When senior midfielder Ryan Clarke was lost for the remainder of the season because of a ruptured spleen during a 7-5 win against Widener on Feb. 23, the thought was that Salisbury’s already-beleaguered offense was in more trouble.
But the absence of Clarke – who was on the Tewaaraton Award watch list last month – has spurred the development of his teammates and spread the wealth around the Sea Gulls (9-2), who have moved up to No. 7 in the latest United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association poll.
Since a 16-3 thrashing of McDaniel on Feb. 27 – the team’s first contest without Clarke – sophomore attackman Wade Korvin has recorded 11 goals on 27 shots and four assists. Senior midfielder Eric Kluge has posted 12 goals and one assist, junior attackman Rhett DePol has compiled six goals and eight assists, and junior midfielder Greg Korvin has accrued six goals and six assists.
In the last three games, senior attackman Stephen Norris has registered seven goals and one assist, and junior midfielder Tyler Smith has accumulated five goals and one assist.
“Right now, a lot of different guys are doing a lot of different things,” coach Jim Berkman said Wednesday morning. “Tyler Smith has really helped out a lot. He’s finally overcome a couple of injuries, and he gives another big-time middie to go with Eric Kluge. It’s also been good to see Stephen Norris settle in as a crease attackman in the past few games with the goals and production that we were kind of counting on earlier that he didn’t get. The offense is kind of by committee.”
Since a 1-2 start, Salisbury has strung together eight straight victories – seven without Clarke. The team’s average margin of victory during that run is 6.4 goals, but Berkman said the difference could have been larger if the offense had converted more of its opportunities.
“I think the offense still feels a little bit of the burden because even though we’ve gone on a really nice run, the scores are not nearly indicative of the goals that should have been scored,” he said. “Roanoke only had 27 shots the whole game. We had 45 shots, and we only beat Ohio Wesleyan, 4-3. Against Frostburg State, we won 15 out of 16 faceoffs and just totally dominated the statistics. In those games, we missed numerous opportunities, and those games shouldn’t have been that close. So they still feel the burden that we’re not putting the ball in the net during unsettled situations like we should. Against Frostburg on Saturday in an 11-2 game, we had five 4-on-3 fastbreaks that we didn’t score on. Is our offense where we need it to be? No. But is it better? Absolutely.”Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times