GENEVA, N.Y. – The No. 2 Salisbury University field hockey team saw its season come to a heartbreaking close on a cold and rainy Saturday afternoon, being edged by No. 3 Tufts University, 1-0, in the NCAA Division III field hockey championship semifinals.
Having defeated No. 6 Ursinus College by the same score in last weekend's quarterfinals, Head Coach Dawn Chamberlin knew the semifinal clash against Tufts would be a close one.
"We knew it was going to be a hard-fought game, and probably a 1-0 game – we were just hoping we would be on the other side. But we left it all on the field, did what we could do, and I think we played really hard."
After battling for 35 minutes, the game remained scoreless, with much of the play in the opening half being contested in the midfield and neither team getting sustained possession in their offensive end. Salisbury (18-2) had a chance to take the lead at the end of first half, earning the only penalty corner of the period just before time expired, but was unable to capitalize.
Tufts (19-2) scored what would be the eventual game-winner in the 60th minute. Working off of one of the Jumbos' seven penalty corners, Tufts' Dominique Zarrella jockeyed for position in front of the cage, collected a rebound off the pads of junior goalkeeper Tressie Windsor and batted the ball out of the air and into the upper-left corner of the goal, just out of Windsor's reach.
Prior to today's game, the Sea Gulls held a 3-0 all-time record against the Jumbos. Their last two victories against Tufts were 1-0 decisions.
"We played phenomenal defense," Chamberlin said. "When you get to this point, sometimes you need a little luck, and our luck ran out today. But we played hard, we played well, we had a great season, and I'm very, very proud of what they've accomplished."
Windsor matched her career-high seven saves, and the Sea Gull offense forced Tufts goalkeeper Emily Polinski to make three saves. The Jumbos had 12 shots on the day; Salisbury finished with seven shots and three penalty corner opportunities.
Tufts will face top-ranked Messiah College on Sunday afternoon in the national championship game.
The game marked the end of the stellar careers of Salisbury's six seniors – Annah Brittingham, Hannah Miller, Casie Preisch, Becca Rinaca, Abbey Shobe and Jessie Todd. Together, they compiled an impressive 68-10 record, earned four-straight Capital Athletic Conference championships, and advanced to the NCAA Division III field hockey semifinals in three of their four seasons.
"The senior class has left a great legacy," Chamberlin said. "They've certainly been super role models for the young team that we have. The senior class set the bar high."