BY BRANDON STARK
Featured photo: SU sophomore forward Rebecca Lloyd prepares to hit the ball toward Wesley’s cage. Oct. 10. Marshall Haas photo
The seventh-ranked Salisbury Sea Gulls (9-2) came into Wednesday night’s matchup off a three-game win streak. During this streak, the Gulls have only given up one goal.
“[Our team is] always pretty confident, we try not to be cocky because we know that [our opponents] are going to come out real tough against us,” SU senior forward Emily Lemanski explained. “We know that when we work together, we can dominate on the field.”
Wesley (5-6) entered Sea Gull Stadium with a double-overtime win vs. Marywood, snapping the Wolverines’ six-game losing streak.
“Our [team’s] goal all season has been to get better every day,” SU junior midfielder Arielle Johnston said. “We were pretty confident [coming into today’s game], but we never take [any opponent] for granted. We had to earn [the win] and work for it.”
The Sea Gulls did not waste any time, scoring 23 seconds into the contest. Sophomore forward Jenna Partilla set up junior forward Tara Daddio for SU’s first goal of the night.
“We came in with the mindset of wanting to score in the first two minutes. We worked together, we put the pressure on them and got the ball into the goal,” Partilla said.
Salisbury continued their domination of Wesley, notching six shots on the Wolverines’ cage and five penalty corners during the game’s first 10 minutes. The Sea Gulls also excelled at keeping the ball off their half of the field.
SU’s fierce offense continued to challenge the Wolverines’ junior goalie Lauren Berry throughout the first half. However, Berry would hold her own, recording 10 saves on Salisbury’s 20 first half shots. Wesley’s defense also slowed down the Sea Gulls from scoring on their 13 first half penalty corners.
The Sea Gulls took a 1-0 lead into halftime after dominating Wesley throughout the first half. The Salisbury defense held Wesley on their side of the field for most of the first half, holding the Wolverines shot-less.
Salisbury took the ball and immediately drove down into Wesley territory to start the second half, drawing another penalty corner. Killing that penalty corner off, the Wolverines drove into SU territory.
Thwarting this attack, SU soon after scored their second goal of the match with 31:54 left in the game. Daddio had her second goal of the game and team-leading 14th goal of the season off the assist by Johnston.
“We felt our intensity had dropped some [near the end of the first half],” Johnston said. “So, our goal for the second half was to bring up the intensity. We had so many shots on cage [in the first half], but we weren’t finishing, so our goal was to finish [our shots with goals].”
Like the first half, the Sea Gulls continued to dominate Wesley in the second half. Despite Wesley moving the ball well down the field, Salisbury had prevented the Wolverines from getting a shot on the SU goal.
With 12:29 left to go, Salisbury scored their third tally of the game when junior forward Rachel Domanico assisted freshman forward Kellie Pickford for an empty net goal.
The Sea Gulls would add a fourth goal to their ledger, coming from sophomore midfielder Katie Melvin, assisted by sophomore defender Jenna Johnson.
“We were just trying to take better shots instead of the quick shot,” Lemanski said. “We were trying to take our time with the ball and getting a better shot off.”
Seventh-ranked Salisbury would defeat Wesley, in dominant fashion, 4-0 to improve to 10-2 on the season.
“We knew we had to [shut down Wesley in the second half] because in a sport like field hockey, a one-goal lead isn’t really secure,” SU field hockey head coach Chamberlin said.
Wednesday’s contest also featured as the program’s annual “Corners for Cancer,” where the team raises donations for the American Cancer Society. Fans were given the option to donate a specific amount of pledged money to the organization based upon the total number of penalty corners the Sea Gulls achieved during the match.
In their special pink uniforms, the Sea Gulls tallied a season-high 20 penalty corners in the match.
Salisbury’s next game will be Saturday, Oct. 13 at 6 p.m., where the Sea Gulls will host CAC rival University of Mary Washington (7-3).
“We’re excited for [Mary Washington on Saturday], but we’re going to focus on what we do tomorrow, take it one day at a time and get better,” Johnston explained.