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#1 CNU lax suffers 1st loss to #3 Salisbury in CCAC Championship 15-10

In a battle between two of the top teams in the country, Andrew Cook had four points for the hosts, while Dylan Rice and Coby Auslander also added a pair of goal.

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. — Three Captains registered multi-goal efforts, while Warner Cabaniss starred on faceoffs, but the top-ranked Christopher Newport men's lacrosse team dropped a hard-fought 15-10 decision to 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 top teams in the country, Andrew Cook notched four points for the hosts, while Dylan Rice and Coby Auslander also added a pair of goals. Meanwhile, Cabaniss was a machine at midfield. The freshman phenom won 18 of his 27 faceoff attempts. He also collected 13 ground balls, which equaled the third-highest total in program history and marked the most in a postseason tilt.

On the defensive end, Max Wayne and Burke Widhelm both came through with three takeaways, while Ryan Young added a pair. Zac Hanway also contributed 11 saves during his time between the pipes.

With the setback, Christopher Newport falls to 16-1. The victory bumps Salisbury to 18-1.

At the outset, Christopher Newport got off to a solid start. Just over a minute into regulation, Drew Miller connected with Auslander, who cut around the right post and slipped a dart just inside the pipe for the game's first goal.

Unfortunately, Salisbury shot back with three straight tallies to steal a 3-1 lead midway through the period.

Needing a response, the Captains stepped up on both sides. First, on the defensive end, David Gonzalez anchored the man-down unit and locked up an attacker on the interior, which led to an errant pass. Later, on the other side, Rice came through with his first goal after switching hands, dipping under a defender, and using a shovel shot to slip a dart around the keeper.

Once again, Salisbury answered with two straight goals to gain a 5-2 lead before Christopher Newport found its rhythm.

Headlining the squad's response, Cook assisted on Rice's second straight tally before burying a bullet under the crossbar for a goal of his own. Later, Will Stockhausen unleashed a rocket on the run up the left side of the field before Cook found Auslander for the team's next goal, which knotted 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 its first lead since the opening minutes of the game. Shortly thereafter, Campbell Pozin burst up the field on a successful clear to kill off another man-down situation. Taking advantage of the possession, Cook showed off some fancy footwork while dancing along the crease before landing his second strike, which gave the hosts an 8-6 edge.

Trading blows, Salisbury fired back with two straight goals before the Captains added the final nail of the first half. Drawing the attention of two defenders during a roll behind the crease, Alex Brendes freed up some space for Brady Altobello on the right side of the zone. Eventually, the second-year star handed possession over to his teammate as the senior All-American stung the back pipe and gave Christopher Newport a 9-8 lead entering halftime.

Following 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 apply pressure and sank a pair of goals in just over a minute of action to regain a 10-9 lead.

Needing to steal back some momentum, Hanway made a remarkable save during a man-down situation after dropping to his knees to swallow a low liner off a pointblank rip. Later, after the visitors regained possession, Wayne took it right back with a beautiful strip in the final minute to keep the deficit at one entering the fourth quarter.

Continuing to shine on the back end, Christopher Newport clamped down early in the final stanza. After Wayne broke up an initial surge by the Sea Gulls, Salisbury returned to the zone a few minutes later but were turned away during a lengthy possession. Headlining the defensive showcase, Wayne tied up an attacker on an early run before Aidan Wheeler shoved another player around the top of the zone to prevent an on-target trip. Later, Young punched the ball loose and won a race for the roller before shoveling it to Pozin, who burned across midfield to punctuate the defensive stand.

Sadly, Salisbury fought back. During the middle of the period, the squad tossed four straight goals on the board to steal a 14-9 lead with less than five minutes remaining in regulation. Later, the Sea Gulls tacked on another tally in the final minute before Miller added one last goal for the Captains to wrap up the scoring.

Overall, Salisbury held a 42-30 advantage in shots, while Christopher Newport led the way in ground balls, 36-31. Along with Cabaniss' 13 rollers, Widhelm collected four, while Hanway added three.

With the conference season in the books, Christopher Newport will now set its sights on the national stage. The bracket for the NCAA Tournament will be announced during a selection show on NCAA.com at 9 p.m. on Sunday evening.