SALISBURY, Md. – The road to championship weekend started up Saturday afternoon for the No. 2 Salisbury University women's lacrosse team, as the Sea Gulls defeated Farmingdale State College, 18-7, in a second-round tilt in the NCAA Division III women's lacrosse tournament at Sea Gull Stadium.
Salisbury (19-1) posted two season highs for the game, taking 40 shots with 31 on goal through 60 minutes of play. The domination on the offensive end pushed the Sea Gulls to their third-highest goal count in a game this season.
The Rams (18-2) looked for early hope, finding the back of the net first after winning the opening draw control. Farmingdale's Janisha Sanchez caught a pass from teammate Christy Thoden to give the Rams the only lead that they would have for the game. Just 40 seconds later, Salisbury would start a seven-goal run that would put away the game.
With 27:09 left in the first half, sophomore Megan Wallenhorst cut down the top of the eight-meter fan, catching a pass from senior Shannon Carta and ripping it past Rams goalkeeper Krista Spagnoletta to move the score even, 1-1.
Less than seven minutes later, sophomore Samantha Duranti chipped in her contribution on a free-position attempt, before junior Shelby Nemecek added her first of three for the day, dodging the defense on the right side for a quick finish outside the crease. Juniors Kate Haker and Bethany Baer threw in two more goals within two minutes of each other, giving the Sea Gulls a 5-1 lead with 13:09 remaining in the half.
Carta added to the lead with back-to-back goals within 38 seconds of one another to cap off the seven-goal run. The senior recorded her first goal after curling around the backside of the net on the left side while being checked in the back by Farmingdale's Sarah Gerner. While falling, Carta shot a low ball into the back of the net. After a yellow card on the crosscheck gave the Sea Gulls a man-up opportunity, the Annapolis, Md., native came right back down to the offensive end with an impressive second goal. With a loose ball in front of the crease that goalkeeper Spagnoletta was in the process of scooping, Carta with one quick motion slid under the ball first and swiftly finished the incredible play for a 7-1 lead.
Farmingdale would score one more time in the second half, but Baer tallied the final finish for the half to give the Sea Gulls an 8-2 lead at the break.
Salisbury outshot the Rams, 22-8, while also edging Farmingdale in draw controls, winning 9-of-11.
The second half started up like the beginning of the game, with the Rams scoring first. Nemecek would soon answer with the first goal of the half for the Sea Gulls, before Farmingdale looked for life in the game drawing the score to 9-4 off a Nicole Marzocca finish.
Halting any Rams attempt to get back into the game were three-consecutive goals by Salisbury, two by Baer and one by Wallenhorst. The Sea Gulls gave up two goals to Farmingdale to end the three-goal run, but put on the final touch of the game with six-straight finishers through 13 minutes of play.
Salisbury saw scoring from eight different Gulls, as Baer led all scorers with a career-high six goals and an assist for seven points. The junior also tied a career high in draw controls, winning seven of the 15 for Salisbury, and picked up a game-high three groundballs.
"She is a smart player and she takes advantage of what the defense gives her as well as her look-away shot which is so great in regards to the goalie having no clue that she is shooting," said Head Coach Jim Nestor. "The same goes for the defensive side of things. She is really the catalyst in that midfield."
The Sea Gulls went a perfect 12-for-12 on clear attempts, while the Salisbury defense limited Farmingdale to just 11 successful clears on 18 tries. The defense caused 11 turnovers of the Rams' 20 total, while more than doubling Farmingdale's groundball pickups, 17-7.
Senior goalkeeper Ashton Wheatley recorded her 18th victory of the season, and 61st of her career, making four saves, forcing two turnovers and scooping two balls in her 55:53 of play.
With the win, the women advance to the regional semifinals in the NCAA Division III tournament where the Sea Gulls will match up against Augustana (Ill.) College. The Vikings defeated Adrian College, 22-14, in second-round play Saturday afternoon at Thorson-Lucken Field.
"We have a week and we are playing Augustana. They are a very good team, a very balanced team and are undefeated, and that is not for no reason," said Nestor. "We already have film broken down so we are ready for that and we are trying to keep the intensity high in our practices."
The game will take place next Saturday, May 17, with the time and location to be determined. Log on to www.suseagulls.com for more information about the game as it becomes available.