Top-seeded Gulls rebound from first defeat of season with dominant 21-4 showing in CAC semifinals
SALISBURY, Md. – The postseason kicked off Sunday afternoon for the top-seeded Salisbury University women's lacrosse team, as the Sea Gulls knocked off fifth-seeded Christopher Newport University, 21-4, in a Capital Athletic Conference semifinal matchup at Sea Gull Stadium.
After recording its first loss of the season last week, Salisbury (17-1) bounced back in Sunday's victory to extend three winning streaks. Including postseason play, the Sea Gulls have reached the 102-consecutive game mark in the CAC while also holding a 37-game winning streak at home. With the semifinal win against CNU, the Sea Gulls remain undefeated while playing the Captains, maintaining a 13-0 record.
Salisbury bolstered 10 goals against Christopher Newport (10-8) in the opening 15 minutes, starting the running clock before the Captains would tally their only goal of the half with 13:38 remaining.
Senior Shannon Carta opened up scoring for the game less than two minutes in off a free-position attempt, and would quickly add her second on another free position with 26:07 remaining in the half. Adding to the free-position tally just 30 seconds later was sophomore Megan Wallenhorst, driving in for the low shot past Captains' goalkeeper Hanna Slough.
The scoring would continue a minute and 30 seconds later, as junior Kate Haker rolled around the backside of the goal, dodging the defense for an unassisted tally. Junior Shelby Nemecek would add her first of two for the game less than a minute after Haker's goal, catching a pass from junior Kara O'Rourke while diving down the middle of the fan.
In the 10-goal run to start the game, Carta recorded four of the goals while Nemecek, Haker and Wallenhorst all scored two apiece before CNU's Jessica Singer would put the Captains on the board.
Carta would eliminate any attempt for Christopher Newport with her final goal of the game followed up by two more goals by Haker and a finish by senior Katelyn Blondino to take a 14-1 lead into the break.
At the half, Salisbury totaled 23 shots and just three turnovers. The Sea Gulls limited the Captains to just three shots, while pushing CNU to turn over the possession nine times.
SU opened the second half the same way it started the game, scoring in the first two minutes. O'Rourke hooked up with Haker for her first goal of the game to go along with a game-high three assists for four points.
Blondino and junior Bethany Baer extended the lead, both scoring goals following O'Rourke's tally to give the Sea Gulls a 17-1 lead with 21:54 remaining.
Sophomore Katelin Talbert split two CNU goals with a free-position attempt at the 14:56 mark, before freshman Annie Brown recorded her first two goals as a collegiate lacrosse player. Catching a pass from freshman Gabbi Nieves, Brown found a gap in the defense for a quick shot past the keeper. Just over two minutes later, the freshman would add one more to her memorable day with a free-position attempt.
Sophomore Samantha Duranti capped off the scoring for the Sea Gulls with eight seconds remaining, cutting in on the left side of the fan for an unassisted finish.
Salisbury limited CNU to just 10 shots for the game, which is the third fewest this season behind five against Southern Virginia University and nine in the season-opener against Roanoke College. SU went a perfect 11-for-11 on clear attempts, while edging CNU in draw controls, 15-12. Junior Laura Maskell and Nemecek tied for a game-high in draw controls with four apiece.
Contributing to the scoring for Salisbury was a total of 10 Sea Gulls led by Carta and Haker with six and five points, respectively. Carta recorded a career-high five goals and an assist, Haker scored four goals and an assist.
The defense for Salisbury caused 10 turnovers out of the 15 total for CNU. Baer forced a game-high three, while Nemecek and Maskell added two. Maskell also picked up a game-high four groundballs.
Senior Ashton Wheatley recorded the victory in the cage, making three saves and giving up just two goals through 42:23 of play. With the win, the senior captain has now reached the 60-win mark in her career. Junior Alyssa Harmke finished up the game making two saves on four shots.
With Sunday's semifinal victory, the women get set for the conference championship next Saturday, May 3. The Sea Gulls have won 13 CAC titles dating back to 2000, and collected 11-consecutive championships since the 2003 season. Salisbury will play host as the top seed, as it welcomes second-seeded York College of Pennsylvania to Sea Gull Stadium. The time is to be announced.