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Remarkable run comes to an end as No. 4 CNU men's lacrosse falls at No. 2 Salisbury, 12-8, in NCAA semifinals

With the setback, Christopher Newport punctuated the season with a 19-3 record, while Salisbury improved to 22-1 and earned a spot in next week's NCAA Championship.
Credit: CNU Athletics

SALISBURY, Md. — Fighting until the final horn, the fourth-ranked Christopher Newport men's lacrosse team saw its record-setting season come to an end in the NCAA Semifinals as the Captains dropped a hard-fought 12-8 decision to No. 2 Salisbury on Sunday afternoon at Sea Gull Stadium.

After Salisbury secured a five-goal lead early in the fourth quarter, the Captains clawed their way back within two with less than six minutes remaining in regulation. Unfortunately, the Sea Gulls survived the late scare and tossed three goals on the board in the waning moments to steal the victory.

Drew Miller led Christopher Newport with four goals, including two in the final period. Brett Jackson also deposited a pair of strikes, while Andrew Cook chipped in with two points as well.

Along with the offensive standouts, Zac Hanway and Warner Cabaniss added historic performances. Holding up against the high-powered Salisbury attack, Hanway came through with 16 saves, including a series of highlight-reel efforts. With that showcase, he finished his senior campaign with 246 total stops, breaking the single-season school record of 243 set by former All-American Scott McAneney in 2019.

Equally impactful, Cabaniss wrapped up his historic sophomore season with a 15-for-23 showing on faceoffs. The second-year star also nabbed 14 ground balls, which equaled the sixth-highest total in program history and marked the finest effort in the NCAA Tournament.

With the setback, Christopher Newport punctuated the season with a 19-3 record, while Salisbury improved to 22-1 and earned a spot in next week's NCAA Championship.

After the Sea Gulls struck first in the opening period, Christopher Newport fired back. Slipping across midfield, Ryan Young entered the offensive zone. With Salisbury paying little attention to the defenseman, he grabbed a flip from Robby Adams, marched 20 yards up the field, and unloaded a high-to-low laser from long range for the team's first tally.

Just over a minute later, Jackson secured a lead after spinning underneath a defender before lacing a liner from the right side.

Equally effective during the early going, the Captains were tremendous on the defensive side. Burke Widhelm tied up an attacker, dropped him to the turf, and jostled the ball loose. Later, Hanway added a pair of saves in the middle of the period, including a fantastic stop on a fast-break opportunity. Meanwhile, AJ Rosacker intercepted a pass on the interior before Brandon Young stripped a Sea Gull near midfield.

Although Salisbury managed to knot the score in the middle of the period, Christopher Newport had the perfect response. Near the restraining line, Coby Auslander dodged to his left to create a little space. With the defense expecting the senior to take the shot, he opted to drop a dime down low to Miller, who caught the feed and dunked along the right post.

Holding a 3-2 edge entering the second stanza, Christopher Newport continued to stand tall on the defensive end. Ryan Young rode an attacker along the left side of the crease and forced a low-percentage shot, which Hanway plucked. Moments later, the keeper came back with two straight stops to stunt a dangerous surge by the Sea Gulls, including a highlight-reel save on a diving, pointblank rip during a second-chance opportunity.

Still battling during a man-down situation, Campbell Pozin got into the body of a shooter and caused an attempt to sail over the crossbar before Hanway chipped in with a kick save. Minutes later, the senior goalie slammed the door on another fast-break shot before Rosacker came flying in to grab the rebound.

Although Salisbury continued the assault and eventually collected three straight goals to secure a 5-3 edge, the Captains landed the final blow of the period.

With only seconds remaining in the first half, Hanway launched a full-field pass to Alex Brendes, who snagged the ball as Christopher Newport called for a timeout. Executing the perfect play after the break, Cook took possession and drew the attention of the defense at the top of the zone. After cutting back, he flipped a pass to Miller, who snapped off a stinger from the left side just before the horn sounded.

With their lead down to one, Salisbury regrouped in the third period. The hosts strung together two straight goals to steal a 7-4 edge. Looking to push back, Christopher Newport settled in for one of the longest defensive stands of the season.

In the middle of the period, Hanway dropped to his knees to block a bouncer before Ryan Young deflected a pass to slow down the attack. Seconds later, Rosacker and Luke Nardone double-teamed an attacker and forced a bad pass, which Hanway collected in the crease.

Although the Captains failed to clear the zone, the defense continued its stand. Rosacker dislodged a ball behind the crease before Aidan FitzGerald blocked a shot and recovered in time to alter another attempt, which clanked off the pipe.

Continuing to pressure Christopher Newport, Salisbury eventually slipped in its eighth goal before Hanway closed out the quarter in style. Building a blockade between the pipes, he pocketed a worm-burner, stonewalled a sneaky, no-look shovel shot, and secured a last second bouncer to keep the deficit at four entering the final period.

Keeping the momentum early in the fourth frame, Salisbury stretched its advantage to 9-4. After orchestrating a five-goal comeback during an overtime thriller against No. 6 Dickinson in the NCAA Quarterfinals on Saturday, Christopher Newport quickly regrouped and pieced together a response.

First, pushing back on the defensive end, Hanway brushed aside another on-target tracer before Ryan Cammarata snatched the rebound and bolted up the field on a successful clear.

After settling in, the offense went right to work. Taking advantage of a penalty on the Sea Gulls, Miller flicked the ball over the crease to Jackson, who whistled a one-timer into the top left corner of the cage for his school-record 13th man-up goal of the year.

Minutes later, Christopher Newport inched closer after capitalizing on another hustle play. After a ball was knocked free and sent spinning towards midfield, Will Mercado raced to snag the roller before it dribbled over the line. Facing a wall of Sea Gulls and another defender in hot pursuit, the senior made a diving stop to prevent an over-and-back turnover. While still sprawled out on the turf, he bounced a pass to Brendes, who continued the possession.

Capitalizing just 20 seconds later, Miller barreled through a pair of defenders before rifling a rocket under the crossbar for his third goal of the contest.

Still trailing by three, Christopher Newport continued its resurgence. On the defensive side, the man-down unit killed off a penalty in the middle of the period. Mason Beckmeyer pressured an attacker and used a stick-lift to force an errant pass, which Brandon Young picked off on the right side of the field.

Following the defensive stand, Cook found himself isolated in a one-on-one showdown. Taking advantage of the situation, he spun around his defender and dropped a hammer along the left post before a second Sea Gull could close out.

After cutting their deficit down to two at 9-7, the Captains had an opportunity to inch closer. Unfortunately, Salisbury held up on the defensive end. On-target blasts by Cook and Mercado were brushed aside, while Miller and Jackson both had shots blocked by the defense.

Meanwhile, on the other end, Salisbury gained some breathing room. With Christopher Newport using Hanway to double-team attackers in the hopes of forcing a turnover, the hosts notched three late goals to secure a comfortable lead.

Refusing to go down quietly, Cabaniss won another faceoff with a quick clamp before pushing forward with 90 seconds left in the period. Keeping Salisbury on its heels, he dished a pass to Miller, who buried a shot from the left side. Unfortunately, that was the final tally of the game as the Sea Gulls held on for the 12-8 victory.

Overall, Salisbury had a 46-36 advantage in shots, while Christopher Newport posted a 34-31 edge in ground balls. Along with Cabaniss' 14 rollers, Rosacker secured three to go along with two takeaways. Brandon Young also caused a pair of turnovers and picked up two ground balls.

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