With 37 seconds expired in overtime, senior midfielder Thomas Cirillo sent the No. 3 Salisbury University men’s lacrosse team to the NCAA semifinals as he scored the sudden-victory goal over Denison University to secure an 11-10 victory on Wednesday night at Sea Gull Stadium.
Salisbury had a balanced attack all day as it got two-goal performances from Cirillo, Carson Kalama, Garrett Reynolds, and James Burton, while Nathan Blondino, Christian Ottenritter, and Brendan Bromwell added solo tallies in the victory.
Denison got on the board first as it got an Owen Armstrong goal five minutes into the first quarter, before Reynolds answered less than a minute later for Salisbury as he got under his defender while on the high wing with a face dodge before burying it low.
In a 40-second stretch, starting at 5:19 left in the first, both teams would add a goal, capped by a beautiful Bromwell marker. Bromwell dodged down the right alley before stopping on a dime to switch to his left hand on a roll and going low-to-high with a shot; sneaking the ball into the top right corner.
The Big Red opened up the second with two goals to bring about a two-goal lead, which would stand as their biggest lead all game in the back-and-forth affair.
Down two at the half, Salisbury came out of the locker room on a mission, scoring three times in the first six and a half minutes of the third quarter. The third goal of the stretch came as Burton dodged down the right alley and ripped a pass across the offensive zone to Cirillo.
Over the last two games, Cirillo had scored just one point, despite averaging 3.85 points-per-game in the previous 20 games; yet the senior took the skip pass from Burton and scorched one to the top shelf.
Denison went on two two-goal runs sandwiched between a Kalama goal, to tie the score up, 10-10.
Down 10-9 going into the final 30 seconds of regulation, the Big Red tied it up with a Blair Farinholt goal to send the game into the extra period, as he scored with 24 seconds to go.
Overtime started with a T.J. Logue faceoff win and the Gulls went to work right away. Bromwell moved the ball to Cirillo who was top middle of the offensive set and gave his defender a studder step that made him bite before Cirillo took a step to the side to get his hands free and ripped the top corner from 13 yards to seal the win.
The overtime goal is Cirillo’s second of the season as he got the Gulls’ 13th goal in a 13-12 victory of Ohio Wesleyan University earlier in the season.
One of the keys to Salisbury’s victory was Logue, who in addition to winning the faceoff in overtime, won 15 of his 20 faceoffs on the night (.750 percent).
Colin Reymann got the win in net for Salisbury as he stopped nine shots, while Chris Thomas suffered the loss despite stopping 13 shots in the game.
Salisbury now advances to the NCAA Division III men’s lacrosse semifinal round where it will take on Gettysburg College on Sunday, at a place and time to be determined. The Gulls took down the Bullets, 10-7, earlier this season.