BY BRANDON STARK
Featured photo: SU junior defender Lindsey Elgin drives downfield with the ball. Sept. 15. Emma Reider photo
On Wednesday night, the No. 8 Salisbury University Sea Gulls (8-2) took the field to take on the Catholic University of America Cardinals (3-6). Both teams came into the game off of shutout wins in their previous games. Salisbury looked to defend their home field and also to avenge their 3-2 lost to the Cardinals last year.
“We were so hungry tonight to get the ball in the cage,” SU freshman forward McKenzie Mitchell said. “It’s redemption from last year. We needed to come out here and give it our all, and I think we really did that tonight.”
After a back-and-forth opening of the game with little to no offense, the Sea Gulls’ offense came to life, scoring three goals in a span of four minutes. The first goal came from junior forward Tara Daddio off of an assist by freshman forward Kellie Pickford.
Daddio’s first goal of the game was also the first shot either team had on goal. During the game’s first penalty corner, Mitchell scored off of sophomore defender Camryn Dennis’ assist to increase Salisbury’s lead to 2-0.
“[Camryn Dennis] passed it to the stroke line, I took it, pulled right and tried to dive and get [the ball in the cage],” Mitchell explained.
Mitchell quickly scored another goal to add another insurance tally to Salisbury’s 3-0 lead, a lead that Salisbury would take into the half.
“We had to make sure we were getting shots off quickly on goal,” Daddio explained. “[Our strategy for our shots was] to make sure they were at the corners, not at the goalie.”
Salisbury’s offense had 10 shots on goal throughout the first half, while the Sea Gulls’ defense did not allow a single Cardinals shot on goal.
“It was definitely our drive that [our team] had at practice,” Mitchell said. “We kept on drilling and drilling and drilling until we got the ball into the cage. When we finally came out here tonight, we knew what we had to do, just get the ball in the back of the boards.”
Going into the half leading 3-0, Salisbury knew that if they could score three goals in four minutes, the Cardinals could make a second half comeback to tie the game or take the lead.
“[Coach Chamberlin] said, ‘Going into the half it’s 0-0, so anything can happen,’” Daddio explained. “[Catholic] is going to come out harder than they did in the first half, so we have to make sure that we come out just as hard.”
Much like the first half, Sea Gulls also dominated the second half both on offense and defense. The offense scored another three goals to add to their lead. Daddio scored her second goal of the game unassisted to increase Salisbury’s lead to 4-0.
On a penalty corner, Dennis scored on an assist by junior forward Rachel Domanico. Daddio achieved her hat trick with her tenth goal of the season. The late goal gave Salisbury its sixth goal, a new season high.
On defense, the Sea Gulls rarely allowed the Cardinals to get the ball on Salisbury’s half of the field. The Sea Gulls’ defense only allowed a single shot on goal, which finally came over 63 minutes into the game. The Cardinals prevented a shutout by scoring on this late shot on goal, but SU still came out victorious 6-1.
“It was a whole team effort tonight,” Salisbury head field hockey coach Dawn Chamberlin said. “In our previous games, we had a lot of good individual efforts, but not a team effort. It was completely a team effort [tonight]; there was lots of energy out there today from everyone and we need to hold that energy going forward.”
The Sea Gulls will travel to Frostburg State (1-9) on Saturday for Salisbury’s first CAC matchup of the year, where they will take on the Bobcats.
“For sure, we’re coming off of a win, but we can’t let that get to our heads,” Daddio said. “We have to practice really hard these next two days and perfect what we didn’t perfect on the field and work on what we need to work on for Frostburg.”