Gulls go undefeated in regular-season conference play, beat Saints 9-4

Gulls go undefeated in regular-season conference play, beat Saints 9-4

SALISBURY, Md. – On a brisk Wednesday afternoon at Sea Gull Stadium, the No. 1 Salisbury University women's lacrosse team closed out the home regular-season schedule with a 9-4 victory over Capital Athletic Conference-opponent Marymount (Va.) University. 

The Sea Gulls (16-0, 7-0 CAC) remain undefeated through 39 contests, but also met another milestone against St. Mary's College of Maryland on Sunday with 100-consecutive victories against CAC opponents, including postseason play. Today's win moves that streak to 101.  With the close of CAC play this season, it marks the 12th-consecutive year that the program has rolled undefeated through league play.

In a first half that saw much possession by the Saints, the Sea Gull defense held Marymount to just six shots, four on goal, for one score through 30 minutes of play.

Salisbury would find the back of the net first, three minutes in, when senior Shannon Carta rolled around the backside of the crease to heave a pass over the goal to junior Shelby Nemecek, who sliced down the middle of the fan, for a high-right finish.

Marymount put in its lone goal of the half almost two minutes later on a free-position attempt by Courtney Oehl, but would be overshadowed by five-consecutive Sea Gull goals starting with 23:53 remaining in the half. Sophomore Samantha Duranti carried the ball along the right side of the eight-meter fan when she lined a quick pass into the middle to senior Katelyn Blondino for the swift shot.

With a 2-1 lead, Nemecek and Carta would hook up for the second time in the game on a very similar goal as the first. Carta made a behind-the-goal pass to Nemecek, but with a high ball, the junior outreached her stick for the snatch and kept it high for a top-right corner finish past Marymount goalkeeper Kiki Niebuhr.

Junior Kara O'Rourke and sophomore Megan Wallenhorst utilized the back-of-the-goal approach as well, as O'Rourke found Wallenhorst diving down the middle of the fan for the pass and shot to move the score to 4-1 with 8:48 remaining.

After junior Kylie Hanley added her first of two for the game on an unassisted attempt, Blondino would put in her second making a cut from the left side and catching a pass from Wallenhorst on the right for a low shot past the keeper with 36 seconds remaining in the half.

The Sea Gulls would take the 6-1 lead into the break outshooting the Saints, 10-6. Marymount held the edge in draw controls, winning 6-of-8, but Salisbury would push the momentum off of 12 Saints' turnovers through 30 minutes of play.

Marymount opened the second half of play getting on the board first off another Oehl goal, but SU would answer back with three straight to put the game away. Wallenhorst and O'Rourke connected on another to start the run, as O'Rourke made a pass on the left side, goal-line extended, to Wallenhorst for the quick-stick finish.

O'Rourke had her opportunity to contribute to the scoring, receiving a pass from sophomore Melissa Webster from the back-right side of the goal and lining a shot to the top-left corner.

Hanley put the finishing touch on for the Sea Gulls with 12:17 remaining to move the score to 9-2. The Saints would score two more times in the closing minutes, but Salisbury would hold strong defensively and halt the score at 9-4.

The Gulls outshot MU for the game, 18-13, putting 16 on goal.

The offense was paced by eight Sea Gulls that recorded points for the game. Blondino, Nemecek, Hanley, and Wallenhorst all tallied two goals apiece, while O'Rourke posted a game-high four points on one goal and three assists.

Through 60 minutes, the Salisbury defense, led by senior Meghan Toomey and junior Dominique DiPino, caused 11 of the 20 turnovers for Marymount, only allowing the Saints to clear the ball on 11 of their 18 attempts. DiPino scooped up a tied game-high three groundballs while causing one turnover, and Toomey picked up two loose balls along with forcing two turnovers.

Senior goalkeeper Ashton Wheatley recorded the victory in the cage making three saves through 47:43 of play. Junior Alyssa Harmke played the remaining 12:17, making two saves.

As CAC play comes to a close, the Sea Gulls look forward to a first-round bye in the conference tournament. Postseason competition will start up for Salisbury Saturday, April 26, as it awaits the winner of the No. 4/No. 5 matchup in the first round between Christopher Newport University and St. Mary's College of Maryland. Time of the semifinal match is to be announced.

With the unblemished record, the women take the field for their final regular-season game on Sunday, April 20, as the Sea Gulls faceoff in another battle of unbeatens when they meet up with No. 2 State University of New York at Cortland. First draw is set for 12 p.m. from Stadium Red Field.

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