SALISBURY, Md. – The No. 3 Salisbury University women's lacrosse team claimed the program's 16th straight and 18th overall Capital Athletic Conference championship with a 12-7 victory against No. 8 University of Mary Washington on Saturday.
In the previous meeting between the two teams, just 21 days ago, the Sea Gulls (18-1) were forced to overcome a five-goal deficit in the final eight minutes of the game to take an 11-10 win. This time around, Salisbury was the one to build a four-goal lead with just under eight minutes remaining, though the Sea Gulls clamped down on defense to ensure there was no comeback.
Salisbury got on the board first when Krissy Murphy found the back of the net. With the play cleared out for her on the right side of the fan, Murphy made a jab step to the outside before cutting around the defender, charging to the middle and firing into the upper right corner of the goal for the 1-0 lead 10 minutes into the contest. The teams traded goals throughout the opening half of play, with Murphy scoring Salisbury's first three tallies.
Mary Washington (16-4) answered with goals over the next five minutes from Paige Haskins and Allison Davis to take a 2-1 lead, but Salisbury was prepared to answer and it was Murphy for the second time, coming from behind the cage and depositing the equalizer into the top corner with 12:33 showing on the clock in the first half.
The Eagles pulled ahead with their second free-position goal of the day before Murphy pulled the Sea Gulls even again, this time coming from behind the cage and finding the lower left-hand corner of the net.
Courtney Fegan put Salisbury back on top after she recovered a groundball following her own shot, faking out the goalie to give the Sea Gulls a 4-3 lead. After Mary Washington evened the score a minute later, Fegan notched her second of the day off a feed from Murphy.
The Eagles finished off the back-and-forth first half with Kristen Kunaniec's second goal of the day, evening the score 5-5 heading into the break.
Kunaniec opened the second half scoring for Mary Washington nearly nine minutes in. Less than a minute later, the Eagles had a chance to net the insurance tally with another free-position call, but Gianna Falcone made the stop on Kennedy King, allowing Salisbury to answer again.
On a free-position for the Sea Gulls, Elaine Draper retreated after being surrounded by Mary Washington defenders, where she found a wide-open Fegan on the door step, who finished high to tie the game 6-6 with just under 20 minutes to play.
Allie Hynson got a free-position chance with 15:39 left in the game, charging in from the right side before shooting back to the right side of the goal for the 7-6 lead. When Hynson scored a quick goal on a Murphy assist with 14:30 left, it marked the first two-goal lead of the game for either team.
Fegan then scored a fourth-consecutive marker for the home team, and her fourth of the game, to push the lead to 9-6 with 13 minutes left in the game. Dana King capped the 5-0 rally for the maroon and gold on another free-position shot, firing a shot past the keeper's left side for the 10-6 advantage.
Mary Washington ended its 16-minute scoring drought with five minutes remaining to pull within 10-7, but Salisbury tacked on two more goals to cap the victory. Hynson converted on Salisbury's fourth free-position goal of the game, while Gabrielle Mongno bounced one through the keeper's legs after receiving a cross-field pass from King.
The Salisbury defense held the high-powered Mary Washington offense to just 15 shots while forcing 20 turnovers. Morgon Von Schmidt and Kendall Bannan combined for four caused turnovers and six groundballs. Falcone, who caused one turnover and came up with three groundballs, made seven saves on 14 shots on net to earn the win.
With the Sea Gulls claiming the CAC title, they also earn the league's automatic bid into the NCAA tournament, with the field being announced on Sunday night. The Sea Gulls will begin play in the tournament next weekend.