Cabrini trailed the No. 1 men's lacrosse team in the nation 9-6 with 12 minutes to play, but the Cavaliers were not to be denied. After 62 minutes of back and forth action between two of the nation's top 15 teams, freshman Jake Klein made one of the biggest plays in program history.
The rookie turned the corner behind the goal and slid a shot past the Salisbury goaltender, sending the Blue and White streaming onto the field.
Klein's goal gave the No. 14 Cavaliers an 11-10 win over the No. 1 Salisbury University Sea Gulls tonight at Edith Robb Dixon Field. The Blue and White's fourth consecutive victory improved the club to 9-3 overall.
The win also marked Cabrini's first all-time win over the perennial NCAA champion and snapped the Sea Gulls' 20 game win streak.
Sophomore Jordan Krug led the Cavaliers with a game high six points, pairing four goals and two assists. Klein and junior Zach Gregory added four points each, as Klein paired two goals and two helpers, while Gregory scored three goals, including the one that sparked Cabrini's comeback.
Freshman goaltender Matt Nestler was huge for the Blue and White. The rookie notched 13 saves, including game-saving stops at the end of regulation and overtime, to go with a team high seven ground balls.
Krug added six ground balls, while junior Riley Michaels, who went 7-11 at the faceoff spot, secured four loose balls. Freshman Tommy DeLuca anchored the defense with four of the Cavaliers' 10 caused turnovers.
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Cabrini athletics file photo
The capacity crowd at Edith Robb Dixon Field knew they were in for a low scoring fight, as the high scoring teams combined for just one goal in the opening 15 minutes.
Salisbury opened the scoring with 3:38 left in the opening stanza. The Cavaliers responded in the final minute of the period, as Krug and sophomore Sean Wagner marked the scoring column to give the Blue and White a 2-1 lead.
The lead was short lived, as Salisbury senior Nick Garbarino scored the first of his three goals to even the score. The senior's goal sparked the Sea Gulls to five consecutive goals and a game-high 6-2 lead with less than five minutes left in the half.
The Blue and White immediately cut into its deficit, as Krug hit Klein for a man-up goal at the 4:14 mark. Sophomore Timmy Brooks found Krug for his second goal of the day to pull Cabrini within 6-4 at the half.
The Sea Gulls regained their three goal cushion early in the third, but an unforced turnover led directly to another Krug goal. Just 40 seconds later, Gregory caused a Salisbury turnover, scooped the loose ball and converted it into a goal, cutting the deficit to 7-6 with 9:12 left in the quarter.
Despite both teams securing man-up opportunities in the quarter, both defenses stood firm, as the game went to the final quarter with the Cavaliers down just one goal.
Salisbury immediately regained the momentum in the first two minutes of the final period, scoring two goals in a 32 second span to regain its three goal cushion.
At the 5:48 mark and with two penalty flags already on the ground, freshman Mike Gerzabek hit Gregory for a goal. As the junior fired the shot, he became the victim of a cross check to the head, sending another flag into the air.
A slash penalty and a three minute unreleasable cross check penalty gave the Cavaliers the opening they needed.
With a two-man advantage, Gregory completed his hat trick 20 seconds later. One minute later, Gregory found Krug to even the score at 9-9, the game's first tie since 2-2.
With more time remaining on the three minute penalty, the Blue and White took the lead at with 3:54 to play, as Gerzabek scooped the rebound from a save into the goal.
The Cavaliers had the best team in the country on the ropes on its home turf and just four minutes from the upset, but a Cabrini penalty gave the Sea Gulls another late chance. Cabrini turned away three Salisbury shots and a Sea Gulls' turnover gave the Cavaliers the ball with 56 seconds to play.
As had been the case all day, the Cavaliers had trouble with the clear chance, as Salisbury forced a turnover that resulted in the game-tying goal with 35 seconds to play.
The Sea Gulls won the ensuing faceoff, as recorded two shots in the final 25 seconds, including one with forced Nestler's 11th save with just :02 on the clock to send the game to overtime.
Salisbury won the opening faceoff of the extra period and immediately called a timeout. The Sea Gulls set up a play they hoped would end the game, but again Nestler came up big, as the freshman stopped senior Brendan Bromwell's attempt and secured the ground ball.
Following a Cabrini timeout and in no particular hurry, the Cavaliers worked the ball around its zone. Brooks found his way into the middle but his shot went wide. Klein brought ball into play and looked for a crease.
Running back and forth behind the goal, the rookie got a step on his defender as he turned the corner and beat Sea Gulls' senior goaltender Colin Reymann for the game-winner.
Among the keys to today's victory was the Blue and White defensive effort. Cabrini held the nation's number four ranked scoring offense to just 10 goals, seven below its season average. The Cavaliers also held the nation's number five man-up offense to just 1-6 in man-up chances.
Garbarino and fellow senior Nathan Blondino led the Sea Gulls (15-1) with three goals each, while senior Carson Kalama and junior Kyle Tucker combined for 10 ground balls and six caused turnovers. Reymann recorded 11 saves in the loss.