SALISBURY, Md. – The No. 2 Salisbury University women's lacrosse team opened its Capital Athletic Conference schedule with a 14-7 win over the University of Mary Washington, extending its conference winning streak to 88 games, including postseason play. Minus postseason action, the Sea Gulls have won 66-consecutive contests in conference play, putting them two wins shy of tying the all-time Division III record for most consecutive conference victories in regular season play.
It was the Salisbury (8-0, 1-0 CAC) defense that shined brightest, with the Sea Gulls clamping down on the Mary Washington (6-5, 2-1 CAC) attack. The Sea Gull defense has played well all season for Head Coach Jim Nestor, but dominated the action against Mary Washington. The entire team, starting in the Salisbury offensive zone, pushed the Eagles out of their comfort zone and forced 23 Mary Washington turnovers in the contest. Senior Alyssa Hardesty and sophomore Bethany Baer led the way with three caused turnovers each.
Mary Washington's Keller Torrey came into today's contest with 25 goals, but was isolated by the Sea Gull defense, often clouded by a host of Salisbury defenders. Torrey netted three goals in the contest for the Eagles, but the rest of the offense was stymied. For the first time this season, freshman Allison Toomey saw extensive time on the field for Nestor and was effective in shutting down the Eagle attackers. While the younger Toomey sister didn't light up the statsheet, she was at the top of the zone in the defensive third, clogging potential passing routes for the Eagles to move the ball.
Junior Meghan Toomey, along with seniors Hardesty and Kat Gartner, and sophomores Dominique Dipino and Laura Maskell held the Eagles to four goals under their season scoring average. Helping back in the defensive zone were midfielders Baer, senior Kara Koolage, sophomore Hayden Hutzell and freshman Katelin Talbert, along with attackers Lauren Feusahrens, Shelby Nemecek and Samantha Duranti.
In the offensive zone, the Sea Gulls had two distinctly different games, the first 15 minutes of the contest and then the remaining 45 minutes. Salisbury jumped out to an early lead when Baer put home a free-position shot just 27 seconds into the contest. Half a minute later, senior Katie Bollhorst scored her lone goal of the afternoon, which was followed by Baer's second goal of the afternoon just 50 seconds later to give the Sea Gulls an early 3-0 lead. This was all before Mary Washington had possessed the ball for the first time in the contest.
Halfway through the first half, Bollhorst picked up her second yellow card of the contest, which forced her to miss the remainder of the contest. With the catalyst of the offense on the sideline, there was a noticeable difference in spacing and ball movement for the Sea Gulls. The senior from Severna Park, Md., did add two assists to go with her only goal, which moves her into fourth-place on the program's all-time points list, passing Kim Cudmore (2007-10).
The Sea Gulls had a commanding 6-1 lead at the time of Bollhorst's disqualification. That lead was widened to 8-1, before holding a 10-4 lead at the half.
The tone of the second half was immediately set by junior goalie Ashton Wheatley, who came out of the crease to intercept a Torrey pass that was intended to set up the Eagles' first possession of the half behind the cage. Throughout the contest, if the Mary Washington offense was able to find a way through the Sea Gull defense, the Cambridge, Md., native was there to stop them, turning away five Eagle shots to pick up the victory in the cage.
Baer led the Salisbury attack with three goals on the day. Koolage, Nemecek and sophomore Kate Haker each added a pair of goals for the Sea Gulls.
Salisbury outshot the Eagles 35-17 in the contest and held a 22-17 advantage in ground balls. Mary Washington held a 15-8 advantage in draw controls but were unable to capitalize on the ball control advantage.
The Sea Gulls look to pull closer to the College of Notre Dame of Maryland's all-time record of consecutive conference wins when Marymount (Va.) University travels to Sea Gull Stadium this Wednesday, April 3. That contest is scheduled to begin at 4 p.m.