D3 Top 20 Countdown: Salisbury, Cortland

Over the next few weeks, we will be previewing the Top 20 teams in Division III according to Inside Lacrosse’s Face-Off Yearbook rankings. Two teams will be featured each day so be sure to check out the front page for all of the updates as we countdown to the 2014 season. Click here to see a full archive of the Top 20 Countdown.

No. 4 Salisbury

Photo via SUSeagulls.com

2013 Record: 17-6, 6-0 Capital
Last Game: NCAA Semifinals, L 12-6 vs. Stevenson
Scoring Average: 12.26 goals per game, 5.92 goals against
Leading Returning Scorer: Rhett DePol, Sr. – 20 goals, 37 assists, 57 points

For me, Salisbury is to Division III lacrosse what the Chicago Bulls and Green Bay Packers were to their respective sports. I began paying attention to D3 lacrosse just in time for Salisbury to appear at every Championship Weekend I attended until 2013. After a year away, the Sea Gulls might be back in that final game. Top scorer Eric Kluge is gone, but every other player who was responsible for at least 30 points is back. Rhett DePol was second with 57 points and the next three – Brady Dasheill (29 goals, 8 assists), Wade Corvin (28, 8) and Tyler Smith (28, 7) – all scored at least 28 goals. Suffice to say, there is plenty of firepower on this team. Alex Taylor is back in net after posting a ridiculous 5.79 GAA in 2013.

On the schedule for Salisbury is a veritable who’s who of teams in Division III. Lynchburg, Gettysburg, Ohio Wesleyan, Washington CollegeCabrini and Stevenson highlight the non-conference games while St. Mary’s waits in Capital play.

No. 3 Cortland

Photo via Cortland.edu

2013 Record: 19-1, 6-0 SUNYAC
Last Game: NCAA Semifinals, L 10-9 (OT) vs. RIT
Scoring Average: 12.29 goals per game, 5.97 goals against
Leading Returning Scorer: Zach Hopps, So. – 28 goals, 40 assists, 68 points

If Salisbury was the Bulls, then Cortland was definitely the Jazz. The Red Dragons were the other mainstay of my trips to the NCAA Finals, winning it in 2009. After going 19-1 last year and missing out on another title shot on one of the most diabolical hidden ball tricks everCortland is back for blood. This team has everyone back. Every player who totaled more than 10 points is back –  Brandon Mulholland and his nine points represent the greatest offensive departure – including 50+ point scorers Zach Hopps, Joe Slavik (33, 26) and Cody Consul (28, 26). The loss of Mike Kaminski in goal is devastating, but senior Steve Mahle represented himself nicely in eight appearances last year. posting a 5.87 GAA and 65.1 save percentage in 153 minutes of action.

Returning to the cusp of the national championship is not this team’s goal, and the schedule they have lined up reflects that. Union, Stevens, RIT, Lynchburg and Stevenson litter the non-conference schedule. Cortland is looking to make a statement and by that March 22 date with the defending national champions, we will know what that statement is.