SALISBURY, Md. – The No. 2 Salisbury University field hockey team had a banner game on Saturday evening, bringing home the program's 20th Capital Athletic Conference championship before a crowd of more than 500 – and setting a new conference record in the process.
Top-seeded Salisbury's 8-0 shutout victory – its 10th shutout of the season – against third-seeded University of Mary Washington (12-6) was the most goals scored in a championship game since the inception of the CAC in 1991. With the dominant win, the Sea Gulls have punched their ticket to the program's 32nd NCAA tournament.
The Sea Gulls (16-1) set the tone almost immediately after the first whistle and never looked back. The senior duo of Becca Rinaca and Hannah Miller connected just 3:36 into the game when Miller ripped a cross from the right-hand side and Rinaca tipped the ball in for the 1-0 lead. Less than three minutes later, sophomore Kristen Yingling fired off an unassisted tally for the 2-0 edge. She then proceeded to dish out an assist to Rinaca for the third goal of the game, as well as tally the fourth goal of the contest in the 25th minute.
But the Sea Gulls were not finished. They scored three goals in a span of just two minutes in the second half – a pair of scores off the stick of junior Natalie Wilkinson, and one from senior Abbey Shobe – before Rinaca tallied the final goal of the game in the 52nd minute for the record-breaking victory.
Yet another stellar defensive team effort kept the Eagles grounded; despite having a 9-6 edge over Salisbury in penalty corners, Mary Washington was unable to capitalize. Overall, Salisbury held a 19-13 edge in shots, and junior keeper Tressie Windsor made a season-high seven saves.
Offensively, Rinaca – who was named an NFHCA Division III Senior Game selection on Wednesday– paced the Sea Gulls, scoring three goals.
Salisbury has now outscored its opponents an impressive 79-10 this season. The Sea Gulls have not allowed an opponent to score a goal in the past 443 minutes of play.
The 2016 CAC title marks the fourth-straight conference championship for Salisbury's six seniors. The last senior class to earn four CAC titles in a row was the 2009 squad, which went on to win the national championship.
With the win, the Sea Gulls earn the conference's automatic bid into the NCAA tournament. The full field of competitors will be announced Sunday, November 6. Check www.suseagulls.com for details as they become available.