September 19, 2012

Clewer comes up big in penalty shootout as Sea Gulls edge Catholic, 4-3

SALISBURY, Md. – After 100 minutes of play the No. 2 Salisbury University field hockey team defeated No. 7 Catholic University of America in a penalty shootout, 4-3. Sophomore goalie Rachel Clewer made four consecutive stops to lead the Sea Gulls to victory as sophomore Summer Washburn and junior Emily Voshell had each slammed goals into the back of the cage early on.

It marked the first time Salisbury has gone into a penalty shootout since 2001, when the Sea Gulls fell in strokes to Lynchburg College, 2-1, in an NCAA Semifinal.

The Cardinals (4-2) came out strong in the first 35 minutes of play, taking the early 1-0 lead just three minutes into the hard-fought match. Catholic pressed the Salisbury defense until Washburn made a stop in her own defensive 25 and dribbled the ball up the field, passing to junior Mallory Elliott who sent a short pass to senior Melissa Slocum for the tying goal.

Salisbury's (7-0) defense was challenged by Catholic, as the Cardinals scored twice more, one of which came off a penalty corner. Maura Campbell's shot from the top of the circle gave Catholic the 2-1 advantage before Katie Bertrand's goal put Catholic up by two.

Salisbury Head Coach Dawn Chamberlin called a timeout with 23 minutes left to play in the first half, which seemed to be what the Gulls needed as the intensity increased after the stoppage.

The Sea Gulls may have been down 3-1 at the half but a momentum shift was on the rise as Salisbury matched Catholic statistically in shots (6-6) and penalty corners (4-4). Clewer made two saves in the half.

As the whistle blew for the start of the second half, Salisbury's level of play increased, scoring just a minute and a half in, as the maroon and gold took advantage of a penalty corner. Washburn took a pass from Slocum at the top ripping home SU's second goal and bringing it within one.

Catholic would have a chance to bring the score back to a two-goal advantage two minutes after the Sea Gulls' score, but was unable to put in a corner opportunity. Salisbury moved the ball up field and senior Kristina Fusco would use a reverse chip to tie the game at three apiece.

The two teams would trade possession of the ball and scoring chances but neither could convert and at the end of 70 minutes the teams headed into the first overtime.

Again, the Cardinals came out strong earning a penalty corner minutes into overtime, but excellent play by the Gulls' defense moved the ball up field where Salisbury earned a corner of its own. Washburn's shot from the top of the circle looked as though it would be the golden goal but Catholic defender Catherine Mirsky made the defensive save.

Clewer made one save in the first 15 minute overtime period before the Sea Gulls and Cardinals headed into the final 15 minutes of play.

Salisbury dominated the second overtime period, taking nine shots and earning one penalty corner while the Sea Gull defense, consisting of freshmen Amanda Cooper and senior Amber Holland, kept the Cardinals from gaining any offensive ground. With time expired on the clock and a penalty corner for the Sea Gulls, Salisbury had one last chance to seal the deal before the possibility of entering a penalty shootout, but the chance was not successful.

The new penalty shootout gives a player eight seconds starting at the 25-yard line to put the ball past the opposing goalkeeper; this is in replacement of penalty strokes. In a penalty shootout each team has five players who have the opportunity to score.

Clewer stepped up big stopping Taylor Elliott allowing Salisbury the chance to take the early lead in the shootout. Washburn did just that, juking Megan Comunale (14 saves) and slamming the ball into the backboard for a 1-0 edge. Catholic's next attempt by Madalyn Dennis would be denied by Clewer. Voshell would convert her attempt to give SU a 2-0 advantage. Clewer made two additional stops to win the game and preserve the Sea Gulls' perfect record.

SU will now head out on a four-game road trip as it heads to St. Mary's (Md.) College to start play in the Capital Athletic Conference. The Sea Gulls will face off against the Seahawks on Saturday, Sept. 22, at 12:30 p.m.

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