By Chris Mackowiak
2016 brought another successful season for the Salisbury University field hockey team under head coach Dawn Chamberlin. The team carried the torch for the SU fall sports in 2016, winning their fourth-straight Capital Athletic Conference (CAC) title and marching all the way to the NCAA National Semifinals in Geneva, N.Y.
Defense was once again a key to success for the Sea Gulls, accumulating a 0.55 GAA and allowing no goals over a one month stretch towards the end of the season. This feat included shutouts in their two CAC Tournament games and within the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament.
Overall, Salisbury put together an 18-2 (6-0 CAC) season with the only two losses at eventual National Champions Messiah and in the National Semifinals vs. Tufts. In 2017, expectations are once again high for this squad as the Sea Gulls will look for their first national title since 2009.
Despite losing veteran talent in six starters, the Sea Gulls’ depth is on display from 2016. Senior goalie Tressie Windsor returns to lead the defense, while senior forward Natalie Wilkinson has the most goals under her belt among returners.
One common theme over her 30 seasons at the helm for Coach Chamberlin is a tough strength of schedule over the course of the regular season, drawing some of the best talent across the country. 2017 is much of the same.
Salisbury draws four NCAA Tournament teams from last season, including another match-up with National Champion Messiah but this time in Sea Gull Stadium. If they can stay the course, the Sea Gulls will once again be deserving of the national praise once the postseason rolls around.
Below The Flyer names and takes a deeper look into the five match-ups to watch for on Salisbury’s 2017 schedule. The rest of the Sea Gulls’ schedule follows at the bottom of the article.
Sept. 1 – vs. King’s College (Pa.) at Misericordia Tournament (Dallas, Pa.)
- 2016: 13-7 (5-2 MAC Freedom); MAC Freedom Champions
- Fell 2-1 to Franklin & Marshall in NCAA First Round
- 2016 result vs. SU: 5-1 SU victory
For the second-straight season, Salisbury will make the journey into Dallas, Pa. for the annual Misericordia Tournament. The Sea Gulls’ first game of 2017 features King’s College, which SU defeated handedly 5-1 in 2016. By the end of this tournament last season, SU outscored opponents 10-1.
While on paper Salisbury should win this opening match-up, there is much to desire in this game. It will display the players stepping up to fill those six vacant starting roles to begin 2017 and how the chemistry is forming for SU.
King’s College is also a team not to easily overlook as MAC Freedom Champions and nearly advancing into the NCAA Second Round. A result that is not ‘commanding’ could mean an uneasy feeling headed into Salisbury’s first home stand on Sept. 6.
Sept. 9 – vs. Messiah College
- 2016: 22-1 (7-0 MAC Commonwealth); MAC Commonwealth Champions
- 2016 NCAA National Champions
- 2016 result vs. SU: 3-2 Messiah home win
Back on Sept. 10, Salisbury was off and running at Messiah with two goals in the first nine minutes of the game. However, that was all SU saw the rest of the day as Messiah scored three unanswered goals to get the 3-2 win over the Gulls.
Both squads made it to Championship Weekend in Geneva, N.Y., but fans looked for a different tale last season, one that involved a Messiah-Salisbury rematch in the National Championship Game. Things did not pan out that way.
This time around the two teams meet in Sea Gull Stadium with SU looking for a different result. For either side, a win in this match goes a long way as a resume builder down the line in seeding for the NCAA Tournament. Also, for field hockey fans alone, this will be a fun one to watch.
Sept. 16 – at Cabrini University
- 2016: 12-8 (6-1 CSAC); CSAC Champions
- Lost 7-5 vs. Trinity (Conn.) in NCAA First Round
- 2016 result vs. SU: 6-0 SU home win
In between mid-week home matches, the Sea Gulls travel outside Philadelphia to Cabrini, a familiar foe. SU defeated the Colonial States Athletic Conference (CSAC) Champions easily 6-0 in Salisbury, Md. in 2016.
However, this Cavalier squad has some NCAA Tournament experience in a shootout loss vs. Trinity in the NCAA First Round. It will also mark Salisbury’s first road contest after a three-week home stand.
Despite the result on paper from a year ago, it marks an enticing match-up between conference champions. It will also tell fans much about how this Salisbury team handles road contests.
Sept. 23 – at The College of New Jersey (TCNJ)
- 2016: 16-4 (6-0 NJAC); NJAC Champions
- Lost 1-0 vs. Franklin & Marshall in NCAA Second Round
- 2016 result vs. SU: SU home victory 3-1
TCNJ received a first round bye in the NCAA Tournament last season, but the Lions fell victim to Franklin & Marshall’s run into the Quarterfinals. Up until that point, TCNJ’s resume is one that is hard to pass up.
The Lions grabbed the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) Championship while also only falling in four match-ups. Other than the NCAA loss, the three other losses were to Salisbury, Cabrini and Messiah; not too shabby of a list.
This season Salisbury travels up to Ewing, N.J. to try and gain a similar result vs. the Lions as in 2016. In their 3-1 victory, the Sea Gulls were dominant early on, scoring all three goals in the first 32 minutes. It will be another fun match-up for field hockey fans out there.
Sept. 30 – at Christopher Newport University
- 2016: 14-5 (4-2 CAC); CAC Semifinalist
- 2016 result vs. SU: 2-1 OT SU home win
As a mirror image to many other sports, CNU vs. Salisbury could mark the CAC Champion for 2017. It looked as though the two would meet in the 2016 CAC Championship until Mary Washington had different thoughts in the CAC Semifinals.
The Captains nearly gave SU their second loss of the regular season when they pushed the Sea Gulls to overtime at home. It was then-sophomore Madison Angulas that came up with the big play to keep Salisbury rolling along for the 2-1 win.
In the CNU-Salisbury CAC rivalry, fans can already assume that same dramatics are in store for this edition. A loss here for SU could pave the way for a large pack at the top of the conference after three teams finished tied for second in the CAC at 4-2 last season.
Remaining 2017 Salisbury field hockey schedule (home games in bold):
Sept. 2 – at Misericordia
- 2016: 5-13 (3-4 MAC Freedom)
- 2016 result vs. SU: 5-0 SU road win
Sept. 6 – vs. Stevenson University
- 2016: 5-11 (1-6 MAC Commonwealth)
- 2016 result vs. SU: 5-1 SU road win
Sept. 13 – vs. Washington College
- 2016: 6-11 (3-7 Centennial Conference)
- 2016 result vs. SU: 6-0 SU road win
Sept. 20 – vs. Johns Hopkins University
- 2016: 7-10 (3-7 Centennial Conference)
Oct. 4 – at Catholic University of America
- 2016: 10-7 (6-1 Landmark Conference); fell in Landmark Semifinals
- 2016 result vs. SU: 2-0 SU home victory
Oct. 8 – vs. Frostburg State University
- 2016: 5-13 (0-6 CAC)
- 2016 result vs. SU: 2-0 road SU win
Oct. 11 – vs. Wesley College
- 2016: 5-15 (1-5 CAC)
- 2016 result vs. SU: 7-0 SU road victory
Oct. 18 – at York College (Pa.)
- 2016: 13-6 (4-2 CAC); CAC Semifinalist
- 2016 result vs. SU: SU went 2-0 vs. Spartans in 2016 including CAC Semifinal victory
Oct. 21 – at University of Mary Washington
- 2016: 12-6 (4-2 CAC); CAC Championship appearance
- 2016 result vs. SU: SU went 2-0 vs. UMW in 2016 including CAC Championship win
Oct. 25 – vs. St. Mary’s College of Maryland
- 2016: 5-12 (2-4 CAC); CAC First Round
- 2016 result vs. SU: SU won 4-0 at St. Mary’s