BY CHRIS MACKOWIAK
It was a strong opening week for Salisbury University athletics with nearly all teams starting off their seasons on the right foot.
Following the first week of action, every team is at or above the .500 average as follows:
Field Hockey (CAC): 3-0
Football (NJAC): 1-0
Men’s Soccer (CAC): 1-0
Volleyball (CAC): 2-2
Women’s Soccer (CAC): 1-0
Cross country in the SU Fall Classic: Men’s Team finished first; Women’s Team finished second. Included in the excellent starts to season for teams were individual accolades for five Salisbury athletes, one coming from the NJAC and four coming from the CAC.
On September 2, the Salisbury Women’s Soccer team began their season with a 3-1 win over Meredith in the annual Salisbury University Soccer Classic. In a match marked by tough defense and synchronized offense, the Sea Gulls held a shutout until the later stages of the match.
Junior Center Back Rachel Anderson was named the CAC Defensive Player of the Week for her efforts in the near clean sheet. The Bowie, MD native completed multiple passes out of the back alongside using her body and head to deflect danger away from the defense. The Salisbury defense finished the match having allowed only two corner kicks and four shots on the goal. It is Anderson’s first ever CAC accolade.
The night of September 2 was one of the more memorable football opening games here at SU with the university unveiling the turf field with a ribbon cutting and also reintroducing tailgating to the student population. Added into the air was the high school football game on Friday night with a packed student body in attendance for the top 25 matchup.
Within the first few seconds, that same crowd was erupting on its feet for sophomore wide receiver Sean Rowland as he returned the opening kick return for a 92-yard touchdown. Alongside his other successes on the field during the team’s opening 34-18 win over Albright College, the Upper Marlboro, MD native was named the NJAC Special Teams Player of the Week. Rowland finished the contest with a 56.Seven yard average per kick return and 186 all-purpose yards; both categories he now leads in the conference. Included in that stat line are his two receptions for 16 yards. It is Rowland’s first NJAC recognition.
The best week in SU Athletics goes to the field hockey team which put up an undefeated record of 3-0 following three games against: Washington College, Misericordia, and King’s College (PA). Sixteen goals went on the board this week with only one goal being scored against the Sea Gulls defense.
Part of the potent Salisbury offense was senior forward Becca Rinaca, who was named the CAC Offensive Player of the Week. The Pylesville, MD native was able to net six goals on only 14 shots to push Salisbury on to their undefeated mark. Included in the numbers was the second hat trick of Rinaca’s career vs. Washington College. The three other goals were tallied as two vs. Misericordia and one against King’s College (PA).
In cross country, two Sea Gulls claimed the CAC Athlete of the Week award after top performances at the Salisbury Fall Classic this past week. Following his third place finish in the individual event, Senior Connor Hesselbirg was named to the male athlete award. The native of King’s Park, NY achieved his mark at a time of 26:04. Alongside Hesselbirg, the SU Men’s team went on to take first place over a field that included Navy.
On the women’s side, Junior Alison Schwartz was awarded as the women’s CAC Athlete of the Week. The Phoenix, MD native fought hard in the 6k during unfavorable weather conditions to place third with a time of 23:18. Alongside the Dulaney (MD) graduate’s strong outing, the SU Women’s team placed second overall in the Salisbury Fall Classic.
Coming up this week, only one team is home for the Sea Gulls, and that is the Women’s Volleyball team (2-2). They will be hosting their annual Sea Gull Classic on both Friday and Saturday with matches coming against: McDaniel (9/9, 4pm), Virginia Wesleyan (9/9, 8pm), Marywood (9/10, 11am,), and Elizabethtown (9/10, 1pm).