As the north enjoyed a wintry stretch of weather in the teens, and practices were littered with frozen white powder, the south got a chance to see the first big time matchup of the season as #3 Lynchburg made the trek to #5 Salisbury to take on Coach Berkman’s Gulls. It was an epic early season game, and made for a great preview of what’s to come in the D3 world this season!
The game started fast as the Hornets got up early on a pair of goals scored by the reigning ODAC player of the year, Austin Stewart. It does’t look like he skipped a beat. Kid is a beast. After dropping 104 goals last year, which was the most of all time at any division, his stick seemed to be dialed in to start the 2016 season. Lynchburg would go up 3-0 before SU could answer.
The Gulls rallied though ultimately trailing at the half 7-5 even though they were up in almost every statistical category, and we had a wonderful, back-and-forth contest on our hands. Just what everyone wanted…
Sometimes that’s just the way the cookie crumbles! Lynchburgs’ goalie, Chris Hawley, was credited with 10 saves through the first half, and was a big reason why the Hornets had the advantage as the teams headed for the locker rooms. Stewart also had a RIDICULOUS goal where he caught a cross-field bounce pass, evaded his man with a spin, and swung around to score from 14 yards out. Stud.
The third quarter was similar to the first two. The Gulls chipped away early, but Lynchburg scored four of the next five make their lead three going into the final stanza. Enter, Carson Kalama, nicknamed the Dhali Llama by yours truly. Behind a hat trick from Kalama’s flame throwing stick, the Gulls tied the game up at 11 early in the fourth quarter, and they wouldn’t look back once they scored their dozenth one. From there Salisbury netted the next two en route to a big 14-11 win.
It’s an upset because #5 beat #2, but someone had to win, and someone had to lose! What a game.
What We Learned – Salisbury
Salisbury is off to a hot start and clearly showing that they deserved their high preseason ranking that some people may have doubted. Like I mentioned in my preseason D3 preview/poll, Salisbury is going to bounce back and in a big way! After a year in which most players and followers probably thought was an outlier, this shows just that. Salisbury is back among the big boys, and at this point they deserve it.
I understand it’s a small sample size, but at this point no team in D3 has a win of this quality. It’s nice seeing contributions from nine players in the goal column as well.Am I going to say the South runs through Salisbury, MD… maybe, just maybe! There are plenty of big games left on their schedule, and that starts this weekend as they have a tough Montclair State team coming into town from Jersey.
What We Learned – Lynchburg
This is hardly the last time we will hear about the Hornets this year either. They are a very strong team that will bounce back, but they will need to do it rather quickly as they arguably face four Top 20 teams (Cabrini,Gettysburg, RIT, and Endicott) in the next few weeks. At quick glance, it looks like the the Hornets need to get scoring from some other players.
The team goes as Stewart goes, but having only four players score is not ideal. In addition, I put Lynchburg at #2 in the recap partly due to their strong goalie play from last season. Hawley got off to a great start against the Gulls, but only one save in the second half? Goaltending will be a focus this week as they prepare for F&M.
NCAA D3 – Looking Forward!
This is just the first of many big D3 games this year! As teams get their season going over the next week I will be back with more updates and recaps. Here’s to hoping the teams in upstate New York don’t get another two feet of snow like they did Tuesday so they can get out on the turf, and out of the gymnasiums.
I’ll be back with more Top 20 polls, big game reports, and random fun stories from the world of D3 men’s lacrosse!