Gulls down Spartans, 13-6, to claim 12th-consecutive CAC title
SALISBURY, Md. – The Capital Athletic Conference title count extended to 14 Saturday night at Sea Gull Stadium, as the No. 2 Salisbury University women's lacrosse team downed No. 13 York College of Pennsylvania, 13-6, in the conference championship for the third-straight year.
In a game that remained close for the opening 18 minutes, Salisbury (18-1) burst off on two four-goal runs to blow open the game and continued to prove dominant in the CAC. The title is the 14th in program history and the 12th in a row. For the 12th-straight year, the Sea Gulls have gone undefeated in conference play, including postseason, hitting the 103-wins mark at the conclusion of the 2014 CAC season.
Winning the opening draw control gave Salisbury the first chance to put points on the scoreboard, and capitalizing on that opportunity was junior Kate Haker just 58 seconds into the first half. Carrying the ball around the backside of the net toward the left side of the eight-meter fan, Haker dodged a York defender, rolling left for a swift shot to the left from the right side of the net.
The Spartans (14-4) wasted no time getting their first goal and drawing the score even, as York's Sarah Castle picked up a deflected pass in the middle of the fan for a quick shot.
Both teams would trade goals in the following seven minutes, as senior Shannon Carta took advantage of a man-up free-position attempt before York's Megan Stine put in her first of two for the game. The 2-2 score was the last time the game was tied.
With 13:20 remaining in the first half, Salisbury exploited the York defense, going on its first four-goal run. Junior Bethany Baer started up the run, cutting down the top of the arc while catching a pass from the left side by Haker. The reception was quick as Baer quickly shot the ball past Spartans goalkeeper Ashley Smith. Carta would tag two more goals in the run, while junior Shelby Nemecek split Carta's tallies with an unassisted score after dodging the defense on the left side of the fan.
York halted the run off an Erica Mulford finish, but Salisbury would put the final touch on the half with 53 seconds remaining. Junior Kara O'Rourke carried the ball to the backside of the goal where she blasted a pass over the top of the goal to a cutting Nemecek. Catching the high pass, Nemecek would fire the ball past Smith and gave the Sea Gulls a 7-3 lead heading into the break.
For the first half, Salisbury outshot the Spartans, 13-6. The Sea Gulls held the edge through the first 30 minutes in draw controls, winning 6-of-11.
York opened the second half scoring the first goal, but Salisbury hit a spark again on offense recording four-straight goals in a six-minute span. Haker started the scoring with 24:59 remaining, while O'Rourke, senior Katelyn Blondino and Baer followed in suit.
The Spartans scored two more times in the closing minutes as both finishers were split with goals by Nemecek and Carta to push the score to the 13-6 final.
For the game, Salisbury totaled 25 shots, 20 on goal, while York shot 19 times, 13 on target. Winning the draw-control battle, 11-10, the Sea Gulls just missed a perfect day on clearing, converting on 12-of-13 attempts.
The offense saw scoring from six different Sea Gulls, as Carta paced Salisbury with a game-high four goals. Mulford led the Spartans with three finishes.
The defense, led by Baer and senior Meghan Toomey, pushed the York offense to 11 turnovers for the game, five forced. Baer recorded game highs in caused turnovers and groundballs with two and four, respectively, while Toomey scooped two balls and forced one York miscue.
Senior Ashton Wheatley recorded the victory in the cage, making seven saves on 13 shots through 60 minutes of play. The Cambridge, Md., native also picked up four groundballs, tied for a game high with Baer. The four scoops move the senior into second place in program history for groundballs with 124.
The Sea Gulls earned the CAC's automatic bid into the NCAA Division III tournament, and now await the tournament selection show on Sunday at 9:30 p.m., on NCAA.com for their first matchup of the tournament.