Last year, it was for the seniors. This year, they were the seniors — and this one was for them.
After helping lead the Salisbury University men’s lacrosse team to a national championship as a junior in 2016 — and helping the team’s senior class avoid becoming the first SU group not to earn a ring since 1993 — Bethany Beach native and Stephen Decatur High School graduate Andrew Ternahan finished out his own career with the Seagulls last Sunday, May 28, with a second straight NCAA Division III title.
“It’s probably the best way that I could have ever pictured going out,” said Ternahan. “After winning it for [the seniors] last year, we kind of had it off of our shoulders a little bit, but this year we realized that it was our chance now. This senior group has gotten pretty close over the past four years, so it was great to be able to end it on a high note.”
The Gulls claimed their 12th national title with a 15-7 win over No. 2 Rochester Institute on Sunday, in a game played at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Mass., that saw crowds upwards of 30,000 fans.
“It was awesome to be able to play there,” said Ternahan, who also got the chance to play at Lincoln Field in Philadelphia, Pa., during last year’s title game. “The atmosphere was pretty crazy. We had a lot of people make the trip, so there was a pretty good fan base for it being so far away.”
After Salisbury jumped out to a 6-4 lead at the half and 10-5 lead in the third quarter, RIT would try to spark a comeback with a score that cut the ’Gulls lead to 10-6 near the quarter’s end, threatening to add another when they successfully secured the ensuing possession and set up the offense.
But after a Tigers turnover, it would turn out to be Ternahan — a long-stick midfielder on both face-offs and defense — who reignited the SU offense.
“I just immediately started breaking up the field,” Ternahan said of the play going down with third-quarter seconds wearing thin. “I had one guy on my back who I knew was an attackman, so I just put my stick out in front and kept going.”
After dodging an RIT rider on a full-field clear, the senior LSM paved the way for a personally-generated five-on-three fast-break, eventually dishing the rock to fellow defensive-mid and faceoff specialist T.J. Logue, who buried the shot for the score, to give the ’Gulls back the momentum — this time for good.
“[T.J.] was running next to me the whole way — I kept looking it off, looking it off, and then at the last second threw it to him. He’s our faceoff guy, so if you give him the ball 10 times, he’ll probably hit the goal once,” Ternahan said with a laugh. “But he hit it this time. For both of us to get a point in the national championship was pretty cool.”
With the assist — and the goal that he had scored in Salisbury’s quarterfinal matchup against No. 9 Cabrini earlier in the tournament — Ternahan rounded out his senior campaign with three goals, six assists and 81 ground balls, collecting All-American honors for the second straight season as a First-Team USILA selection.
He earned First-Team CAC (Capital Athletic Conference) honors for the second straight year as well and was named the CAC Defensive Player of the Week twice during the spring.
For his collective collegiate-career, Ternahan will go out with 32 total points (15 goals, 17 assists) and 273 ground balls, while appearing in 76 games for the ’Gulls since arriving on campus as a freshman.
While he’s currently taking the week off to celebrate the victory with his teammates, the two-time national champ and recent college grad will make his way back to the Bethany boardwalk next week to spend the summer helping his family run Breaker’s Surf Shop.
After that, he said, he’s going to let life unfold, expressing an interest on not giving up his lacrosse career just yet, by giving back to the game and possibly getting into coaching, to join the crusade on growing the sport at the local level.
“It’s definitely cool to be from this area and just starting to see more and more people starting to get into it,” he said. “Schools like Indian River [High School] didn’t even have a team when I was starting out, so it’s pretty awesome to see lacrosse growing around here.”