BY BRANDON STARK
Featured photo: The Sea Gulls huddle up during a pause in the action against The Catholic University of America. Oct. 3. Marshall Haas photo
After a week off, the No. 7 Salisbury University field hockey team (14-2, 5-0 CAC) returned to Sea Gull Stadium as the top seed in the CAC tournament. The Sea Gulls played host to the fourth-seeded University of Mary Washington Eagles (11-5, 2-3 CAC), who came off a CAC First Round victory over St. Mary’s (Md.).
Salisbury’s defense has terrified opposing offenses, recording nine shutouts and only allowing 12 goals throughout the regular season. The Eagles were a victim of that stringent defense, losing 5-0 to the Sea Gulls earlier this season.
Sea Gulls on offense outscored their opponents 58-12 during the regular season. Junior forward Tara Daddio came in with a team-leading 18 goals (career high) and five assists.
Not only was a spot in the CAC championship game on the line, but for SU head field hockey coach Dawn Chamberlin, a win would add another milestone to her historic career. Chamberlin was after her 500th career win in program history Wednesday night, which marked her 627th game coaching the maroon and gold.
“We knew this game was extra special, and we wanted to come out extra hard and win it for coach [Chamberlin] because she puts in so much time and effort to the team, so we wanted to give it back to her,” SU junior forward Lexi Butler said.
Once the game got underway, Salisbury immediately scored 80 seconds into the game. Junior defender Jillian Hughes scored her first goal of the season to put the Sea Gulls up 1-0 early in the game.
The Sea Gulls would take this 1-0 lead into the half after a largely defensive first half.
Salisbury had fourteen first-half shots total, seven of which were on goal, along with seven penalty corners. The Eagles did not manage one shot on the Sea Gull defense.
Both Salisbury and Mary Washington would exchange drives down the field over the first 15 minutes of the second half. Butler scored her first goal of the year off an assist by SU sophomore midfielder Jenna Partilla to increase Salisbury’s lead.
The Sea Gulls scored another insurance goal with 17:11 left in the game, this time by Partilla, scoring her seventh goal of the year off a Butler assist. This score put Salisbury up 3-0.
Salisbury’s defense eventually preserved the shutout, defeating Mary Washington 3-0, its second shutout against the Eagles this year and 10th overall.
Salisbury finished the game with 27 shots (16 on goal) and nine penalty corners. On defense, the Sea Gulls would hold Mary Washington to one shot throughout regulation.
Chamberlin won her 500th win in her illustrious career as Salisbury field hockey head coach, but she could not have done it without her talented student-athletes.
“I think it’s just having great players,” Chamberlin said. “That’s what it’s all about out. I feel fortunate to lead such great student-athletes over the years and to get to this point. They’ve done the work and it’s an honor for me to help them and guide them to this point. I owe it all to them.”
— Salisbury Athletics (@suseagulls) November 1, 2018
In her 32nd season leading the Sea Gulls, SU has won 20 of the last 23 conference championships, including a run of 15 straight from 1995 to 2009. Four of the program’s five national titles have also come under Chamberlin, with the most recent one coming in 2009.
Salisbury will look to add another conference championship to that tally when top-seeded SU hosts third-seeded Christopher Newport University on Saturday in Sea Gull Stadium. The No. 16 Captains (13-5, 3-2 CAC) defeated Salisbury in last season’s CAC championship.
“Last year, we lost in overtime to [CNU], and this year we are coming out with more fire and seeking revenge to [bring] the title back,” Partilla explained.