SALISBURY, Md. – The No. 5 Salisbury University field hockey team used strong defense and its depth to earn a key early-season victory on Saturday afternoon at Sea Gull Stadium, taking down No. 7 Messiah College, 3-0.
The battle of top-10 teams, programs which have met twice in the national championship game, was all one would expect with possession and statistics even throughout the first half.
Salisbury (4-0) held a narrow 8-6 edge in shots in the first half, while each team had four penalty corner opportunities, but it was the Sea Gulls who broke through with the only score of the half. Summer Washburn had the ball on the left wing, just inside the circle, and time to wind up. The junior ripped a shot which deflected off a Messiah defender's stick and into the top-right corner of the cage for the 1-0 lead.
Salisbury junior goalkeeper Rachel Clewer made two saves in the first half. Sophomore Amanda Cooper also had a defensive save in the first 35 minutes while the defensive unit, including sophomore Breck Sullivan and senior Katie Hastings, helped preserve the 1-0 lead until the break.
The Sea Gull defense has opened the season with a team goals-against average of just 0.25, allowing only one goal in 280 minutes of play.
In the second half, Salisbury's depth came through as Head Coach Dawn Chamberlin routinely sent in three and four substitutes at a time, keeping her players fresh. The changes resulted in Messiah (3-1) struggling to get the ball cleanly through the midfield and into the Salisbury defense for sustained periods of time.
Clewer saw just four Falcon shots in the second half, turning each away for six saves in the game, to collect her first 70-minute shutout in the cage this season.
Freshman Yumi Kim got the Sea Gulls an insurance goal in the 58th minute, taking a Washburn feed on the left side and ripping a shot, through traffic, into the right side of the goal for a 2-0 Salisbury advantage.
Salisbury finished with a 15-10 edge in shots, putting 11 on target. Messiah keeper Molly Gebrosky turned away seven while defender Sara Brooks had a defensive save.
Salisbury will return to action on Wednesday night when the Sea Gulls travel to Catholic University of America.