By ETHAN WILT
Featured photo: SU senior middie Allie Hynson battles for a draw control against Catholic. Feb. 24. Emma Reider photo
The Salisbury University women’s lacrosse team overcame an early deficit in the first half to The Catholic University of America, coming out victorious in their home opener 13-9.
Salisbury appeared to be caught off-guard as the CUA Cardinals broke out into an early 3-0 lead in just the first five minutes of the game. The Sea Gulls eventually answered with a goal of their own from junior attacker Courtney Fegan.
The goal did not silence the Cardinals as CUA capitalized off multiple free position shot opportunities and a confused Salisbury defense. CUA junior attacker Nicolette Crisalli found early openings, scoring four of the five goals early on.
SU Head Coach Jim Nestor quickly called a timeout following the fifth goal in an attempt to refocus his team.
“We just have to take care of the ball, and defensively we got out of our man defense and switched to a zone, which was a big factor,” Nestor said. “But it was mainly, again, we gotta do our job offensively, so we’re not playing so much defense.”
The effect on the team was immediately noticeable, as Salisbury came out of the timeout scoring a goal 28 seconds into their next possession. The Sea Gull offense seemed reinvigorated, while the defense began to build confidence off of their change to a zone strategy.
“We were a little shaky the first ten minutes, but then we came all out and worked really well together as a team,” SU junior defender Martha Hutzell. “We put a face guard on [Crisalli] who had scored their five goals they had already, and we got more pressure on the ball.”
“We were able to focus on getting the ball out of the eight, and getting the ball into our attackers sticks so that they could create and make plays happen.”
The Sea Gull offense took over, managing to win almost every draw control from the timeout through the end of the first half to control over time of possession. They were methodical, prodding the Cardinal defense for weak points, and spreading the ball around to different players.
As a result, Catholic University’s defense could not focus on shutting down a specific player on offense allowing SU to thrive. On the next run, the Sea Gulls scored four goals in the five minutes after the timeout, tying up the game.
Salisbury scored seven unanswered goals from seven different Sea Gulls to finish off the half. Despite the slow start, Salisbury led in shots 22-8 over the Cardinals.
Entering the second half, the first ten minutes lacked the explosiveness and scoring seen in the first ten of the first half. Both Salisbury and Catholic’s offenses were running through their entire 90 second possession clocks and coming away with no goals as their respective defenses held strong after adjustments made during halftime.
Salisbury wasn’t going to force anything, so if that meant leaving a possession without a goal, that was fine. Nestor noted little changes after the break other than the players making good decisions and making them count.
The first goal in the second half did not come until 12 minutes in when SU sophomore midfielder Taylor Poole scored. Over the next eight minutes, Salisbury and Catholic would trade goals back and forth with CUA pulling within three goals of the Sea Gulls.
However, Salisbury’s experienced junior midfielder Lindsey Wagner, closed out the game with two more goals on top of the one she had in the first half to record a hat trick in the closing minutes. With those goals, Salisbury had all but locked in a win for their home opener.
Headed into their next game against No. 3 Washington and Lee on March 3, multiple players noted that they need to start games with intensity, not just ten minutes into the game.
“We have been not starting intensity until 20 minutes in, 10 minutes in, but we’re going to have to start from the very beginning and get the first goal, the second goal, so that we can beat teams bigger than this,” senior goalkeeper Gianna Falcone said.