GRANTHAM, Pa. – The seventh-ranked Salisbury University field hockey team suffered its first loss of the season, 3-2, in the final moments of its game against No. 8 Messiah College on Saturday afternoon.
In a highly competitive contest that saw few shots and even fewer penalty corners, the Sea Gulls (4-1) took an early 2-0 lead against the Falcons. The first score, just six minutes in, came as senior forward Becca Rinaca collected the ball from a scrum in the circle and found the back of the lower-left corner of the cage.
Just over two minutes later, a perfectly executed corner made it a two-goal game; junior forward Natalie Wilkinson inserted the ball to freshman Arielle Johnston, who quickly settled it at the top of the circle and ripped a shot past Messiah goalkeeper Shelby Landes. It was Johnston's first career goal.
Messiah (3-1) would cut Salisbury's lead to one in the 28th minute, firing a shot from the edge of the circle and scoring. In the 46th minute, Messiah earned a penalty stroke; the shot clanged on the back-right post in the cage, past junior goalkeeper Tressie Windsor, to tie the game at 2-2.
Salisbury continued to play at a high level on both sides of the field, but in the 69th minute, Messiah scored its third and final goal of the contest. The Sea Gulls earned one last penalty corner as time expired but were unable to convert the try.
Overall, Messiah had a 12-7 advantage in shots, but it was Salisbury who had the 4-2 edge in penalty corners.
After playing five games in 10 days, the Sea Gulls now have a much-deserved week off before taking the field in their new and improved Sea Gull Stadium for the first time; Salisbury will face Cabrini University on Saturday, September 17 at 6 p.m.