Riding a two-game winning streak heading into Wednesday’s match-up, the Salisbury University field hockey team returned home to face a John’s Hopkins team that had not scored a goal against the Sea Gulls in four-straight games.
One streak came to the end on Wednesday night.
Salisbury (5-1) used a second half surge to extend its winning streak to three games, downing the Blue Jays 2-1.
The offense pressured the John’s Hopkins’ defense throughout the first half, but ultimately came away with no goals to show. Salisbury posted 10 shots and failed to convert on seven penalty corners heading into the break.
The inability to finish those scoring chances was the story for the Sea Gulls in the first half. SU head coach Dawn Chamberlin said the offense isn’t gelling as a unit.
“We are not clicking on offense as we should and we are not finishing the play,” Chamberlin said. “We should’ve had probably at least another four or five goals in that game and we’re just not finishing. That’s the big thing right now, we have to finish our shots.”
As time expired in the first half, a Salisbury foul allowed a penalty corner chance for the Blue Jays. SU goalkeeper Tressie Windsor stopped an elevated shot with a swatting pad save and the Sea Gull defense broke up three John’s Hopkins’ penalty corners to head to the break scoreless.
The maroon and gold quickly took to the offensive zone early in the second half, coming away with three penalty corners of their own. The third time was the charge for Salisbury, as a deflection off the stick of senior forward Natalie Wilkinson went over the head of Blue Jay goalkeeper Greta Helvie and into the back of the cage for a 1-0 SU lead.
“Luck,” Wilkinson said when asked how she scored. “Every corner we huddle up at the top and it gathers myself a little bit.”
Wilkinson’s fourth goal of the seasons ties her for first on the team. One of only four seniors on a Sea Gull roster full of mostly underclassmen, Wilkinson’s 25 career goals lead active SU players.
“She’s just a spark out there,” Chamberlin said. “She’s probably one of our fastest players on the field and she kept us in the game with her runs. I’m very proud of what she’s been doing for us out there.”
In the 50th minute, John’s Hopkins found the back of the cage to tie the game at one. One of only six shots for the Blue Jays throughout the night, forward Clare Kavanagh’s team-leading seventh goal of the season went through a flurry of Salisbury defenders.
The Sea Gulls answered right back with a goal of their own just 21 seconds later. After play resumed following the goal, sophomore forward Tara Daddio raced down the field and fired the ball just to the right of Helvie to give Salisbury a 2-1 lead.
“Honestly I drew a blank,” Daddio said. “I just focused on the ball and tried to look up too. I just put it to the corner and it went through.”
The Sea Gulls kept the ball in their offensive zone for the majority of the rest of the game. The Salisbury defense limited John’s Hopkins to one goal on six shots faced.
“Disappointing that they got a goal but it’s going to happen once in a while,” Chamberlin said. “As long as we come out on the good end, we’ll give it up now.”
A Sea Gull defense that has made it difficult for opposing offenses to find the back of the net, the unit has allowed only three goals in the first six games of the season.
“I think we’ve been strong on defense when their forwards are coming at us really fast,” sophomore defender Jillian Hughes said. “We break it down, look at the play and just try to stop them and stop any pass that they can get.”
UP NEXT: Salisbury heads to the state of New Jersey to take on No. 3 TCNJ on Saturday at 6 p.m. The Sea Gulls defeated the Lions 3-1 in Sea Gull Stadium last season.