. The maroon and gold took their first lead of the contest at the 2:07 mark, as junior midfielder Dean Rossi successfully cleared the ball into the offensive zone before dishing it off to Mendes, who cut across the face of the crease and shot it past the Stevenson goalkeeper for the 13-12 lead. Junior attackman Matt Cannone gave the team the 15-12 advantage with a pair of goals in the final minutes of the third quarter.
Stevenson cut the lead to three following a man-up goal by Tony Rossi just 31 seconds in to bring the score to 15-13 in favor of Salisbury. After nearly 10 minutes of scoreless play, Mendes added an insurance goal for the 16-13 score. The Mustangs closed out scoring with a goal by Barthleme with 30 seconds remaining in the contest, but that would be as close as it would get.
Mendes led the way in the contest with a personal-best five goals; the Chapel Hill, N.C., native added an assist for six points, which matched his career high. Krum and Bradman (two assists) each finished with three goals, while Cannone and Zordani each netted a pair of goals.
Swinburn earned his second victory of the 2011 campaign, as he relieved goalkeeper Johnny Rodriguez and played the final 37 minutes of the contest. The Swarthmore, Pa., native turned in a heroic performance with a career-high 12 saves to hand the Gulls the conference championship.
Barthleme (six goals) and Dailey (two goals, four assists) led the way for the Mustangs with six points each. Stevenson goalkeeper Ian Bolland finished with 14 saves in 60 minutes of action.