By CHRIS MACKOWIAK
The thirteenth-ranked Salisbury women’s lacrosse team (9-3, 5-0 CAC) can be a streaky team, finding momentum in games and running with it. In the Saturday afternoon matchup, much of the same continued with three such goal-scoring streaks. Two of which occurred in the second half.
On this April Fool’s Day, Salisbury’s offensive second half success was no laughing matter vs. St. Mary’s College of Maryland (6-7, 2-2 CAC). The Seahawks were the victims of Salisbury’s often dynamic offense late in the game when the Sea Gulls outscored St. Mary’s 8-2 in the final 30 minutes of play.
The contrast of the two halves made it seem as if two separate games were played at Sea Gull Stadium. The Seahawks started the game with a 1-0 lead thanks to a goal from senior middie Erika Kopf to open things up.
After scoring 16 seconds into both of their last two home games, it was not until the 17:58 mark in the first half that the Sea Gulls broke through. Salisbury scored three times over a four-minute stretch to grab the 3-1 lead.
To end out the first half, both teams exchanged two more goals apiece, leading to a 5-3 Salisbury lead at the break. St. Mary’s became a nuisance for the Gulls, especially inside the eight meter fan, going 2-for-6 on free position shots. SU’s defense was forced to make play after play to keep the Seahawk defense away, tallying 14 groundballs and stopping two SMC clears in the first half.
Averaging 11.91 goals per game, the Salisbury offense came alive in the second half. After a goal from St. Mary’s senior attacker Meg Gesner to start the half, the Sea Gulls rattled off five goals over the next 10 minutes of play. Two of which came from sophomore attacker Gabrielle Mongno, who was the leading goal-scorer on the afternoon for Salisbury.
“It was really just the people on the outside of the [12-meter fan] just moving it around quick and us in the middle just trying to get open and pull defenders,” Mongno said.
Junior attacker Lacey Brown scored the lone remaining goal in the game for St. Mary’s. Another Salisbury run of 3-0 meant the end of the hopes for a comeback in the contest. The final ten minutes of play featured a goal from junior attacker Dana King and the Sea Gulls burning time off the clock. SU totaled 17 shots in just the second half.
“Offensively, we had better shot selection [in the second half]…We got cleaner looks, which was a big thing and we moved a lot faster,” SU head coach Jim Nestor said.
The 13-5 Salisbury win showcased the Gulls’ strengths on defense and in the midfield once again. SU saw similar success in their Wednesday win over Wesley within the battle for possession.
The Sea Gulls dominated and controlled on multiple fronts, winning the draw control battle 13-7 and clearing successfully in 17 of 18 chances. Riding the clear also proved successful for Salisbury, halting the Seahawks on five of their 18 opportunities.
“I think [we had success] because we were getting up for our teammates, and we were being open and taking advantage of the space on the field. We were just trying to keep our heads up to find that easy pass,” SU senior defender Kayla Miller said.
Overall, the Salisbury defense slowed down the Seahawks with their physical and stout play. Salisbury accounted for 29 groundballs in the contest compared to St. Mary’s 11. SU junior goalkeeper Gianna Falcone stepped up in the cage in a few key moments to record five saves on 10 shots on goal from St. Mary’s.
“We went to a different defense [in the second half] to put a little more pressure on the ball, which caused more turnovers,” coach Nestor said.
With the win, a tight race continues for the top spot in the Capital Athletic Conference (CAC) between Salisbury and York College (Pa.). Both teams continue to go undefeated in conference play with a potential high-profile April 12 match-up lining up.
The Sea Gulls now look ahead to a road game at Christopher Newport on Wednesday. Salisbury is now on a two-game winning streak following their loss to No. 4 Franklin & Marshall last Sunday.