By ETHAN WILT
Featured photo: SU senior attacker Dana King drives toward the cage vs. Washington & Lee. March 3. Emma Reider photo
The sixth-ranked Salisbury women’s lacrosse team jumped out to a 2-0 lead early on against eighth-ranked Washington and Lee and never looked back. Led by senior attackers Dana King and Krissy Murphy on offense, and senior goalie Gianna Falcone on defense, the Sea Gulls found success in a physical match-up against the visiting Generals.
Coming off a victory against Catholic University of America the week before, Salisbury emphasized intensity early on and maintained it throughout the game.
Salisbury won the opening draw control, applying pressure on Washington and Lee’s defense for the full 90-second shot clock. While the Sea Gulls failed to connect with the back of the net on their first possession, SU senior midfielder Allie Hynson put the first points on the board just under the ten-minute mark in the first half.
Just over a minute later, Salisbury tallied a second goal, coming from sophomore Emily McQuay off an assist from Murphy.
The Generals added their first points to the board halfway through the half, coming from sophomore attacker Collette Murray. However, the momentum continued on the side of the Sea Gulls.
By the time Murray scored her goal, it was clear the game was shaping up to be a very physical match-up. Salisbury’s defense was tough inside the eight-meter fan.
Confident in their ground ball skills, the Sea Gull defense was not afraid to knock around the Generals’ attackers. While stick checks can be risky so close to the net, the defense worked their magic and got on top of the loose balls throughout the game.
This physicality had its downside, as Washington and Lee had considerably more free position shots than Salisbury did. Not only did they have more shots, but they capitalized on them too, scoring multiple goals from these opportunities.
Seconds before the half concluded, off another free position shot, Washington and Lee’s Collette Murphy found their second goal of the half, sending the game to the break with the Sea Gulls holding a 4-2 lead.
While the Generals took the momentum into halftime, the Sea Gulls were quick to grab it back. Four minutes into the second half, King sent a powerful shot past W&L goalie Hannah Wiltshire into the back of the net, giving Salisbury the 5-2 lead.
Not to be outdone, Washington and Lee was quick to answer, scoring once again off of a free position shot less than a minute later.
For the next eight minutes, the two teams traded shots and goals. Eventually the Generals pulled within one goal with the score at 6-5.
Calling a timeout, SU Head Coach Jim Nestor refocused his team halfway through the second half. This would prove to be key, as Salisbury went on to take control of the game.
After a quiet first half, King continued the scoring, putting up goal after goal, despite the Generals putting multiple defenders on her. Whether it came off a pass from teammate Krissy Murphy, or off a free position shot, King was unstoppable.
Senior leadership emerged to lead SU to victory on the attacking side. King finished the game with six goals in the second half, while Murphy and Hynson contributed another goal and assist each.
For the Sea Gull offense, the leadership was welcomed. While they’ve eventually gotten into a rhythm this season, intensity from the start has been an issue. Coach Nestor made sure that the senior leadership on offense was a focus each day this week at practice.
“We focused on it pretty much all week. Again, getting everyone on the same page, but the seniors really stepped up. Especially Krissy [Murphy], Dana [King], they did a really nice job,” Nestor said.
Of note with eleven minutes to go, Salisbury’s starting goalie Gianna Falcone was replaced by sophomore Skye Graham. The Generals then went on a three-goal run across seven minutes, putting some pressure on Salisbury.
As they pulled within two with the score at 10-8, King scored her final two goals of the day, setting up the final 12-8 SU victory.
“Skye’s working just as hard at practice, and she’s doing really well, so we want to keep her confidence up, and she deserves to be on the field too,” Nestor said.
Nestor also offered his assurances that Falcone’s starting position is not in danger, adding that he’s put no thought into switching up Salisbury’s starting goalie for future matches.
The Sea Gulls will have a quick turnaround for their next contest Tuesday afternoon in Sea Gull Stadium, when SU hosts Rowan University (1-0) at 4 p.m.