Gulls earn first-round bye in NCAA LAX playoffs

Rhett DePol

Rhett DePol, No. 7, is expected to help lead Salisbury in its playoff run (Salisbury University photo)

Coming off of its 18th Capital Athletic Conference championship on Saturday, May 3, the Salisbury University men’s lacrosse team entered the 2014 NCAA Division III tournament with an automatic bid and earned a first-round bye during the tournament selection show on May 4.

The Sea Gulls hosted a second-round contest on Saturday, May 10th against York College of Pennsylvania at Sea Gull Stadium, after the Spartans advanced past Susquehanna University in a first-round game; the contest would be the second-straight meeting with York, as the Gulls took down the Spartans for the CAC championship win.

Salisbury moved past the Spartans to the NCAA quarterfinals with a 12-6 win, led by its senior attackmen duo of Rhett DePol and Luke Phipps. Both players netted two goals and two assists, to lead the team with four points, each.

Senior midfielder Donovan Lange, who led the team with three goals, led off the scoring in the game, before junior defender Knute Kraus scored the second goal of his career to give SU a 2-0 lead just under six minutes into the game.

DePol’s first put the Gulls ahead, 3-1, heading into the second quarter, but a York comeback cut the lead to one, 6-5, at halftime.

Salisbury dominated from there, opening the second half with two goals in the first five minutes from Phipps and Lange.

Opening strong in the second half was all a part of the plan. “We talked at halftime about how we wanted to win the first five minutes of the third quarter,” said Head Coach Jim Berkman. “We won the first five minutes and scored two right away to get that cushion.”

The defense shut down the Spartan attack, only allowing one goal in the final two quarters, while a four-goal fourth capped the victory for SU.

After the win, Salisbury began to focus on its next opponent, the winner of a game between Denison University and Aurora. “They are two good teams,” Berkman said. “I’ve seen both play in person of the past ten days so we will be well scouted, and we are going to watch them play right now.”

The Big Red defeated Aurora, 11-8, in the second-round contest on Saturday to advance and now travel to Sea Gull Stadium for a 7 p.m., contest.

“They are battle tested,” said Berkman. “They are a worthy opponent and it will be a tough battle.”

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