ST. MARY'S CITY, Md. – The No. 1 Salisbury University women's lacrosse team took down Capital Athletic Conference-foe St. Mary's College of Maryland Sunday afternoon, 11-3, to clinch the top seed in the conference tournament.
The Sea Gulls (15-0, 6-0 CAC) jumped out to an early lead against the Seahawks (7-7, 3-2 CAC), scoring three goals in the opening nine minutes. Taking three shots on goal, all being saved by St. Mary's goalkeeper Kayla Dunn, Salisbury wouldn't find the back of the net until the fourth shot when sophomore Megan Wallenhorst received a pass from junior Kara O'Rourke to give the Sea Gulls the lead that they would never lose.
Five minutes later, senior Shannon Carta scored her first on an unassisted attempt before junior Shelby Nemecek would catch a swift pass from junior Kate Haker to extend the lead to 3-0 with 20:46 remaining in the first half.
St. Mary's Abbey Harrison would get the Seahawks on the board for their first goal less than five minutes after Nemecek's goal, but the junior would halt any opportunity for a St. Mary's run with another tally 30 seconds later. Freshman Gabbi Nieves would win the ensuing draw control and Nemecek would make the run down the fan for the unassisted finish and the 4-1 lead.
Nemecek tallied her 11th hat trick of the season with 3:45 remaining in the half, off a pass by Carta, to give the Sea Gulls a 5-1 lead at the break.
Salisbury recorded 13 shots in 30 minutes of play with 10 on goal. St. Mary's tallied just four shots, all of which were on goal, but senior Ashton Wheatley turned away three to keep the Seahawks at just one goal for the half.
In a game of possession, the ball was only turned over a total of five times in the first half of play, twice by Salisbury.
Second-half scoring started up right out of the gate with senior Katelyn Blondino catching a pass from Wallenhorst for the finish just 58 seconds after the draw control win by Nieves.
Nemecek continued her incredible afternoon with back-to-back goals 29 seconds between each other. Winning the draw control after Blondino's goal, the junior was fouled by Brynn Miller and finished the free-position attempt to tally number four for the day. Number five came after winning yet another draw control, as Nemecek received a pass from Haker to blast one past Dunn.
With 23:53 remaining, Carta added her second of the game before sophomore Samantha Duranti would find the back of the net two minutes later to extend the Sea Gull lead to nine. Moments later, junior Kylie Hanley put the final touch on for the Sea Gulls, scoring a free-position attempt 37 seconds later.
St. Mary's would add one more goal on a man-up opportunity, but Salisbury would hold out for the 11-3 victory.
For the game, Salisbury doubled the Seahawks' shots with 24, putting 18 on goal. SU held the edge in draw controls, winning 9-of-16. Nemecek, Nieves and sophomore Allison Toomey all won two draws apiece.
The offense was paced by another great performance by Nemecek with a game-high five goals, while Carta added two goals and an assist for three points.
The defense held strong through the entirety of the game, only allowing 12 shots, 10 on goal, forced eight turnovers, two of which were caused, and scooped up 11 groundballs. Freshman Kieran Kelleher led both teams in groundball pickups with three.
Wheatley recorded the win in the net for her 14th of the season, making seven saves through 60 minutes of play.
With the win, the Sea Gulls claim the top spot in the conference tournament. With the top spot, SU receives a first-round bye and will wait in the semifinals to play the winner of the No. 4/No. 5 game in the first round. The semifinal matchup will be played at Salisbury on Saturday, April 26, with the time to be announced.
The women travel back to Sea Gull Stadium for their last regular-season home game and final CAC matchup on Wednesday afternoon, as Salisbury takes on Marymount (Va.) University. First draw is set for 4 p.m.