By ZACH GILLELAND
Following its first home-opening loss in the new millennium to defending National Champion and first-ranked Messiah College, the Salisbury University field hockey team had an opportunity to hit the reset button after a nail-biting finish.
Facing fellow Eastern Shore counterpart Washington College, the Sea Gulls (3-1) used a dominant second half to take down the Shorewomen 3-0.
Salisbury had numerous opportunities on the offensive end in the first half, tallying 10 shots but only coming away with one goal.
That goal coming 10 minutes into the game off the stick of sophomore forward Arielle Johnston. The sophomore, on a penalty stroke, sent a laser low and right into the corner of the cage to give SU a 1-0 lead.
“We do [penalty strokes] in practice all the time and I know where I’m going every time,” Johnston said.
Washington College goalkeeper Morgan Domanico turned out a solid performance in the cage, saving seven shots in the first half and 11 in total. Salisbury consistently put up the shots, but SU head coach Dawn Chamberlin said the team could not finish their opportunities.
“I think we came out really flat in the first half,” Chamberlin said. “We didn’t have that intensity and passion that we needed to have and that showed in the fact that we only had one goal on the board.”
The Sea Gulls picked up the intensity in the second half, peppering the Shorewomen defense with 14 shots. Five minutes into the half, sophomore forward Rachel Domanico found the back of the cage with an assist from Emily Lemanski.
The reigning Capital Athletic Conference (CAC) Player of the Week’s fourth goal of the season extended the Salisbury lead to two. Last season in her freshman campaign, Domanico tallied three goals in 16 appearences.
“Emily was coming around the baseline and I basically set up on the stroke line,” Domanico said. “We made eye contact and I connected the pass.”
Freshman forward Jenna Partilla put the Gulls up by three in the 54th minute. Lemanski’s shot from the left wing bounced off the post, allowing Partilla to collect the rebound and score.
The forward, who has started all four games this season, scored the first goal of her Salisbury career.
Washington College struggled on the offensive side, firing only three shots throughout the game with all coming in the first half. The Shorewomen had its best opportunities in the first half, but a few quick saves by SU goalkeeper Tressie Windsor kept them off the board.
Midway through the first half, a shot by Shorewomen forward Emily Pantazes beat Windsor but was saved by a diving Jillian Hughes. Hughes’ stick caught the ball just before it crossed the line and into the cage.
“It was about to go in and I tried as hard as I could for it not to go in,” Hughes said. “I got lucky, everyone got lucky.”
A mainstay in the defensive unit and part of a strong sophomore class for the Sea Gulls, Hughes has started all 24 games in her career.
A better performance for SU in the second half, the Sea Gulls did not allow a shot. The maroon and gold stayed in firm control of possession throughout the half and limited Washington College’s offensive opportunities.
“They were happy with their performance in the second half,” Chamberlin said. “We really showed what we are capable of doing but we’ve got to be able to play for 70 minutes, 35 is not going to cut it for us. We’ve got to come out strong from the start and continue and hold that intensity level for the entire game.”
UP NEXT: Salisbury travels to Radnor, Pa. to take on Cabrini University on Saturday at noon. The Sea Gulls defeated the Cavaliers 6-0 last season.
In post-game interview video, sports editor Chris Mackowiak assisted with camera operation.