OWINGS MILLS, Md. – The No. 12 Salisbury University men’s lacrosse team’s title defense came to an end on Sunday night at Mustang Stadium, as the Sea Gulls fell to No. 4 Stevenson University, 12-6, in an NCAA Division III semifinal game; this marked the fourth-straight semifinal appearance for the Gulls, but the first loss in the round since 1998 and the first time failing to make the national championship since 2009.
Stevenson jumped out to an early lead on the Sea Gulls, starting the game with a three-goal run. Less than two minutes into the game, at the 13:27 mark, Mark Pannenton scored for the Mustangs to begin the run. Pannenton blocked a pass by junior goalkeeper Alex Taylor and retrieved the ground ball for a one-on-one chance.
Freshman attackman Brady Dashiell, Salisbury’s leader with three goals, stopped the run with the Sea Gulls’ first goal to cut the lead; junior attackman Rhett DePol passed across the crease to an open Dashiell, who put the ball home in the right side of the cage. Dashiell and DePol both tallied four points to lead the Gulls, as DePol registered a team-high three assists.
The quarter ended with two goals from the Mustangs, as Salisbury entered the second quarter trailing, 5-1.
The Gulls took little time getting onto the scoreboard in the second, scoring two goals in the first two minutes of the period.
At the 14:05 mark, Dashiell had the ball near the right sideline, before dodging his defender, running to the crease and beating the Mustang’s keeper for his second goal. He then assisted DePol just 64 seconds later, passing the ball to DePol, who faked the goalie on the crease and scored low to cut the lead to 5-3.
After getting within two, the Sea Gulls gave up a four-goal run to the Mustangs to end the half. Chris Dashiell scored three during the run for Stevenson, and Salisbury entered halftime trailing, 9-3.
At the half, Salisbury was trailing in shots, 22-16, and faceoffs won, 2-of-6, but the Sea Gulls were successful on 5-of-7 clears.
Both teams scored only one goal in the third quarter, with Tyler Smith ripping a shot from 15 yards for the Sea Gulls, and the score entering the fourth quarter was 10-4.
While holding the Mustangs to the single score, the Gulls were unable to jump at the chance to gain some ground. “We did create some opportunities during that run,” Head Coach Jim Berkman said. “We just weren’t able to capitalize.”
To start the final quarter, Stevenson’s Tyler Reid scored at the 13:05 mark to increase the Mustang’s lead to 11-4, but two goals from the Sea Gulls cut the lead to five with just over six minutes remaining.
Brady Dashiell completed his hat trick by taking a pass from DePol and netting a shot from the right wing.
Smith tallied his second on a man-up chance; he took a pass from junior midfielder Greg Korvin and whizzed a low shot from 20 yards past the keeper.
The Mustangs scored again late to cap the game.
Taylor played all 60 minutes for the Gulls in the cage and made nine saves in the effort.
Despite the 2013 season coming to an end, the Sea Gulls were a young team this season that now has good experience moving forward. “There are some young guys that definitely got their feet wet and hopefully got some great experience,” Berkman said. “It will really pay dividends in the future.”