SALISBURY, Md. – Seniors Shannon Carta and Ashton Wheatley came up big in the final two minutes helping the No. 1 Salisbury University women's lacrosse team battle past No. 4 Franklin & Marshall College, 9-8, Sunday afternoon in the annual Pink Game at Sea Gull Stadium.
After two goals within a minute of each other by Franklin & Marshall (6-1), Salisbury found itself tied, 8-8, with less than seven minutes remaining. The Diplomats' Emily Everdell would find an opportunity to take the first lead of the game for F&M with 4:51 left on the clock, but Wheatley would turn away the low, right shot for her fourth save of the game. With the ball loose, junior defender Dominique DiPino would draw the foul on F&M's Mary Mitchell giving the Sea Gulls (8-0) back the possession.
With 2:10 remaining, Carta came across the fan looking for a quick shot past Diplomats' goalkeeper Kelsey Hoffman, but received a check in the back drawing a yellow card on Caroline Doran. With a free-position attempt for the senior, Carta charged down the middle for a low, left shot to give Salisbury the lead with two minutes left in regulation.
Less than a minute later, F&M saw its last chance to bring the score even after a foul by senior defender Meghan Toomey gave the Diplomats a free-position attempt. Emily D'Erasmo lined up on the right side of the fan for the attempt, firing a low bouncer toward the senior goalkeeper. Wheatley, without hesitation, swung her stick low for the quick rejection and scoop to send the ball the other way.
Salisbury started the game the same way it ended - in impressive fashion - scoring just 1:23 into the game. After a foul drew the play dead, junior attacker Kate Haker shot a low ball through the keeper's legs on a free-position attempt to give the Sea Gulls the early 1-0 lead.
Junior attacker Shelby Nemecek helped SU to a quick three-goal lead, scoring back-to-back goals just three minutes apart. For the first goal, Nemecek sliced down the middle, receiving a pass from senior attacker Katelyn Blondino from the back left side. In similar fashion, the Marriottsville, Md., native recorded the second goal down the middle, catching a pass from Haker on the left side of the fan.
F&M answered back with its first goal with 13:21 remaining in the half, but an unassisted goal by junior midfielder Bethany Baer, a minute later, would keep the three-goal cushion for the Sea Gulls.
The Diplomats found the back of the net two more times before the end of the half to get within one of SU, 4-3, but Carta and Nemecek would hook up for one more Salisbury goal with 27 seconds remaining. Carta made her way around the backside of the net, while Nemecek came cutting in from the left side of the fan. Carta made a quick feed to Nemecek for the shot and a 5-3 lead to take in at the half.
For the half, Salisbury outshot F&M, 14-7, while the Sea Gulls held the edge in draw controls, 5-4.
The Diplomats struck first to start the second half, just 20 seconds after the opening draw, but goals by Nemecek and Baer would give SU a 7-4 lead with 18 minutes remaining in the game. Junior attacker Kara O'Rourke connected on passes for both goals, as the junior fed passes to Nemecek and Baer on middle cuts for quick shots.
After a two-goal run by Franklin & Marshall to get the score to 7-6, Salisbury would answer back with 9:30 left. Sophomore attacker Megan Wallenhorst ripped a shot ending in a deflection, but with a loose ball, Baer made the scoop and a quick shot for the goal.
With an 8-6 lead for the Sea Gulls, the Diplomats would record two more goals before Carta and Wheatley would put on the finishing touches for the victory.
The offense was paced by Nemecek and Baer with four and three goals, respectively, while O'Rourke led the team in assists with two. Salisbury won seven of the 19 draw controls, as junior defender Laura Maskell won a team-high five. The Sea Gulls outshot the Diplomats, 25-17, putting 15 on goal.
The Salisbury defense caused nine turnovers through 60 minutes, led by Baer and sophomore midfielder Samantha Duranti with three and two, respectively. Baer also picked up a game-high three groundballs, while Carta, Blondino and Toomey scooped two apiece.
Wheatley totaled five saves for the game while recording her seventh victory of the season. Facing 110 shots through seven games, the senior holds a 6.38 goals-against average.
With the victory, Salisbury has now tied the program-record home winning streak at 32. The previous record started against Christopher Newport University on Feb. 22, 2007, and ended against Colby College on March 24, 2009.
The annual "Lax for a Cure" for the fight against breast cancer proved a success, as Salisbury raised $1,900 during the event. The amount accumulated tops last year's total by $400.
The women take the field for their next contest on Wednesday, March 26, as the Sea Gulls take on No. 12 Colby at Sea Gull Stadium. First draw is set for 4 p.m.