SALISBURY, Md. – The No. 2 Salisbury University field hockey team opens play in its 32nd NCAA tournament appearance on Saturday, November 12, hosting Kenyon College in the second round of the championship at Sea Gull Stadium beginning at 11 a.m.
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How we got here
The Sea Gulls completed the regular season with a 14-1 mark, including a perfect 6-0 record in Capital Athletic Conference play. The unblemished league record afforded Salisbury the top seed in the CAC tournament, which gave the Sea Gulls a first-round bye and home-field advantage in the event. After beginning slowly in the CAC semifinal round against York College of Pennsylvania and seeing the game scoreless at halftime, Salisbury exploded for five goals in the second half in a 5-0 win, and carried that momentum into the CAC championship game against the University of Mary Washington, scoring twice in the first seven minutes of the game, and never truly were threatened in an 8-0 win to pick up the CAC title and the automatic bid into the NCAA tournament.
How they got here
Kenyon also earned an automatic bid into the NCAA tournament, topping DePauw University, 2-1 in overtime for the North Coast Athletic Conference title. After getting into the NCAA tournament, the Ladies traveled for the opening round this past Wednesday, earning a 2-1 overtime victory at Elizabethtown College to send them to the weekend at Sea Gull Stadium. Kenyon enters the matchup with Salisbury having won three-straight games in overtime by 2-1 scores.
These teams have met just once, during the 2009 season – the year of Salisbury's last NCAA championship – with the Gulls claiming a 7-0 victory.
Last time we met
In the lone previous meeting, on September 27, 2009, the Sea Gulls took a 2-0 lead at halftime and poured on five goals in the second half. Lauren Correll scored a career-high five goals, putting home Salisbury's first three goals. Courtney Webster scored the other two Sea Gull tallies. Salisbury outshot the Ladies 29-3 in the game with goalkeeper Anna Cooke recording two saves.
Scouting the Ladies
Kenyon has won four of its last five games, and enters play this weekend with a 15-6 overall record. In games played on the road, the Ladies are 8-3 in 2016. This is Kenyon's fifth NCAA tournament appearance, with the Ladies on an upset tear lately. As the No. 3 seed in the NCAC tournament, Kenyon topped second-seeded Denison University before besting top-seeded DePauw and then hitting the road for the win at Elizabethtown. Katelyn Hutchinson leads the way offensively for the Ladies, scoring 11 goals this season, followed closely by Weezie Foster's 10 tallies. Kelsey Trulik is one of three players with four goals, but it was her latest goal that came five minutes into overtime at Elizabethtown to send Kenyon to this weekend.
Who blinks first?
Saturday's game features two of the top goalkeepers in the nation. Sarah Speroff brings a save percentage of .852 into play against Salisbury, which ranks fourth in the nation. Salisbury junior Tressie Windsor has been equally impressive this year, registering seven solo shutouts in 2016 and ranking third in the nation with a 0.61 goals-allowed average.
Home nest advantage
The selection to host is important for the Sea Gulls as the squad is perfect at home in 2016, having won all eight games at Sea Gull Stadium. Salisbury is currently riding a 22-match home winning streak. Prior to a perfect 7-0 mark in 2015, the Sea Gulls won their final six contests in 2014. The last home loss came on October 14, 2014 against Christopher Newport University.
Help is on the way
Salisbury has been an unselfish team in 2016, recording assists on 54 percent of their goals. The team's 2.53 assists per game – led by Annah Brittingham's eight helpers this season – rank seventh in the nation.
The winner of Saturday's game will turn around for a third-round contest on Sunday, November 13 at Sea Gull Stadium, taking on the winner of this site's other second-round matchup between Ursinus College and Trinity (Conn.) College. The time for Sunday's game is set for 1 p.m.