SALISBURY, Md. – The No. 2 Salisbury University women's lacrosse team takes the field on Saturday, May 3, for the Capital Athletic Conference championship game against No. 13 York College of Pennsylvania. First draw is set for 6 p.m.
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How we got here
The Sea Gulls (17-1, 7-0 CAC) went undefeated in the regular season of the conference for the 12th-straight year, earning them the top spot in the CAC tournament and a first-round bye. In a semifinal match last Sunday against fifth-seeded Christopher Newport University, Salisbury blasted out to an early 10-goal lead and never looked back, downing the Captains, 21-4. Senior Shannon Carta set a new career high in goals scoring five times in the first half, in addition to an assist for a game-high six points. Senior Ashton Wheatley recorded the win in the cage, making three saves in 42:43 of play. With the win, the starting goalkeeper has reached the 60-win mark in her career and continues to separate from the pack in career program leaders in the category.
How they got here
The Spartans went 14-3 through the regular season, 6-1 in the CAC. The record was good enough to earn York the second seed in the conference tournament and a first-round bye. YCP met up with third-seeded University of Mary Washington for a semifinal matchup last Saturday, advancing past the Eagles, 16-13. Senior Erica Mulford led all scorers with six goals and an assist for seven points, while senior Ashley Smith made 13 saves through 60 minutes of protecting the net.
Last time we met
On March 15, Salisbury traveled to Kinsley Field for the regular-season matchup against then-No. 10 York, handing the Spartans their second loss of the season with a 10-3 defeat. YCP jumped out to an early 2-0 lead with goals by senior Kerri Nicolich and junior Sarah Castle, but the Gulls would answer back with seven-consecutive finishes to put the game away. Junior Bethany Baer recorded a game-high three goals, while sophomore Megan Wallenhorst tallied the only two assists for the game and added a goal for three points. Wheatley made 11 saves through 60 minutes of play.
Tale of two teams
Salisbury and York have seen a reoccurring theme as this will be the third-consecutive year the two teams have met up in the conference title game. In the previous two, Salisbury has hosted and claimed both championships, defeating the Spartans on a total score of 30-10. The 2012 title game played competitive in the first half before SU would go on a 13-2 run in the second to seal the victory. Last season, the Sea Gulls took an early lead in the final and never let it go through the entirety of the game.
Battling the Spartans
Since the first meeting between the two squads in 2006, Salisbury has maintained an unblemished record against York, holding an overall record of 12-0. The Sea Gulls have boasted double-digit scores against the Spartans in every game, while the defense has only given up one double-figure game to YCP, in the 2011 season. SU won the contest, 12-10, at Sea Gull Stadium.
Hunt for No. 14
The Sea Gulls have proved dominant in the conference since 2000, bringing home the hardware 13 times. Of the 13 titles, Salisbury has won 11-consecutive years dating back to the 2003 season. Up to this point, the women's lacrosse team has yet to drop a match in the conference during the regular and postseason of play, as it harnesses a 102-game winning streak.
The starting attacker has played a stellar senior season, best of her career to be exact. In her first two seasons donning the maroon and gold, Carta recorded no more than two goals a game. This season, the Annapolis, Md., native has posted five games with three or more goals, setting a new career high last weekend with six finishers against CNU. The senior has 52 points in her 2014 campaign, second best on the team, off 30 goals and 22 assists.
Controlling the draw
The Sea Gulls have been impressive on draw controls this season, winning 207 out of 379. In an effort to control momentum after the first whistle, Salisbury has won 12 of its game-opening 18 draws. Against York in the first meeting this season, SU edged the Spartans, 9-6, in draw controls.
The winner of the CAC championship will earn the conference's automatic qualification into the NCAA Division III tournament, while the runner up will look for an at-large bid for a chance at the national championship. The NCAA selection show will take place on Sunday at 9:30 p.m., on NCAA.com as the teams will await their possible placements in the tournament.