SALISBURY, Md. – The No. 1 seeded Salisbury University men's soccer team will play host to No. 4 seeded University of Mary Washington in a Capital Athletic Conference tournament semifinal matchup on Wednesday, November 4; kickoff is set for 2:30 p.m.
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How we got here
The Gulls come into Wednesday's matchup having earned a first-round bye in the tournament after winning the regular-season CAC title for the fifth-straight season. In the regular season, Salisbury went 11-3-3 while going undefeated in CAC regular-season play, going 6-0-2.
How they got here
After going 12-5-1 (5-3-1 CAC) in regular season play, the Eagles earned the fourth seed in the tournament and hosted No. 5 seed Christopher Newport University. After a scoreless 110 minutes, the game went into penalty kicks. After a shootout that needed 25 kicks to be decided, the Eagles outlasted the Captains, 9-8. This marks the first time Mary Washington has advanced to the CAC semifinals since the 2012-13 season when it came to Salisbury and took down the Gulls in double overtime, 1-0.
Scouting Mary Washington
Much like the Sea Gulls, Mary Washington has used a balanced attack all season, as it has four players tied for the team lead in goals with four. Mike Bennett, one of those four goal scorers also leads the team in assists with three helpers this season; tied with Bennett for the lead in assists is Robert Tata. Junior Riley Fischer will be another player to watch as he has scored four goals on the season, with all four being game-winning goals.
Defensively, Matt Spencer has been the man between-the-pipes all season for the Eagles and leads the CAC in shutouts, blanking 10 opponents on the season. Spencer also sits near the top of the CAC in other categories such as save percentage (fifth, .800) and goals-against average (fourth, 0.79). The backline in front of Spencer is a veteran bunch with members such as Guy Cross and Bennett, who can both produce in the offensive end as well.
The last time we met
The last time these teams squared off was on October 17 when Salisbury traveled to Fredericksburg, Virginia to take on the Eagles. Salisbury got two first-half goals and two more in the early stages of the second half to go up 4-0. Mary Washington struck in the 71st and again in the 78th to close out the scoring and give Salisbury the 4-2 victory. In that game, Nathaniel Eiben came away with his first two career goals, including the game winner.
As of late, Salisbury has been playing some of its best team soccer all season. In the Gulls' last four games they have scored seven goals, with all seven goals being assisted. The last time Salisbury scored a goal that was unassisted was against Mary Washington in the previous meeting, as the Sea Gulls still managed two assists in the four-goal performance.
The winner of this game will advance to the CAC championship game on Saturday, November 7. If Salisbury advances, it would host the championship game. If Mary Washington moves on, it would host the game only if No. 6 seed St. Mary's College of Maryland takes down No. 2 seed York College of Pennsylvania. Whoever wins the CAC championship game receives an automatic berth into the NCAA postseason tournament.