By BRAD KELLY
The Salisbury women’s lacrosse team (11-5, 7-1 CAC) could not tame the No. 1 ranked (9-1, 2-0 CAC) TCNJ Lions, losing the contest 6-3. This loss is the second of the week for the Gulls, as they also fell to the No. 7 York (Pa.) Spartans 10-6 on Tuesday.
Even though the score shows a three-goal difference, the game was highly contested from the onset as both teams brought a high level of intensity to the field. The teams traded turnovers on their opening possessions, and it was clear that defense was going to be the theme of the day.
The Lions have outscored opponents by 73 goals in the first period this season, and they jumped out to an early two-goal lead versus the Gulls, thanks to the efforts from freshmen midfielder Allie Gorman. She found the back of the net at the eight-minute mark on a pretty assist from sophomore midfielder Erin Harvey. She then scored the first of four free position goals for the Lions on the day.
Salisbury continued to push the pace on both sides of the ball, though, and answered before the half. Senior midfielder Gabbi Nieves got the Gulls on the board near the three-minute mark, giving her a team-high 30 goals on the season.
After the half, Salisbury tied the game not even a minute into the period on an individual effort from sophomore Lindsey Wagner who scored while falling to the ground. But, the Lions would not be held off the board too much longer, thanks to two more free position goals by senior attacker Mia Blackman, which gave the Lions a 4-2 lead.
The Gulls were aggressive all day on defense, but there is a fine line between physicality and fouling. Salisbury was too physical in the referee’s eyes as the team was called for 45 fouls compared to 17 on TCNJ. More importantly, the Lions won eight free position shots compared to only one for Salisbury.
Salisbury cut the deficit to one halfway into the period on a goal by sophomore Courtney Fegan, her first of the season. Unfortunately, that was the closest the gulls would get to tying the game, as freshman attacker Alex Fitzpatrick iced the game with two goals over the last six minutes.
“The good thing about losing against these teams this week is that we know what to improve,” Nieves said. “Two good teams were on that field today.”
The loss ends the Gulls’ regular season as the team will host a Capital Athletic Conference (CAC) Tournament semifinal matchup on April 22. Even though the regular season ended on a sour note, the team did only drop one game in conference play this season and has won at least 11 games the last two years. The team will now look to the postseason and what lies ahead.
“We did a good job of finally putting on the field what we have been planning in practice,” Nieves said. “We ramped up the intensity today and that is something we can build from.”