Second half comeback sends Sea Gulls through to NCAA third round

Second half comeback sends Sea Gulls through to NCAA third round

CLINTON N.Y. - After securing a trip to the NCAA tournament second round, the No. 9 Salisbury University women's lacrosse team took on host Hamilton College Sunday afternoon, erasing a four-goal deficit in the second half, defeating the Continentals 7-5 to move on to the third round of the tournament next weekend.

Sunday's game opened as a physical, back-and-fourth contest that saw the teams amass 11 combined turnovers in the game's opening 10 minutes before a Hamilton timeout calmed the storm.

Following the timeout, both teams continued their defensive effort until the ninth minute when the hosts broke through the Gulls' back line off a cutting run from sophmore attacker Tatiana Bradley to give the Continentals the early 1-0 advantage.

With time winding down in the first, Salisbury responded with a tally of its own as junior attacker Dana King found a streaking Courtney Fegan who buried her attempt past Hamilton goalkeeper Hannah Burrall to bring the scores level with just over five minutes left in the half.

Going into the half both teams shared a similar scoreline as Salisbury outshot Hamilton 8-5, while junior keeper Gianna Falcone picked up two saves to Burrall's three. The Gulls defensive unit scooped up nine ground balls and earned all three of the draw controls in the game's opening 30 minutes.

At the start of the second half the host got out on the offense early as the Continentals posted back-to-back tallies from Skyler Simpson, extending Hamilton's lead to 3-1 just under five minutes into the second.

Following two more Hamilton tallies the Gulls responded with a tally of their own as senior defender Marcy Lenz scooped up a ground ball and converted her solo run just outside the crease to bring Salisbury within three, 5-2, with plenty of time in the contest.

The Sea Gulls did not relinquish on attack as consecutive strikes from Dana King, Gabbi Nieves, and Lindsey Wagner brought the score level at five apiece with 11 minutes left in the game.

The maroon and gold continued their rout three minutes later as Krissy Murphy broke through the Continental back line and slotted home a Alissa Talbert pass by Burrall to give the Gulls their first lead of the contest with eight minutes left in regulation.

As time wound down, freshman Anna Wehland came up big for the Sea Gulls defensively after knocking down a Hamilton pass to keep Salisbury's lead with just over a minute to play.

With just under a minute to play the Continentals brought Burrall out of the cage to pressure Salisbury's offense in hopes of causing a Sea Gull turnover and keep their tournament chances alive but Nieves was able to break free from her defender and catch Burrall out of position for Salisbury's seventh and final tally of the contest, shutting the door on the hosts' chances to move on.

At the end of regulation, Salisbury had outshot the Continentals 21-12 with Falcone earning four saves to Burrall's eight. The hardened maroon and gold back line never relinquished as they allowed only seven second half shots, scooped up 17 ground balls, caused 18 turnovers and earned 7-of-11 draw controls in the second half (10 overall).

With the victory the Sea Gulls move on to the third round of the NCAA tournament and will be back in action next Saturday, May 20, to take on Ithaca College. That game time and location are to be determined.

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