FROSTBURG, Md. – No. 3 Salisbury University went toe to toe with No. 2 Frostburg State University in the Capital Athletic Conference semifinals on Wednesday night. A goal in the 83rd minute was all the Bobcats needed to defeat the Sea Gulls and move on to the championship match.
Frostburg State (9-7-2) seized a slight edge in momentum to start the match, but its pressure never became too overwhelming for Salisbury (10-10-0), which fought back and kept the ball in the middle third of the field.
With 10 minutes remaining in the first half, the Bobcats began to pick up some steam and found a couple of chances to grab the lead. Their first scoring opportunity came in the 36th minute when midfielder Jesse Dunagan made a breakaway move towards the net, but good positioning and a great save by goalkeeper Hope Knussman foiled the potential strike. Frostburg State forward Helen Francis came back a minute later with a chance of her own, but her open look soared just over the net.
Salisbury came out of the gate strong at the top of the second half. Forward Julianna Boller had a good look only two minutes in, but her shot ended up sailing a little too high and out of play.
Forward Ruthie Lucas provided Salisbury its best opportunity up to that point in the match when she received a crossing pass from Boller before taking aim from the middle of the box, but Bobcats goalkeeper Emily Faust was lined up to make the save.
From that point on, both teams started to find more looks as play started to spread up and down the field.
Knussman made her best save of the match in the 77th minute on a bullet by Bobcats forward Danielle Ferris. Ferris took a shot from long range that sailed towards the top of the net, but Knussman made a perfectly-timed leap and deflected the ball up and over the net.
With time ticking down, it looked as though Salisbury and Frostburg State would be heading to overtime, but a Bobcats free kick would become the turning point in the match. Defender Alyssa Malanik sent the kick towards the net from 50 yards out, before it found the head of midfielder Melanie Ball. Bell redirected the ball into the left side of the net from the right side of the box to put her team up late, 1-0.
The maroon and gold had one final opportunity to level the match in the 86th minute when Lucas received a pass in front. The senior got a strong shot off from point blank range, but Faust made her most important play of the game on a perfectly-executed diving save to preserve the victory and send Frostburg St. on to the title match.
The Sea Gulls edged the Bobcats in shots, 11-10, while the Bobcats held slight edges in corner kicks, 4-3, and saves, 7-6.
Frostburg State will travel to Christopher Newport University to take on the Captains in the CAC Championship match on Saturday, November 4.