GETTYSBURG, Pa. – The No. 7 Salisbury University men's lacrosse team traveled to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania to take on an old but familiar foe Gettysburg College in the NCAA Division III Men's Lacrosse National Semifinal on Sunday afternoon. The Sea Gulls used a final defensive stand led by sophomore goalie Brandon Warren to hold off the Bullets for an 8-7 victory following Emory Wongus' winning goal with four minutes remaining in the game.
Warren tallied eight saves in the contest but none no more important than the last one when he denied the game-tying attempt on the doorstep with less than 20 seconds left to play. His save sealed the win and sent the Sea Gulls back to Foxborough, Massachusetts to compete in the program's 18th national championship game next Sunday.
The game opened as a back-and-forth battle as each team traded goals in the opening two minutes of the contest. After Gettysburg (19-3) got on the board 58 seconds into the game, Salisbury (20-3) responded with a goal of its own to level the score. Wongus got the ball on the right side of the cage and fed a perfect pass across the mouth of the crease to an open Garrett Reynolds, who fired a one timer into the back of the net for the game-tying goal.
The game settled in to a defensive battle from there as each team forced the other into four turnovers while the maroon and gold caused three. The Bullets were able to take the lead heading into the second frame netting the go-ahead goal at the 5:40 mark of the first quarter.
Gettysburg pushed its lead to two early in the second quarter but the lead did not last long as both Jeremiah LaClair and Griffin Moroney each netted markers, less than two minutes apart for the maroon and gold, to level the score at 3-3.
However, that was all the scoring for the first half as the defenses stood tall once again holding each offense scoreless for the final eight minutes of the opening half. The teams headed into the locker rooms deadlocked at 3-3.
Moroney continued his strong playoff performance netting his second marker of the afternoon to answer Gettysburg's early third quarter tally. Moroney finished off the Reynolds offering to bring the score back to even at 4-4 with just over eight minutes left to play.
After the Bullets took the lead once again, the Sea Gulls fired right back to tie the game for the fourth time in the contest. Pierre Armstrong fed a pass across the crease but Gettysburg goalie Tim Brady, who finished the game with eight saves, managed to get his stick on the ball and disrupt the pass knocking it into the air, right into the path of Josh Melton, who knocked it out of the air and into the back of the net to level the score at 5-5.
Gettysburg managed to take a 6-5 lead into the final 15 minutes but Salisbury wouldn't go away quietly as Moroney continued his solid afternoon pumping in his third tally of the game. Moroney split the defense on the far side to finish off the Zach Pompea assist right in front of the net to bring the score line level once again at 6-6 with 14 minutes left to play in the fourth quarter.
Pompea continued his impressive fourth quarter giving the Sea Gulls their first lead of the afternoon at the 9:38 mark of the final frame. Pompea went straight down the right side getting past his man to finish off the unassisted effort to make it 7-6. However, the lead didn't last long as the Bullets came right back exactly one minute later to bring the score to even for the sixth time in the contest.
After having not tallied a point since the 13:01 mark of the first quarter Wongus fired a bullet past Brady to give the Sea Gulls the lead, 8-7, with 4:15 seconds left to play in the contest.
The defense stood tall in the final two minutes as Gettysburg had three looks to tie the game each being denied as Warren made the game-clinching save to send the Gulls back to the national title game. Overall, the defense forced Gettysburg into 11 turnovers while causing six. Kyle Tucker led the way with a team-best four caused turnovers and another team-high four groundballs.
Salisbury will take on Wesleyan (Conn.) University on Sunday, May 27 in Foxborough, Massachusetts at Gillette Stadium in the NCAA Division III Men's Lacrosse National Championship. The game is slated to begin at 1 p.m.