By Jacob Stolle
What: No. 2 Salisbury University field hockey hosts Kenyon College
When: Saturday, Nov. 12 at 11am
Where: Sea Gull Stadium
How to watch: Online via the Sea Gull Sports Network at http://www.suseagulls.com/
In the second round of the Division III field hockey NCAA tournament, Sea Gull Stadium hosts two conference champions squaring off in the first of two games on Saturday. The second-ranked Salisbury University Sea Gulls (16-1) face the Kenyon College Ladies (15-6).
The Sea Gulls and Ladies meet for the first time since 2009, when the Sea Gulls took down the Ladies 7-0 en route to the programs last national championship. Kenyon will look to bring the overall series even at 1-1 when the two teams face off Saturday.
No. 2 Salisbury University Sea Gulls (16-1)
Flying high on a 12 game win streak including the programs fourth consecutive Capital Athletic Conference (CAC) title, the Sea Gulls will look to continue their dominant play in the national tournament. Since suffering their only loss of the season to Messiah 3-2, the Salisbury field hockey team has outscored opponents 56-5.
The Sea Gulls scoring has punctuated the run for this team throughout the season, averaging 4.6 goals per game, which is forth in Division III. Leading the teams offensive attack are senior forwards Becca Rinaca and Abbey Shobe who have each tallied 15 goals, one assist, and 31 points.
Beyond Rinaca and Shobe, Salisbury still manages to have effective goal production with players such as junior forward Natalie Wilkinson, with 12 goals and five assists, and senior back Annah Brittingham, with eight goals and eight assists.
Lately however, the breakout player for this the Sea Gulls’ offense has been sophomore forward Kristen Yingling. Yingling, who has only made three starts all season, is currently tied for second on the team in assists with seven, and fifth on the team in points with 19, but most of her production has come in the last three games. In the last three matches, Yingling has four goals and three assists, which tallies to 11 of her 19 total points on the season.
Salisbury also boasts a strong defense, ranking second in the country in goals against average with 0.59. The Sea Gulls’ defense is led by junior goalkeeper Tressie Windsor who has not allowed a goal in the last 314 minutes of game time.
SU Head Coach Dawn Chamberlin will look to improve on last seasons’ result, when Salisbury was defeated in the second round against Rochester University 3-2.
Kenyon College Ladies (15-6)
Following an up and down start to the season, the Ladies have come on strong, winning three straight 2-1 overtime thrillers. The run started off with upset victories against Dension University and DePauw University in the North Coast Athletic Conference (NCAC) tournament, and then the team continued on into the NCAA tournament, where they defeated Elizabethtown College on the road in the first round.
While Kenyon has struggled with consistency on offense throughout the season, they have scored in spurts, primarily from the junior duo of Katelyn Hutchinso, and Weezie Foster.
Hutchinson leads the Ladies in all major offensive categories, with 11 goals, seven assists, and 29 points, while Foster is just behind her with 10 goals, three assists, and 23 points. Foster has struggled recently, recording no points in the last six games.
With the offensive void, several players have stepped up for the Ladies, such as junior midfielder Kelsey Trulik, who had the thrilling goal in overtime versus Elizabethtown, and freshman forward Hannah Sklar, who scored the winning goal against Denison in the NCAC conference tournament. While Kenyon has players who can score, their real calling card is on defense, captained by NCAC defensive player of the year and junior goalkeeper Sarah Speroff.
Speroff has been a consistent presence between the pipes during her entire career as a three-time All-NCAC first team selection. The goalkeeper will be facing a difficult challenge on Saturday against Salisbury, who averages 23.6 shots per game.
Speroff is not a stranger to high volume shooters, as exemplified by her shutout match-up against Whittenberg University, where she registered 17 saves with no goals allowed.
The Salisbury University Sea Gulls will look to test Kenyon’s goalkeeper early and often, when they play in a win or go home scenario on Saturday. Salisbury currently rides a 22 game win streak at home in Sea Gull Stadium.
Tune in online at The Flyer after the game Saturday, for a recap of the NCAA Tournament match-up.