BY ZACH GILLELAND
The Salisbury men’s and women’s soccer teams are just one win away from heading to the Capital Athletic Conference (CAC) Championship game. The Sea Gulls staved off elimination in the first round, defeating York and Penn State – Harrisburg.
After disappointing seasons a year ago, both teams headed into each of their tournaments unbeaten in their previous two and three games respectively. Below, The Flyer analyzes each team’s match-ups coming Wednesday evening.
Women’s Soccer: at No. 3 Frostburg State (Wednesday, 6 p.m.)
Following a 1-6 start to the season, the Sea Gulls (10-9, 8-2 CAC) head into the tournament as the third seed. SU shut out the Lady Lions 3-0 for the team’s first win in the postseason since 2013 and will travel to Frostburg, Md. to face the two-seeded Bobcats. Frostburg defeated Salisbury 1-0 on Oct. 21, holding the Sea Gulls scoreless on 13 shots.
The SU offense has scored nine goals in its previous two contests after being shut out by CNU and FSU. Senior forward Ruthie Lucas has scored three goals in those wins, and her 11 goals on the season are fourth in the conference.
That Sea Gull offense will be tested early and often by the Bobcat defense that allows just 1.07 goals-per-game. Led by a two-goalie rotation, Frostburg has recorded clean sheets in its past four games.
A defensive battle could be in the mix as both teams sit third and fourth in the conference in goals-against average (GAA). The offenses will be relied upon by the strikers, as Lucas and Bobcats’ forward Brooke Shehade have combined for 21 goals on the season.
A wild card to the match-up is the loss of SU senior midfielder Carliane LaGuerre. The senior received a red card in the 78th minute of Saturday’s match against Penn State – Harrisburg. LaGuerre is an important playmaker in the middle of the offensive formation, and her absence will force SU Head Coach Kwame Lloyd to turn to his bench.
Men’s Soccer: at No. 1 Christopher Newport (Wednesday, 5 p.m.)
Heading to Newport News, Va. for the second time this season, the Sea Gulls (8-8-3, 4-3-2 CAC) face the top-seeded Captains (13-2-1, 8-0-1 CAC). Salisbury was the only team in the CAC that did not lose to CNU, drawing at one after a goal by SU midfielder Alex Eiben equalized the game in the 65th minute.
The Sea Gulls are fresh off a thrilling first round match-up against York. Falling behind after a Spartan goal, a penalty kick by senior defender Nick Carrington in the 58th minute tied the game.
Scoreless after two overtime periods, the game came down to penalty kicks. Gridlocked at seven in the shootout, SU junior goalkeeper Trevor Brookhart scored for himself and then saved a shot from York midfielder Aiden Wisley to send SU to the semifinal game.
Salisbury sees its second semifinal game in three seasons. Last season, the maroon and gold missed the playoffs a season removed from winning the CAC Championship.
CNU comes into the match unbeaten in its previous 13 matchups, shutting out four opponents. The defending CAC Champions are third with a 0.98 GAA.
Brookhart will again take a tough test, facing a Captain team that averages a conference-best 3.88 goals-per-game—nearly a goal and a half more than the next team. Leading CNU is the duo of Jimmy Grace and Stephen Durbin, who are second and third in the CAC with 13 and 12 goals respectively.
The Salisbury defense holds the lowest mark in the conference with a 0.89 GAA. Behind an experienced senior defensive unit, the SU defense allowed CNU to one goal for just the third time all season.
In what could be a defensive match throughout, the Sea Gulls may turn to Brookhart for another strong performance.