NEWPORT NEWS, Va. — Three captains recorded multi-goal efforts, while Warner Cabaniss played the lead in the face-offs, but Christopher Newport’s top-ranked men’s lacrosse team lost a bitter decision contested 15-10 against No. 3 Salisbury during the Coast to Coast Athletic Conference Championship on a cloudy Saturday afternoon at Jennings Family Stadium.
In a battle between two of the country’s top teams, Andrew Cook scored four points for the hosts, while Dylan Rice and Coby Auslander also added a pair of goals. Meanwhile, Cabaniss was a midfield machine. The freshman phenom won 18 of his 27 faceoff attempts. He also had 13 ground balls, which tied the third-highest total in program history and scored the most in the playoffs. .
On the defensive end, Max Wayne and Burke Widhelm both had three takeaways, while Ryan Young added a pair. Zac Hanway also contributed 11 saves during his time between pipes.
With the backhand, Christopher Newport drops to 16-1. The win takes Salisbury to 18-1.
At the start, Christopher Newport got off to a good start. Just over a minute into regulation, Drew Miller connected with Auslander, who cut around the right post and slid a dart just inside the pipe for the game’s first goal.
Unfortunately, Salisbury fought back with three straight goals to steal a 3-1 lead midway through the period.
Needing an answer, the captains mobilized on both sides. First, on the defensive end, David Gonzalez grounded the man-down unit and locked an attacker inside, which led to an errant pass. Later on the other side, Rice scored his first goal after switching hands, diving under a defender and using a shovel shot to slide a dart around the keeper.
Once again Salisbury responded with two straight goals to take a 5-2 lead before Christopher Newport found his rhythm.
Headlining the team’s response, Cook assisted Rice’s second consecutive tally before burying a ball under the crossbar for his own goal. Later, Will Stockhausen fired a rocket down the left side of the field before Cook found Auslander for the team’s next goal, which tied the score at 6-6 entering the second stanza.
Still rolling in the second quarter, Robby Adams found the back of the cage and gave Christopher Newport his first lead since the opening minutes of the game. Shortly after, Campbell Pozin burst onto the field on a successful clearance to kill another man-down situation. Taking advantage of possession, Cook showed off some sophisticated footwork as he danced along the crease before landing his second strike, which gave the hosts an 8-6 advantage.
Trading blows, Salisbury hit back with two straight goals before the captains added the final nail in the first half. Catching the attention of two defenders while rolling behind the crease, Alex Brendes made space for Brady Altobello on the right side of the area. Eventually, the sophomore star ceded possession to his teammate as the senior All-American stung the back pot and gave Christopher Newport a 9-8 halftime lead.
After the break, the defense took over. Hanway made two quick saves, while the back line blocked an early shot to keep the Sea Gulls off the board. Unfortunately, the visitors continued to press on and scored twice in just over a minute of action to regain a 10-9 lead.
Needing to regain some momentum, Hanway pulled off a remarkable save in a man-down situation after dropping to his knees to swallow a low liner on a close range tear. Later, after the visitors regained possession, Wayne took it with a nice strip in the final minute to keep the deficit at one early in the fourth quarter.
Continuing to shine at the back, Christopher Newport suppressed early in the final stanza. After Wayne interrupted an early Sea Gulls push, Salisbury returned to the area minutes later but were turned away for a long possession. Headlining the defensive showcase, Wayne tied up an attacker on an early run before Aidan Wheeler pushed another player up the area to prevent a trip on target. Later, Young dropped the ball and won a run for the roll before shoveling it to Pozin, who burned through midfield to punctuate the defensive position.
Unfortunately, Salisbury fought back. Midway through the period, the team scored four consecutive goals on the board to steal a 14-9 lead with less than five minutes left in regulation time. Later, the Sea Gulls put in another tally in the final minute before Miller added a final goal for the captains to wrap up the scoring.
Overall, Salisbury held a 42-30 advantage in shooting, while Christopher Newport led the way in ground balls, 36-31. In addition to Cabaniss’ 13 rolls, Widhelm picked up four, while Hanway added three.
With lecture season in the books, Christopher Newport will now set his sights on the national stage. The NCAA tournament draw will be announced during a selection show on NCAA.com at 9 p.m. Sunday night.