DIII Championship; Wesleyan Defeats Salisbury to Claim First Ever National Title

Photo Credit: Casey Vock

The Wesleyan Cardinals came into this game as the underdog, even after taking down undefeated top seed RIT last weekend. The Cardinals have won their conference and made it to the NCAA tournament many times in the past, but one goal remained unsatisfied until today. That goal of winning a national championship. Before accomplishing that goal the Cardinals would have to go though a tough Salisbury team. Unlike Wesleyan, Salisbury has been to numerous national championships and they have twelve, including the past two seasons. What Coach Berkman had built over at Salisbury has stood the test of time as they seem to always be in the conversation every year. That is just how dominate of a program Salisbury has been for most of last three decades. 

Wesleyan got off to a hot start that really set up the Cardinals for the rest of the game. Taylor Ghesquiere, Christian Barker, Harry Stanton, and Carter Hawthorne would get Wesleyan off to a hot 4-0 start. Salisbury would have to take a timeout at the 7:09 mark to be able to regroup and refocus. The ball would go up and down the field multiple times as each team was successfully clearing the ball and taking shots, but none would go in. Salisbury would draw final blood in the first as Zach pompea got the Seagulls on the board, and that would the first quarter with Wesleyan. 

Salisbury used that momentum coming out of the first quarter as a catalyst for a little offensive run that they would be able to put together. A pair of Corey Gwin goals would give the Seagulls some momentum with a 2-0 run. The play would be pretty slow as each teams took turns returning shots and playing some good defense. Harry Stanton would get his second goal on the day to give Wesleyan a 5-3 lead with 3 minutes in the 2nd. Salisbury would have opportunities to trim the lead before the half, but they could just never convert as Wesleyan lead 5-3 at the half.

The third quarter would be pretty slow to begin with, until Salisbury's Josh Melton would make it a one goal 5-4 Wesleyan lead with 10:12 in the third. Unfortunately, that would be the last goal Salisbury would have in the third. Wesleyan just took over the game after that. Tylor Ghesquiere, Corey Aviles, and Carter Hawthorne would help push Wesleyan into a bigger lead with a three goal run to end the third quarter. Salisbury was again stifled by that Wesleyan defense that created turnovers that turned into opportunities for the Cardinals. I really feel this is where we really saw more energy from Wesleyan and it felt like it could have been over right there.

The fourth quarter would be pretty slow as Salisbury would be the only team to score. Griffin Moroney and Zach Pompea would be the only two scorers in the final fifteen minutes of play. The defensive play actually quite good late in the game as each team was trying to limit the other from getting too hot and running away with the game. This made for some fun transition play that created some unsettled situations.

Wesleyan went through a gauntlet all season long in the NESCAC and then in the NCAA tournament. They were able to conquered each road as well as learned from mistakes on the way. The Cardinals prevailed and they beat one of the greatest dynasties in not only DIII, but in college lacrosse. This was a great way for the season to end for Wesleyan, especially after all the adversity from a teammate losing his father to losing to Tufts twice before finally beating them in the tournament. It was a great season for Wesleyan and what a better way to end it than getting your programs first ever NCAA Championship.