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posted 04.18.2011 at 5.02 p.m. by Jac Coyne

The Inevitability of Salisbury-Stevenson II

The first rule of coaching is taking each game one at a time, which precludes coaches from looking past their next opponent. Stevenson's Paul Cantabene and Salisbury's Jim Berkman are well-schooled in this coaching manifesto, that's why they give a brief nod to their CAC semifinal opponent before talking about a potential rematch on Saturday.

"The guys know that we're probably going to see each other again if we win on Wednesday," said Cantabene. "I think we did a good job of letting them know we're ready to play and they did a good job of letting us know they aren't going anywhere. They want it as much as we do."

"We've got a couple of things we've got to work on for the week to give us -- if we take care of business on Wednesday -- a better shot on Saturday," added Berkman.

There's nothing much other than habit, and perhaps a desire to look respectful toward their conference colleagues, for the two coaches to even acknowledge Wednesday's opponent. The closest game in the CAC for Stevenson (other than Salisbury) was a 12-goal win over Frostburg, and the Mustangs beat semifinal foe St. Mary's, 17-4, last week. Salisbury's seven-goal win over Frostburg was the narrowest margin (besides Stevenson), and the Gulls clobbered Mary Washington, who they'll see Wednesday, 18-2, in March.

It's no fun for the rest of the CAC, but the second Gull-Mustang clash will happen. What is fun for us is it will be better than the first.

There won't be the same build-up to the game -- essentially the entire regular season pointed at that contest three days ago -- and as such, there shouldn't be any of the chippiness and sloppiness we saw during the first installment.

"I think both teams made some passes they normally wouldn't make and made some hits they normally wouldn't make," said Cantabene. "There were some things that were uncharacteristic of some players. That's just part of the rivalry and how it has built up. Guys want to make plays because of the build up, so they get emotional at times. The coaches get a little emotional and the officials, it's a big game so they're getting emotional. Everybody's emotions get turned up just that a little bit more and it's really tough to control sometimes."

"I would say in the past the first game has always been the most chippy," said Berkman.

There should be more of a businesslike approach to this CAC championship game. Not only because the top seed in the South is on the line, but there won't be any of the emotional triggers such as "Lax for Leukemia" (that raised $14,000, by the way) or Senior Day to ratchet up the angst.

What we saw this past Saturday was the warm-up show. This Saturday will be the marquee match-up.