By Zach Gilleland
The fourth-ranked Salisbury University field hockey team, despite its success, has had its trouble with the Catholic University of America in recent years. After three-straight losses and four out of the last five, the Sea Gulls finally took down the Cardinals Wednesday night.
The first half was a frustrating one for Salisbury. A common reoccurrence this season, the Sea Gulls (9-1) maintained possession for the majority of the first half and mustered 13 shots on the Catholic defense.
But the goals just weren’t there.
Behind senior goalkeeper Analisa Scott, the Cardinals (6-3) would not budge. Salisbury looked to have its best chance of the half when senior forward Becca Rinaca fired a shot that beat Scott.
However, a diving save by junior defender Kelly Cousoulis kept the Gulls from finding the back of the cage.
The Sea Gulls were unable to capitalize off of nine penalty corners in the first half. A shot by sophomore forward Catherine Sweeney missed just wide with a minute left sending both times to halftime scoreless.
Being held scoreless for the first time this season, the pressure to beat Catholic for the first time in four years looked to be in Salisbury’s head.
“We weren’t playing with any sense of urgency in the first half,” Head Coach Dawn Chamberlin said. “I think the hype of us not beating them and having a curse against them was on their backs. We played not to lose on the first half instead of playing to win.”
The Sea Gulls finally broke through in the second half. Just four minutes in, a Salisbury shot deflected off Scott and allowed sophomore forward Emily Lemanski to score, putting the Gulls on the board for the first time.
Lemanski’s fourth goal of the season provided the spark Salisbury needed.
“Abbey [Shobe] had the ball coming in and couldn’t quite get it in because the defender was there so I finished it off,” Lemanski said. “I knew we needed a goal so I had to get in there.”
Junior forward Natalie Wilkinson added the Sea Gulls second goal of the night. Coming off a penalty corner, Wilkinson redirected a shot from junior midfielder Hannah Miller through the Catholic defense.
Down two goals, the Cardinals were desperate to create chances. Catholic had a penalty corner late, but a jumping save by junior goalkeeper Tressie Windsor kept the Cardinals from making it close.
Windsor provided the Sea Gulls with all three of its saves. Salisbury’s defense has shut-out half of its opponents this season.
“We’re very strong on defense, it was the one place on the field we were still stepping up and doing the things we needed to do and not letting them get good looks and good touches on the ball,” Chamberlin said. “Tressie [Windsor] had some nice saves and we did what we needed to do on defense.”
Salisbury will host York College in CAC action Oct. 12. After finally defeating Catholic, the Sea Gulls can focus on conference play.
“The curse is kind of lifted and we don’t have to focus on that going forward,” Chamberlin said. “For years to come we now know that it’s not something we can’t do.”