Early six-goal lead pushes No. 14 Gulls past No. 2 Red Dragons

Early six-goal lead pushes No. 14 Gulls past No. 2 Red Dragons

SALISBURY, Md. – After dropping its lone loss of the season to the State University of New York at Cortland last year, the No. 14 Salisbury University women's lacrosse team proved to be an entirely different squad in 2015, jumping out to a six-goal lead early and holding on for a 13-11 upset over the No. 2 Red Dragons. The victory snaps a 33-game regular-season winning streak by Cortland, while it extends the home winning streak by the Gulls to 45.

It was a huge offensive day for senior Kate Haker and junior Megan Wallenhorst, who both finished with a game-high six points off four goals and two assists. The six points mark a career high for each attacker, while the four goals for Wallenhorst set a new milestone in her career.

With the opening draw playing into the favor of sophomore Kayla Miller, the Gulls wasted no time to put away the first goal. Less than two minutes in, Haker, with the ball behind the goal, found sophomore Hannah Young bolting down the eight-meter fan. Catching a low pass, Young kept it low for a bottom-right finish, igniting momentum that pushed the six-goal stretch for Salisbury over the next 16 minutes.

The next five goals were connected on by Haker and Wallenhorst. Wallenhorst netted on her first before Haker went on a three-goal tear through four minutes of play. Haker's first was an unassisted finish coming off a quick spin around her defender on the left side of the fan, followed by a free-position goal and a goal assisted by Wallenhorst on a cut down the middle of the fan. Wallenhorst capped off the six-goal run, catching a pass from classmate Samantha Duranti from the left side of the fan for a high-right finish.

In a game of runs, Cortland answered with four-consecutive goals of its own to cut the deficit to two by the 5:08 mark of the first half, but the Gulls closed out the half with two more to take an 8-4 lead into the break. Senior Kara O'Rourke connected with Wallenhorst on the first, before Duranti capitalized on a free-position shot with 57 seconds remaining.

The second half saw much more aggressive play by the Red Dragons, along with turning the table on draw controls. Through the first 30 minutes, Salisbury held a 7-6 edge in draws, but it was Cortland who took over after the break, winning 11-of-13.

Seeing the first draw on the restart go to the Dragons, Cortland's Ashley Gentile looked to cut the deficit within the first minute, but freshman goalkeeper Gianna Falcone had an answer, turning away the attempt. Gentile would connect on her next shot, but once again, Salisbury answered seeing Haker finish her fourth of the game on another spin to the inside of the fan for a ripped shot into the left side of the net.

Cortland started to gain some control after winning the next draw control. Looking to cut the lead, the Dragons put together an offensive front that put Falcone to work. Two big saves by Falcone kept Cortland off the board for several minutes, but it would finally connect at the 22:22 mark, triggering a three-goal run that got the Dragons back within one, 9-8.

Failing to win the draw control with just a one-goal lead, the defense of Salisbury locked down. Cortland's Tara Monaghan cut down the middle of the fan looking to tie the game for the first time since the opening draw, but sophomore Kieran Kelleher rushed in for the stick check, forcing the turnover and scooping the loose ball. Sending the ball the other way, the turnover was transitioned into a Haker-Duranti connection to snap the three-goal run by the Dragons.

Wallenhorst and O'Rourke took over from there, as the two combined for the next three goals to spread the score to 13-8 with 7:14 remaining, but Cortland wasn't giving up just yet. Although the Sea Gulls' defense caused three more turnovers and Falcone pulled in another save, the Red Dragons found the back of the net three more times, but the deficit was too much to overcome in the closing minutes.

Cortland connected on its final goal with 40 seconds left and had an opportunity to cut its deficit to one by winning the draw control, but a team effort by sophomore Gabbi Nieves and Kelleher forced the final turnover and sent the ball the other way while the clock ticked to zero.

Kelleher guided the defense with game highs in caused turnovers and ground balls with three apiece, while Nieves and Miller forced two turnovers each.

Falcone collected her fourth win in the net, playing all 60 minutes and turning away seven shots.

The women will now take the road to Lancaster, Pennsylvania to take on the top team in the country, Franklin & Marshall College, on Wednesday, March 25. The Sea Gulls went 2-0 against the Diplomats last season, defeating them in the regular season before ending their season in the regional finals of the national tournament. First draw is set for 7 p.m., on Tylus Field.

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