SALISBURY, Md. – In a game of keeping composure in the midst of trailing seven goals, the top-ranked Salisbury University women's lacrosse team opened up the season with a program-record comeback to take down No. 18 Stevenson University in double overtime, 10-9, on a snowy Tuesday night at Sea Gull Stadium.
Having no answer to the Mustangs through the first 30 minutes, the Sea Gulls (1-0) found themselves trailing 7-0 at the break. This was just the second time in program history that Salisbury was held scoreless in the first half of play, with the other time being in the 2012 National Championship game against Trinity (Conn.) College.
The fire was lit in the second half, with the table being turned on Stevenson (0-2), as the Gulls went on a six-goal run through 17 minutes to get back within one goal, 7-6. Senior Bethany Baer, who finished the day with a game-high four goals, started things off for Salisbury in the opening minute of the second half. Cutting down the right side of the fan, she maneuvered into the middle of the field for a high-left finish and the Sea Gulls first goal of the game.
Just over a minute later, Baer was back at it with another unassisted finish, this time rolling around the backside of the net and tight around the crease for a swift low shot past Mustang goalkeeper Leanne Bittner.
Keeping the trend of goals every minute, senior Kate Haker found herself with a free-position opportunity on the far-right side of the fan at the 26:30 mark. Crashing into the middle, a shot low by Haker was blocked by Bittner, but the deflection took an angle through her legs and into the back of the net.
Haker added one more in the run on a curl around the net for the left-handed finish, but the Mustangs would finally answer in the second half, killing the run with a goal at the 11:09 mark to extend the lead to two, 8-6.
Stevenson looked to run out the clock as it played out scoreless both ways for the next five minutes, but Salisbury would strike again. With another free-position attempt, this time for junior Samantha Duranti, a bouncer into the left side of the net was good enough to keep the Sea Gulls moving on their comeback.
Failing to capitalize on an offensive opportunity to tie the game up in with two minutes remaining, Salisbury was looking for one last chance as Stevenson killed time on the back end of the field. Passing the ball back to the goalkeeper, the Gulls found the mistake they were looking for, as Bittner mishandled the pass. Trying to pull the ball back into the crease, Bittner was just a tad slow on the pickup, as Baer rushed in to hit her stick pushing the ball into the net to draw the score even, 8-8, and push the game into overtime.
Seeing no scoring action through the first three minutes, Stevenson was the first to capitalize in the second. With 1:54 left, the Mustangs struck following a Sea Gull turnover, but Salisbury wouldn't give up. Stevenson's Taylor Wright, with the ball and looking to clear with 1:27 left, was stick checked by Haker causing the ball to fall loose. Duranti scooped the ball and went the other way, eventually seeing O'Rourke cash in on the game-tying goal to send the game into sudden death.
Winning the opening draw in double overtime, the Gulls only needed 47 seconds to finish off the program-record comeback. Following a Mustang foul, sophomore Gabbi Nieves had the game in her hands with a free-position attempt from the top of the fan. When the whistle blew, Nieves bolted down the middle, stepping to the right past a defender, and flung in a high-right finish for the 10-9 victory.
With the victory, Salisbury extends its home winning streak to 42 games, a streak that has been going on since February 25, 2012. The streak is currently the second best in Division III women's lacrosse history behind the State University of New York at Cortland's current 54-game home streak.
The Gulls are back in action on Saturday, February 28, as they travel to the nation's capital for a matchup against Catholic University of America. First draw is set for 1 p.m.