SALISBURY, Md. – The No. 6 Salisbury University field hockey team will travel to Newport News, Virginia on Saturday to take on No. 5 Christopher Newport University in the Capital Athletic Conference championship match. The Sea Gulls are in search of their 21st CAC title as they take on the Captains beginning at 6 p.m.
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How we got here
The second-seeded Sea Gulls survived an overtime contest against third-seeded York College of Pennsylvania on Wednesday night in the semifinal round, topping the Spartans, 3-2. Freshman Camryn Dennis scored twice on the night, including the game winner nearly nine minutes into the overtime period. Dennis took a penalty corner insert from senior Natalie Wilkinson and drove a blast into the left side of the cage to end the contest, for her fifth goal of the year and second game winner.
How they got here
The Captains went unblemished through the CAC regular season to earn the top seed and advanced to Saturday's title game with a 1-0 win against fourth-seeded University of Mary Washington. Christopher Newport got the game's only goal off the stick of Courtney Fiest with less than 13 minutes to play in the game. The Captains outshot Mary Washington 10-6 in the contest with CNU goalkeeper Stephanie McKinney making four saves in the shutout victory.
The Sea Gulls hold a 17-4 edge all time against the Captains, having won six of the past seven meetings. In Newport News, Salisbury has won five of the eight all-time meetings.
Last time we met
The Captains claimed the regular season meeting between these two teams, taking a 1-0 victory at Captains Turf Field on September 30. Despite Salisbury outshooting Christopher Newport, 14-10 – including 8-2 in the second half – Courtnie Greene was able to score the game's only goal in the 16th minute, lifting a shot over the top of the defense off a penalty corner. Salisbury goalkeeper Tressie Windsor turned away five shots in the game and McKinney stopped seven, while Brittan Muir made a defensive save for the Captains in the shutout.
Scouting the Captains
Christopher Newport enters Saturday's game riding a 12-match winning streak. The Captains have not lost since taking a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Catholic University of America on September 13. In the 12 matches since, the CNU defense has surrendered just seven goals. Rachael Allshouse is the team's offensive leader with 30 points this season off a team-high 13 goals to go with four assists. Six other Captains have added at least 10 points. McKinney has started all 17 games in goal for Christopher Newport, posting a 0.66 goals-against average which leads the CAC and is fourth in the nation.
Familiar playoff foe
Since the Captains joined the CAC prior to the 2013 season, the teams have met in all but one CAC postseason. This will mark the third CAC championship clash between the teams, with Salisbury winning 1-0 in overtime at CNU in 2013, and 2-1 in overtime at Sea Gull Stadium in 2014. The last postseason meeting between these teams came in the 2015 CAC semifinals when Salisbury picked up a 2-1 victory. That game was also played on November 4.
Making their impact quick
Among the nine players who have scored two or more goals for the Sea Gulls this season, three are freshman, with Dennis leading the way having tallied five goals. Rebecca Lloyd has scored four times and Jenna Partilla has found the back of the net twice. Each has played in 13 of the team's 15 contests, with Patrilla starting 12 and Dennis starting 10 times.
The winner of Saturday's championship game will receive the CAC's automatic berth in the 2017 NCAA Division III Field Hockey Tournament, while the runner up will wait to see if it has earned an at-large bid. The selections for the NCAA tournament will be released late on Sunday, November 5. The tournament begins with opening-round action on Wednesday, November 8.