Nine unanswered goals brought #2-seeded Salisbury back from an early 4-1 deficit on Monday night at Catholic University in Washington, DC, and carried the Knights to a 12-6 semi-final win over #3-seeded Bullis School of Potomac, Maryland. The win propels the Knights into the GEICO National Lacrosse Championship Game on Tuesday night against #4-seeded Hill Academy of Ontario, Canada, 11-6 winners over #1-seeded Culver Academy (Culver, Indiana) in Monday’s other semi-final game.
Salisbury had advanced to the semis after beating St. Stephen’s and St. Agnes School (Alexandria, Virginia), 12-5, in the opening round. Hill’s first-round victim was St. Sebastian’s School (Needham, Massachusetts) by a 16-8 count.
Key to the Knights’ Memorial Day win was the face-off prowess of Joe Neuman. Neuman won an uncanny 17 of 19 face-offs to provide the potent Salisbury attack with all the opportunities it needed to come from behind – and then some. For his efforts, Neuman was named GEICO MVP of the Game.
The Championship Game will pit Salisbury coach Bobby Wynne, a prep star at Kent School and two-time All-American on two Division III National Champions at Hobart College, against Hill coach Brodie Merrill, who starred at Salisbury prior to the Wynne era and who went on to a storied career at both the collegiate level, where he was a two-time All-American at Georgetown as well as the 2005 NCAA Defensive Player of the Year, and the professional level, where he was a perennial Major League Lacrosse all-star and won Defensive Player of the Year honors for six straight seasons.
Hill Academy was founded in 2006 by Merrill’s father, Peter Merrill, with an expressed mission of providing “a distinctive learning platform for academic excellence, high-performance athletics, and personal growth” – ideals that similarly suffuse the lives of student-athletes here on the Hilltop. Hill is the defending GEICO National Lacrosse Champion, having dominated Georgetown Prep, 12-6, in last year’s Championship Game. Salisbury’s appearance in this year’s tournament is the first in program history.
The National Championship Game will air at 7:00 Tuesday night on ESPNU.
- Procter Smith