During Salisbury’s pregame pep talk, Head Coach Ron Lachance had one message for his 9th-ranked Seagulls as they prepared to face the Towson Tigers; they were no longer the team that went 1-5 last season, nor were they the team that Towson had thumped 6-3 to kick off a most forgettable 2017 campaign.
For Lachance and the Gulls, this was a new year and a new team.
And for the first 30 minutes of play, the 4-0 Seagulls drove their head coach’s message into the ground, and the 6th-ranked Tigers with it.
Despite a myriad of sloppy passes and bad stick work, Salisbury managed to build an early 5-0 lead, thanks to strong dodging from the Seagull shortsticks. Pat Garvey and Chase Kipke each scored 2 goals for the visiting Gulls, while Dash Ferguson, Brett Spake and Jason French added a goal each.
At the other end of the field, the Tigers had no answers for Seagulls netminder Sam Ash, who looked extremely comfortable between the pipes and was making even the most difficult saves look routine. Ash snatched long range shots out of the air with ease and left nothing for Towson shooters to aim for in close.
Salisbury’s lead increased to 7-1 midway into the 3rd quarter before the Tigers finally found their stride and a few chinks in Ash’s impenetrable armor.
The Tigers ended the 3rd quarter with 3 consecutive goals, including 2 of the extra-man variety. Towson was getting most of the 2nd half calls as the chippiness began to intensify and momentum began to swing the Tigers way.
Zack Hansell and Peter Jarosiewicz accounted for 4 of the Tigers goals as Towson climbed back to within 2 goals at 7-5. Towson defensemen Clark Wyatt scored off a fast break before Scott Mackrell found the net off a dodge from behind the cage to tie the game at 7.
But an unsportsmanlike conduct call on the Tigers with just 2 minutes to play brought a screeching halt to the Tiger’s momentum. Bryce Garretson found the back of the Tiger net to give Salisbury the lead for the first time since midway through the 3rd quarter at 8-7. Garretson used a nice screen to put a bounce shot on an unsuspecting Matt Patraglia, who had been a brick wall for the entire fourth quarter.
The Tigers won the ensuing face-off but lost possession, only to see the Seagulls commit a foul with :30 seconds remaining to give Towson a final shot at tying the match. But the Towson extra-man unit, which had been so potent during the second half, mishandled a routine pass and the ball sailed out of bounds. The Gulls succesfully killed the remaining seconds of regulation and escaped with a one goal victory.