By Chris Mackowiak
Following an excellent winning result for Salisbury against Southern Virginia on Saturday, a warm sunny day was not so bright for the Sea Gulls as they lost a frustrating and weary match 2-0 to Virginia Wesleyan in a non-conference affair.
The Salisbury women’s soccer team (2-3-3, 1-0) started off the game strong within the first few minutes with a few chances and quick movements of the ball. The defense was stout early on, not letting the Virginia Wesleyan College Marlins (4-3) get any chances against Salisbury goalkeeper Hope Knussman.
However, in the 25th minute, the Marlins won a disputed foul just outside the right side of the penalty box. Despite a Salisbury player wall in front of them, sophomore midfielder Brooke Adamchak knocked the ball forward on the ground to set up a shot by her fellow Marlin senior forward Annie Hartman. Hartman hit a beauty bending it into the far post and connecting for the opening goal.
“I think we were just unlucky with a free kick. I thought we were positioned well. We couldn’t get a hand on it. I think that sunk our boat a little bit from a standpoint of we lost our energy there,” SU Head Coach Kwame Lloyd said.
After early back-and-forth play, the Virginia Wesleyan goal drained the momentum of the Sea Gulls from that moment on. Salisbury was never exactly the same for the rest of the match. A large problem for the team was a lack of cohesion up top when the offense pushed forward.
“Their defense was pretty tough. I think we had a hard time getting in the box just in general. Sometimes it felt like our forwards were up there alone whether it was me or the outsides,” junior forward Ruthie Lucas said who had three shots-on-goal in the match.
“We were just having a hard time connecting, but I think their defense was just doing a good job shutting us down. I felt like I could get a few one-on-ones with some of the girls, but I think I just couldn’t put it away like I was hoping to.”
At the end of the first half, both teams had totaled six shots and one corner kick apiece. Other than some individual moments by Lucas on offense in the second half, Salisbury did not see much offensive production afterwards.
The second half featured the Marlins winning the shot total 9-2 which really told the story of the transitional attack by the team. Virginia Wesleyan junior forward Katie Roberts was subbed on in the second half and provided many scoring chances for the Marlins including a near goal on a breakaway that went just wide of Knussman out of play.
“We have to stay composed and get to the ball early. And then be composed when we get to the ball. If we get there late and you’re running hard, sometimes it’s tough to stop. I don’t think any of the fouls were malicious. I just think we were getting there late,” Coach Lloyd said.
Knowing the physicality of Salisbury defensive stalwart junior Rachel Anderson, Virginia Wesleyan developed a game plan to use her physical play against her by drawing fouls in key situations.
“There were sometimes where we would step too early, we’d get too antsy. They did play physical. There were a lot of fouls that I gave up. At the end of the day, I’d rather give up a foul than just not step at all,” Anderson said.
“I’m generally a very physical player, so they probably had it in the scouting report somewhere.”
The midfield was a disconnection throughout the game, which might be due to the absence of veteran senior midfielder Jayne Pinsky because of an injury. The Sea Gulls are looking for someone to step up and take the role of controlling play between the offensive and defensive sectors.
The loss overall looked to be a case of tired legs. On Saturday, the opening game for the Sea Gulls against Southern Virginia was a nail-biter with Lucas’ lone goal proving to be the game-winning one. SVU went all out against Salisbury on the road.
With the loss behind them, the Sea Gulls will look ahead to continue to compete in the Capital Athletic Conference with their undefeated record still intact. Their next game will be on Saturday, Oct. 1 when they welcome in the University of Mary Washington on Homecoming Day. The players definitely welcome the week of respite and practice ahead of the big match-up on Saturday afternoon.
“We will crush them, and I can’t wait,” Lucas said.
Eager and confident words as the Sea Gulls look to right the ship during the week.