Salisbury has not missed an NCAA tournament since 1988, capturing the championship 10 times – including in each of the last two seasons. With a 14-4 record and the No. 4 ranking in the South region, the program is in solid position to extend its consecutive streak to 25 appearances.
But that is not how coach Jim Berkman feels. He said the team is determined to defeat St. Mary’s (11-6) in the Capital Athletic Conference tournament final at Sea Gull Stadium on Sunday and seize the automatic qualifier to the NCAA tournament.
“There’s a sense of urgency because we don’t want to leave anything to fate here on Sunday,” Berkman said Friday morning. “We want to finish Sunday. Our NCAA tournament started Saturday, and we approached it that way. We knew we didn’t want to leave it to chance if we didn’t finish this conference championship because the parity in Division III lacrosse, they’re going to be splitting hairs when it comes to those five at-large bids on Sunday night, and I wouldn’t want to be the hair that got split the wrong way because we didn’t have an automatic bid. So I think our team has sensed that since last week, this is our tournament right now, and we need to take care of business.”
No. 2 Dickinson (16-0), No. 7 Roanoke (14-3) and No. 4 Stevenson (16-2) rank 1-2-3 in the regional rankings, and No. 13 Lynchburg (13-4), No. 10 Washington (12-4) and No. 12 Washington and Lee (14-3) trail the No. 8 Sea Gulls. Berkman said winning on Sunday is critical because Salisbury cannot afford to be saddled with five losses.
“Even though we do have five wins [against regionally-ranked opponents], that’s going to be splitting hairs Sunday night, and there are going to be some real disappointed coaches,” he said. “You don’t want to be in that position.”