SALISBURY, Md. – Coming off of their 21st Capital Athletic Conference and 34th NCAA Tournament appearance a season ago, the Salisbury University field hockey team is looking to take it "day-by-day" to reach their ultimate goal of repeating as CAC Champions and returning to the NCAA Tournament for the 26th consecutive season.
"The most important goal for the team is to get better each and every day," said head coach Dawn Chamberlin, who is entering her 33rd season at the helm of Salisbury field hockey. "We have a great group of young women this year who I'm excited to get the year started with."
The team returns nine starters and seven of their eight All-CAC honorees from last season, highlighted by CAC Player of the Year and two-time National Field Hockey Coaches Association All-American Jillian Hughes. Hughes, along with seniors Tara Daddio, Lindsey Elgin, Arielle Johnston, Jenna Partilla and Sarah Jackson provide veteran leadership to a team stocked with the depth at every position.
"Our team has a good core of seniors and juniors along with young talent that is going to mix in very well and that is something that every team needs. The drive to be successful is there for everyone. The veterans have experienced that success and now it's up to the newcomers to grow and get to that success."
The highest-scoring offense in the CAC last season returns five of their leading goal scorers. Daddio led the CAC in goals (18) and tied for the points lead with 39. Partilla and 2018 CAC Rookie of the Year sophomore Tara Flavin tied for second on the team in goals (7) while sophomore forward McKenzie Mitchell and Johnston had six and five goals respectively.
Hughes, Jackson, Elgin and All-CAC Second Team goalkeeper Dom Farrace pace a Sea Gull defensive half that finished sixth in Division III in goals-against average (0.64) and shutouts (12).
Salisbury was picked as the unanimous favorites in the CAC Preseason Poll, which was released on Tuesday. The Sea Gulls picked up all five first-place votes and 25 points in a vote among the conference head coaches. Christopher Newport collected the other first-place votes and finished second in the poll with 20 points while York, Mary Washington, St. Mary's and Southern Virginia rounded out the poll in that order.
Salisbury opens the season at the two-day Susquehanna University Tournament in Selinsgrove, Pa. The tournament starts on Friday, Aug. 30 when the Sea Gulls take on the Kean Cougars at 4:30 p.m. Salisbury will open their home slate on Wednesday, Sept. 4 at 6 p.m. when they host the Stevenson Mustangs under the lights at Sea Gull Stadium.
To view the CAC Preseason Poll, click here.