Women’s Soccer: Sea Gulls lose a frustrating match 2-0 against VA Wesleyan

By Chris Mackowiak

Sports Editor

@cmackowiakSGSN

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.

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Photo: Megan Findle

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.

su-v-wv-wesleyan-1

Photo: Megan Findle

“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.

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Photo: Megan Findle

“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.

Men’s Soccer: SU starts CAC-play at 1-0 following offensive outburst vs. SVU

By Chris Mackowiak

Sports Editor

@cmackowiakSGSN

The Salisbury University men’s soccer team opened up their conference slate with a 3-0 win over Southern Virginia on Saturday. Through extensive offensive pressure and strong defense in the air, the Sea Gulls locked down the Knights despite an up-tempo effort from their fellow Capital Athletic Conference members.

Everything seemed to be going right for Salisbury (4-2-1, 1-0) in the first 15 minutes of the match. In the 11th minute of the affair, freshman midfielder Dolph Hegewisch continued the brilliant start to his career as a Sea Gull with a nearly perfect through-ball to split two defenders. The ball found the feet of junior forward Brooks Zentgraf who took it down the right side. With a powerful shot across the frame of goal, Zentgraf slotted the ball into the side netting to open up Salisbury’s score line with his second goal of the season.

“I just went right at them. Brooks was calling for it. It’s something that’s worked for us in the past, and Brooks was able to put it in the back of the net with his right foot,” Hegewisch said.

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Despite a one-goal lead at the break, the first half was a much more physical battle than indicated by the stat sheet. By the end of the game, both teams were neck-in-neck with shots taken with Salisbury tallying 16 and SVU with 15. The physicality of the match was also apparent with five players awarded yellow cards.

Overall, it was an up-tempo battle with both teams racing back and forth across the field. Salisbury’s starting lineup featured senior defender Nathaniel Eiben and senior midfielder Tyler Andrus with significant time at the forward position. Both players became catalysts for offensive production by Salisbury as the game went on.

In the second half, the speed and depth of Salisbury’s attack was showcased with players like freshman forward Ryan Spadin, senior midfielder Kendrick Michel, and Hegewisch, who finished with a goal and an assist in the match.

Although the Sea Gulls held the lead, the team continued the offensive pressure when not in possession which reaped benefits alongside strong transition play.

In the 50th minute, a through-ball was placed past the SVU defense for Hegewisch. At the top of the box, SVU senior goalkeeper Keenan Carroll slid into the ball to keep it away from the SU freshman. However, his kick of the ball deflected off Hegewisch’s legs right into the net for a Salisbury goal.

While it was attributed as a Hegewisch goal, it was a testament to the defensive pressure Salisbury had been practicing all week.

“It was great. Obviously, there are a lot of times where it didn’t go so well as to be expected, but to get a goal off of exactly what we did on the field on Thursday is fantastic. I know the guys feel very good about it,” SU Head Coach Alex Hargrove said.

“We’ve been practicing that really hard, that press we’ve been working. For it to pay off and to actually get a goal out of it, it was pretty awesome,” Hegewisch said.

On the defensive side, Salisbury continued their stout approach. The SVU offense was active and effective early on, getting multiple balls into the box along with providing pressure around the 18. While the team took multiple shots at Salisbury goalkeeper Dan Brennan, most of these shots took place from 20 or more yards out and proved ineffective.

Due to the physicality of the match and yellow card accumulation, the Sea Gulls were forced to rotate players in and out of the back line to keep fresh. Offensive stalwarts freshman forward Tyler McElwee and freshman midfielder Brandon Zapata continued to pressure Salisbury with their quick attacks. However, they were met with a strong ability in the air alongside excellent defense on wings from the experienced veteran backline.

“We just wanted to come out strong today, get after them a little bit. We’ve been on a little bit of a rough break. We wanted to get back out on the board and get a ‘W’ today,” senior defender Kevin Miller said.

With the shutout, Brennan continued his goalless streak in net as a Sea Gull. The University of Louisville transfer has yet to let a goal in this season.

Salisbury capped things off by putting an additional goal on the board when freshman forward Matt Hawkins sent a cross into the box. SVU sophomore defender Nick Francis attempted to clear the ball so that it would not find the feet of SU’s defender Josh Lord at the forward position. However, Francis deflected the ball into his own net for an own goal in the 73rd minute.

The win to open up conference play proved a great moment for Salisbury as they found the net for three goals after previously only scoring four times over their last six matches. The Sea Gulls also broke a two game losing streak that featured two close road contests.

“It feels good. Obviously, there should have been a few extra goals in the back of the net. We’re never going to be satisfied with what we did today. We’ll move forward and try to build on that for Wednesday,” Coach Hargrove said.

Next up, the Sea Gulls will be preparing for a tough non-conference match with Catholic University on Wednesday before returning the Capital Athletic Conference action on Oct. 1 against Mary Washington.

“[This win] is a big confidence booster for the team going forward. We have a big game against Catholic on Wednesday, so we’re going to have to work again,” Hegewisch said.

Women’s Soccer: Lucas goal propels SU to 1-0 defensive win over SVU

By Lucas McCoy

Staff Writer

The Salisbury University women’s soccer team took on Southern Virginia University on Saturday afternoon in a tough match that went down to the wire.  Coming off of two losses, the Sea Gulls fought through adversity and came out victorious, topping the Knights 1-0 in the Capital Athletic Conference matchup.

The Sea Gulls (2-2-3, 1-0) were led by junior forward Ruthie Lucas, who managed to put in the game’s only goal late into the second half. As the game appeared to slow down, suddenly Lucas found herself slightly in front of the Southern Virginia defensive line on a breakaway and beat their last defender, perfectly placing the ball in the top right corner where SVU goalkeeper Megan Turner had no chance to save it.

“When I was in front of the goal my mind was really just on hitting the corner and not missing or hitting the keeper. There has been a big focus on finishing this week and as a target forward that’s definitely my job,” Lucas said.

By taking down the Knights, the Sea Gulls are now 1-0 in conference play and have a nice break in the upcoming week with no games on the schedule. With Ruthie Lucas coming off an injury and with senior midfielder Jayne Pinsky going down in today’s match, the Sea Gulls have a chance to recover and get healthier in the upcoming week before their next conference game.

“The ankle definitely still hurts but I really wanted to play today and it felt a lot better than it has in the past, so going into this game I was really pumped,” Lucas said. “Scoring definitely made playing today that much sweeter. It just felt so good.”

Salisbury has gone through a tough stretch the past five games, drawing in three of them and losing two of them. Saturday’s game against the Knights, however, looks to be the momentum changer the Sea Gulls needed when looking down the road at the rest of their season. Even though the beginning was tough, they are undefeated in conference play.

“Today I was proud on our ability to finish the game. We’re 1-0 in the conference now and that’s right where you want to be,” SU Head Coach Kwame Lloyd said. ”This win gives confidence to our back line and our goalkeeper who both did a tremendous job. It just gives us the confidence that we are now 1-0 in the conference, and the confidence to know that we can compete.”

Even though Ruthie Lucas tallied in the game’s only goal, it was a complete team effort in the win against Southern Virginia (3-5). Every unit from goalkeeper and defense to the midfielders and forwards did exactly what they were supposed to do in order to receive their first conference victory.

“It took us persevering through some injuries, but overall Ruthie [Lucas] did a tremendous job. When she was up, top she became very dangerous,” said Coach Lloyd.

“Some key players would be our back line, [juniors] Rachel Anderson and Jamie Tacka had one of their best days.  [Senior defender] Lindsey Andonian did a great job of being consistent throughout the whole game, and some of our freshmen were also able to step in and do some good things for us.”

With Pinsky unable to play in the second half, it took maximum effort for the Sea Gulls mid field line to step up and show leadership in order to finish out the game strong.  Even though Pinsky is a senior leader, the women’s team showed that they have multiple leaders ready to step up whenever needed.

“We had to deal with some adversity with Pinsky going down today, but I am proud of the team and how they responded,” Coach Lloyd said.  “Our midfield is just so solid for us and they show such poise.”

After the win on Saturday, the Sea Gulls will look to build on the momentum as they remain at home for their next non-conference match when they take on Virginia Wesleyan College on Sunday, Sept. 25th at 3:00 p.m.

Field Hockey: Big First Half Sparks SU Win over TCNJ

By Zach Gilleland

Staff Writer

Coming off back-to-back shutout wins, the fifth-ranked Salisbury University women’s field hockey team returned to Sea Gull Stadium for its second home game of the year Saturday, defeating ninth-ranked College of New Jersey 3-1.

The Sea Gulls’ (7-1) offense attacked the TCNJ defense heavily throughout the first half, firing 13 shots. Sophomore forward Emily Lemanski found the back of the cage less than five minutes into the game, giving Salisbury an early lead.

“The beginning of the game I knew we had to score,” Lemanski said. “So I saw Casie [Preisch] pass the ball from the right side and Becca [Rinaca] just missed it, so I had to come up and shoot it. It was a big win today, we worked well together and we were able to pull through.”

Salisbury scored its second goal of the game with sophomore forward Catherine Sweeney scoring off a penalty corner. Freshman midfielder Arielle Johnston deflected a shot past TCNJ goalkeeper Kelly Schlupp, allowing freshman forward Rachel Domanico to find Sweeney for the finish.

Senior midfielder Abbey Shobe added her team-leading ninth goal of the season that forced the lions to make a change at goalkeeper. Shobe’s goal would send the Sea Gulls to the half with a 3-0 lead.

“Score fast, score often, that’s what we tried to do,” Head Coach Dawn Chamberlin said. “We missed a couple of opportunities in the first half, we just have to make sure we’re taking care of the ball. I thought we were getting good looks, putting good pressure on the goalie and in the circle and as long as we can keep doing that they’re eventually going to go in.”

TCNJ came into the game with the 13th ranked scoring offense in the nation. The Sea Gulls held the lions without a shot in the first half and have not allowed a shot in the first half at home this season.

With a three-goal lead, the Sea Gulls took a more defensive approach in the second half with junior goalkeeper Tressie Windsor being tested by an aggressive TCNJ offense. The defense frustrated the lions, stopping a series of penalty corners, blocking shots and making saves including a diving stick save by freshman midfielder Jillian Hughes.

The Lions eventually scored their first goal of the game when back Lexi Smith scored with nine minutes left in regulation. TCNJ threatened again late, but a stop from senior back Jessie Todd kept the Lions from making it a one-goal game.

Windsor would finish the game with five saves. Windsor and the Sea Gull defense have allowed only one goal in the past three games.

“We got an idea that [TCNJ] was going to come out firing in the second half,” Windsor said. “We knew that we just had to play poised and decided to step up our level of play instead of holding back and controlling the game. It’s a huge win, I’m very happy and just to shut down a team like that is a huge advancement for us in the season.”

Playing a high-scoring team in TCNJ, Chamberlin was happy to see her defense shut down the lion’s offense.

“We played phenomenal defense today, I couldn’t ask for them to do anything more,” Chamberlin said. “We worked hard on that this week, making adjustments to some areas we thought we had some weak points and we really held strong today. A good team like that it’s hard to keep them off the board and to just give up one goal is pretty phenomenal.”

With three-consecutive wins, Salisbury heads to Fredericksburg, VA to face Lynchburg College Wednesday before hosting Mary Washington in its CAC opener Oct. 1.

Men’s Soccer Preview: Salisbury vs. Southern Virginia

By Chris Mackowiak

Sports Editor

@cmackowiakSGSN

Following a tough non-conference slate, the Salisbury University men’s soccer team welcomes in Southern Virginia for their first Capital Athletic Conference (CAC) match of the 2016 season this Saturday at 2pm.

While the Sea Gulls (3-2-1) have been very strong to this point, there are still many questions out there for the team to face. Southern Virginia (2-5) on paper looks like an easy team for Salisbury to defeat, but their tough grit does not show up in the stat sheet.

Salisbury University (3-2-1)

 After a great start to the season offensively with 11 goals through their first four matches, the Sea Gulls face a dilemma as their offensive production has plateaued. Following their 3-0-1 start to the season, Salisbury has dropped their last two both on the road (2-1 in OT at Neumann, 1-0 at Eastern).

The true problem in these matches may not be the offensive play, but the finishing instead. In most games this season, Salisbury has led their opponents in both shots and shots on goal, but the team can’t seem to finish many of those opportunities.

One major problem for Salisbury was the loss of their star senior forward Leslie Umunna, who is tied for the team lead with 3 goals this year, for two recent games (home vs. Washington College, away at Neumann). A year ago, Umunna led the Sea Gulls with 7 goals.

It is not Umunna’s offensive production that spells his importance to the team. It is instead what he does as part of their typical 4-1-4-1 formation. He is at the ‘number 9’ spot at the top of the formation, so Umunna dictates the offense. The responsibility of the number 9 position is to hold up the ball as a target and jockey with the big opposing defenders. By holding up the ball, Salisbury’s wingers and central attackers can move up the field to find space to work in tandem with Umunna.

Last year, the Sea Gulls had legendary forward Matt Greene who sparked nearly all the offensive success his first few years. With Greene and Umunna able to play up top well, it wasn’t a huge certain if one was out of the lineup up top. With Greene having graduated, Head Coach Alex Hargrove is still in search of the guy to be the second tier player up top in case Umunna goes down. Luckily, it will not be a worry on Saturday because Umunna will officially be back and most likely starting.

“We’ve played a couple different guys across that front line. We’ve had some guys that have gone up there and given us some good minutes. We ask them to go in and give everything they’ve got and be as productive as they can,” Coach Hargrove said.

“We’re looking forward to having [Umunna] back to play close to a full 90 [minutes] on Saturday and being healthy the rest of the season.”

Towards the end of last year, former Head Coach and present SU Athletic Director Gerry DiBartolo played now sophomore defender Josh Lord up top as a sub into Umunna’s position. One big benefit came his way with a deflection goal in the 2015 CAC Championship Game. With his defensive knowledge, Lord was able to have success tracking the ball up top. In recent practices, Lord has seen more time training in the spot up top as he shows more and more physicality.

The argument can be made to try junior forward Brooks Zentgraf up top, but he is much better with quick speed as a winger outside. Freshman midfielder Dolph Hegewisch has been an excellent catalyst for the offense with his passing ability at a sort of ‘number 10’ spot as the center attacking midfielder when he is in the game. Look out for both to draw attention from the SVU defense this Saturday.

On defense, Salisbury has been nearly spotless. Despite the two losses, the Sea Gulls have only given up four goals overall. Their goals against average of 0.64 is nearly even with the team’s in 2015 of 0.62 which was first in the conference.

Their tactics of clogging the midfield so that opposing offenses must move the ball out wide has worked well. However, for teams that work better on the outside, they have punished the Sea Gulls.

The lone goal, early in the match, by Eastern came on a breakaway down the right side. A cross was sent in towards the back post. A Salisbury defender and senior goalkeeper Robert Fiackos missed their coverage, and the ball fell right to the Eastern player running towards the back post to slot it in.

“The mistakes with that goal started 30 seconds before with some poor decisions in possession. There were numerous players who made some poor decisions that allowed a guy to be open at the back post. That’s never a mistake on a goal keeper, but it’s the collection of 11 guys who didn’t do their job in possession and out of it that led to [the goal],” Coach Hargrove said.

“Any game where you only give up one shot on goal and you lose 1-0 is a bit unfortunate. That’s the game of soccer, but we hope to have some of that luck swing our way in the next couple matches.”

The only inconsistency on the defense is at goalkeeper, where injuries and competition have caused a turnstile affect with both seniors Fiackos and Louisville-transfer Dan Brennan both sharing time in net. During Thursday’s practice, Fiackos and Brennan both worked to the side during action after taking on knocks over the course of the last few games.

Brennan has been nursing an injury for the last few matches despite playing backup during Wednesday’s match vs. Eastern. Fiackos went down and had to leave the game in the 17th minute which forced Brennan to enter. The senior transfer played well, but he did not take any free kicks nor goal kicks with the duties being passed on to members of the backline.

Coach Hargrove calls it a “Friday or Saturday decision” for the starting goalkeeping for the match. The team will definitely need to see how the two seniors progress during Friday’s practice into Saturday’s warmups. If Brennan and Fiackos both can’t go, waiting in the ranks could be freshman Samuel Roy who took the reps during practice on Thursday.

The team is built on excellent and experienced defense. The question is will the offense score enough each game to grab wins.

Southern Virginia University (2-5)

 While looking at SVU’s past offensive struggles, Salisbury should not be complaining. After scoring only a total of six goals during all of the 2015 season, SVU has already topped their win total of 1 from a year ago alongside five goals to start this season.

After starting the season 2-2, SVU has dropped their last three while also being shutout in each of the matches. Across the three game span, the team has given up 10 goals to their opponents.

“Their score lines aren’t a great representation of their quality. [Coach Patino] there has done a great job. They’re very organized. They can be difficult to break down. It’s going to take a good collective effort and some individual quality to take them down,” Coach Hargrove said.

Most recently, the team fell at Roanoke College 4-0 on Wednesday Night. While the match featured a tough midfield battle and a lot of competition, problems covering set pieces and crosses marked doom for the Knights.

Notably, Southern Virginia could not mark attackers well defensively. Missed assignments in the man-to-man defense were apparent inside the box. A goalkeeping mistake also led to an open goal shot early in the affair. Just like Salisbury’s game vs. Eastern though, another defender should have that open player marked on the opposite side of the box.

The man-to-man defensive issues could bring an old favorite back for the Sea Gulls: defender Nathaniel Eiben on set pieces.

“It’s very likely you might see Nate Eiben playing in a slightly different position higher up the field, where he gave us some good minutes up there this Wednesday. He’s a guy that has a nose for goal. He’s hungry for it, and he showed that on Wednesday, creating a few chances. I look forward to more of that Saturday,” Coach Hargrove said.

Eiben was highly effective on the offensive side of the ball towards the end of last season. The veteran defender finished third among the Sea Gulls in goals with four, most of which came on set pieces where Eiben could use his head and physicality to get the ball in the back of the net.

The big question for SVU and Head Coach Josh Patino, in his third season, will be if they can hamper the Salisbury offense enough to make a gritty game that could come down to a final goal in overtime. If things don’t go the way of the Knights early, it could be a whole lot of Umunna battering around the defenders similar to what he did in Salisbury’s opening 8-0 win over Wilson College to start the year.

Look for SVU to play conservatively with compact defense to force Salisbury to hold possession and be creative. All day Southern Virginia will be looking for a scrappy goal on a transition attack to catch the Salisbury veteran defense off-guard.

At the end of the day, SVU just wants to end their goalless stride and gain some momentum headed into further CAC play in order to try and make a conference playoff spot. Any result similar to last season’s 4-0 Sea Gull victory in Buena Vista, VA would clearly not be ideal.

Veteran Leadership leads Salisbury Women’s Volleyball on Quest for a Conference Crown

By Zach Gilleland

Staff Writer

With many returning faces from a year ago, the Salisbury Sea Gulls’ Volleyball team is poised to make another run at a Capital Athletic Conference (CAC) championship.

The Sea Gulls look to build off a 24-8 record from a year ago which included a trip to its fifth-straight CAC Tournament Final. The Sea Gulls, however, lost to three-time defending champion Christopher Newport.

The Sea Gulls return with most of its core players from last season; six of the team’s top leaders in kills return this season.

However, Salisbury University did lose one senior from last year’s team to graduation—defensive specialist Kacey Franz.

Among those returning this year is senior outside hitter Katie Stouffer. Stouffer, a three time All-CAC first team player, led the team with 538 kills and finished third in the nation with 4.98 kills per set.

This season looks to be another big one for the standout senior.

“Each year I can see our team getting better, stronger and faster,” Stouffer said. “This year I think we are braver too, that we’re not afraid to take chances, take risks and do what needs to be done to get the job done.”

Junior setters Rachel Pierson and Alexis Howatt return to Salisbury alongside sophomore outside hitter Nicole Venturelli. Last season Howatt and Pierson combined for 1,146 of the Sea Gulls’ 1,278 assists, and Venturelli was second on the team in kills as a freshman last year.

Another returning player for the Sea Gulls is junior middle hitter Sydney Davis. Davis was a force last year finishing third on the team with 118 kills while leading the team with 61 total blocks.

The Sea Gulls welcome three freshmen this year: opposite hitter Carley Cleland, defensive specialist Hailey Dougherty and setter Rachel Dubbs have now joined the team.

“They’ve been a great addition to the team,” Davis said. “It’s been nothing but love, and we love it.”

Justin Turco returns to the Sea Gulls for his fourth season as head coach. Turco (75-24), has led Salisbury to three-straight CAC finals appearances.

Turco said he’s excited for the upcoming season.

“We have a lot of good people on the roster that are returning,” Turco said. “They’ve done a really good job so far of being great leaders and showing our rookies and our transfer what it is to be a Salisbury Sea Gull.”

After another CAC finals appearance, Turco said the team isn’t looking too far ahead this season.

“Our goal this year is to take things one game at a time,” Turco said. “Obviously we wanted to win the conference, but it’s a new year, every year is a new year, so I coach players that this year.”

“Christopher Newport has a new roster, Mary Washington, everybody else in the conference, they all have new rosters, so we don’t dwell on last year too much. We just want to win the next game ahead of us,” Turco explained.

Turco noted that the veteran leadership of the team has helped in preparation of the season.

“It’s helped a lot because the veterans know what I expect, so they know how to translate that to our rookies and our transfer,” Turco said. “They know the system well, they know each other really well, so there’s not a lot of miscommunication [on the court].”

“The communication is awesome and leadership overall is great.”

Before some practices the team holds a book group and reads “The Winner Within,” a book written by basketball Hall of Fame coach Pat Riley. Davis notes that the reading helps the team focus and brings them closer to each other.

“It really brings us together,” Davis said. “We talk about our needs, how we feel, and just doing that before practices helps us become in sync.”

The Sea Gulls opened up its season in Gettysburg, Pa., for Gettysburg College’s annual tournament. The Sea Gulls finished the tournament with two wins and two losses.

However, Salisbury rebounded this past weekend at their home tournament, the Sea Gull Classic, where the team went undefeated (4-0) and moved to an overall record of 6-2 with wins over McDaniel, Virginia Wesleyan, Marywood and Elizabethtown.

Conference games begin Sept. 30 against York College. The Sea Gulls host its first CAC home game of the season Oct. 14 against Marymount University.

The CAC tournament begins Nov. 1 and hopefully will mark another CAC championship for the Sea Gulls.

Coaches Corner: Men’s Soccer Head Coach Alex Hargrove

By Chris Mackowiak

Sports Editor

@cmackowiakSGSN

For any first year head coach, establishing their program’s culture and team’s mentality can be a long road to success. For new Salisbury University Men’s Soccer Head Coach Alex Hargrove, it is a different story.

 After spending the last 10 years with the SU soccer program, the former assistant coach is thankful for what his predecessor and mentor, Coach Gerry DiBartolo, created in his long tenure as the head coach.

 “I was honored as both a player and an assistant coach to work under someone who has really been through the changes of the game over the last 30 to 40 years. I’ve been fortunate enough to work under him for ten seasons,” Coach Hargrove said. “Throughout that time, you gain a lot of valuable insight into game management, but as well as player management and how to run a successful program.”

 Hargrove was also a player for four years at Salisbury University under DiBartolo in which the now Salisbury head coach accumulated 21 goals and nine assists in his career as a midfielder.

 “The way I see it, he’s done all of the hard work. He took care of a team that had four wins in his first season as a head coach to a team that has 8 conference championships and 13 NCAA appearances, and my job is to keep the ship steering in the right direction.”

After obtaining what Hargrove calls his “dream job,” the SU head coach seeks to continue that classic Sea Gull soccer culture that became the staple of the program.

“Ours is and will continue to be one that is family-first and a very much ‘we not me’ mentality, getting all 29 guys to buy into the same concept that it’s not going to be 11 players that start the game that are going to allow this team to be successful. It’s going to be 29 guys day in and day out going in the same direction, working for each other.”

A large part of the success of this SU soccer culture is defense, which Hargrove intends to continue to preach first when it comes to his team.

“For me that’s what’s going to win games. Being solidified defensively has been a strong focus of our preseason, and now that we’ve gotten that base down, we’re starting to lay in some of the more attacking concepts that we’re hoping to implement over the course of the season.”

Coach Hargrove identifies himself more as a defensive-minded coach since he played as a midfielder. He looks to bring the “same intensity” he presented on the pitch as a player to his new head coaching role.

“My coaching style is to provide the structure and the instruction where necessary, but ultimately hopefully we can put our players into positions that they can use their player profiles to put the final pieces together.”

Away from the pitch, Hargrove notes his admiration for certain European soccer managers and their structuring or formations in utilizing their rosters. Some of his favorites include Manchester City’s Pep Guardiola, Chelsea’s Antonio Conte, and Tottenham’s Mauricio Pochettino. 

When asked about his favorite hobbies, Coach Hargrove simply states: “I have two dogs, and I love the beach.”

 While it is evident that a love for the beach is the perfect fit for a soccer coach on the Delmarva Peninsula, it was also evident to the soccer aficionado early on in his soccer career that he could become a coach.

 “I’ve been a captain of every team I’ve ever played for. I remember my club coach when I was 16 told me that he thought I’d be one of the youngest college soccer head coaches. While I don’t think I’ve made that mark, I found myself in a program pretty early in my career. So, I kind of knew that’s where I wanted to go from an early standpoint.”

After learning and developing throughout his career, Hargrove is big on creating the team chemistry and environment similar to what he experienced as a player.

 “My favorite parts were that it provided more social opportunities to meet more people and getting to work with a lot of the youth in the area which is a big favorite of mine.”

 However, for Hargrove there is one goal at the end of the tunnel that may not be achieved today, but will be accomplished one day at a time.

 “We want to be the most respected college soccer program in the country. I think if you look around at some of the other athletics programs in our department, there’s certainly a few that could put that statement on their programs.”

 After starting his first season with an 8-0 victory over Wilson College, Coach Hargrove looks well on his way to building upon the success of the Men’s Soccer program and boosting its persona.

 

The ‘Complete Wide Receiver’ at SU: a Blocker and a Role Player

By Chris Mackowiak

Sports Editor

@cmackowiakSGSN

During the Salisbury University football team’s successful 2015 season, one player always seemed to appear in the clutch situations of the largest games. That player was wide receiver Isaiah Taylor.

Taylor developed a legendary status at Salisbury. In his senior season, the wide-out accumulated 33 receptions for a total of 732 yards and 7 touchdowns. His 732 yards accounted for 58 percent of the team’s receiving yards.

Alongside his role in the offense, he was a central figure on special teams as a returner of both punts and kickoffs. During his career, Taylor built up a total of 2,708 all-purpose yards, part of which for his senior year was 17.8 percent of the team’s total.

Taylor’s stellar 2015 campaign awarded him a spot on the All-New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) second team. The former Salisbury wide receiver also took a trip to the NFL Combine and drew the eyes of many scouts for his speed and physicality.

Now with Taylor in the rear-view mirror along with teammate Max Ehrsam, who totaled 2 receptions for 40 yards and a touchdown, the Sea Gulls will rely on a new wide receiving core fresh with young talent but also filled with questions.

Three of the players that have stepped up to the task to fill the receiving core are sophomore Sean Rowland, junior Brad Rose and junior Josh McClain.

Head Coach Sherman Wood sees it more as a situation for the team as a whole to step up instead of one player living up to the stats of Taylor.

“I think it’s just more of a team attitude,” Coach Wood said. “These guys work well together. They do the small things right, and we don’t have one dominant type person to get something done. So, I think they’re more team-attitude types of guys. They’re a family. They really work well together. They do exactly what we want to do. That’s what you need in this offense, and that’s part of our recruiting too. We recruit kids that just want to be part of a program and that aren’t the ‘me’ guy.”

Each of the three players seem to have their own special talents that they bring to the table out on the field: McClain with experience, Rose as a deep-threat, and Rowland with speed.

“I think Brad Rose is our best deep-threat because of his height. He’s about 6’2”, and he can get down field,” Coach Wood said. “The fastest kid is definitely Sean Rowland. If someone’s playing man on us maybe he can get around them. He can definitely come across the middle and catch and go. I’m a catch-and-go type of guy.”

About McClain, Coach Wood said, “Overall, [Josh McClain] has the most experience. He’s a pure-handed receiver. Very cerebral; definitely gets the job done.”

In the opening win against Albright College, all three showcased on the field in their own way. McClain, who finished with three receptions a year ago, opened his season with two catches including a diving grab on an out-route. Tying McClain for catches in the game was Rowland, who introduced himself to the whole Sea Gulls fan base with his 92-yard kick return touchdown to open the game on his way to being named the NJAC Special Teams Player of the Week.

Despite no catches in the game for Rose, the junior wide receiver racked up numbers in a different category that is special to Coach Wood’s offense. In a triple option offense, blocking is extremely important and sets the movement downfield for the slot backs to find open space.

“If you want to be a total receiver, this is the place to be. If you want to be a total athlete, that’s the way we recruit. We can talk about who the best wide receivers are in the NFL. One of them just retired: Calvin Johnson. Calvin Johnson came from Georgia Tech, which is a triple option program. Demaryius Thomas. Demaryius Thomas is one of the top receivers in the NFL. He came from Georgia Tech. Why did those guys get attention? It’s because of those one-on-one opportunities,” said Wood.

The focus on blocking and being a “total receiver” creates the team atmosphere that is so heavily emphasized by coaches and players. For Rowland and McClain, their goals for the season are all marked team-first.

“Just a small piece to the puzzle; just trying to help our team win. Block for my running backs and catch for my quarterback,” Rowland said.

“Honestly, I have the same goals as last season: just to win every game, every night as long as I do my part to make that happen,” McClain said.

Whether the role on the team is to be a blocker like their offensive lineman or head on a slant route to make a game-changing grab, this receiving core is ready to play.

While the stats may be piling up this season for players like McClain, Rose, Rowland or in the past with Taylor, what truly sets apart the Salisbury University wide receivers may be their team-attitude and blocking ability. So, when the team welcomes Montclair State into town on September 17, watch for what’s going on during the rushing plays because that is the mark of a true receiver in Coach Wood’s offense.

A Turf Field and Tailgating Welcome in a New Age for Salisbury Athletics

By Jamir Wilson

Staff Writer

The fall season has returned bringing along major changes to the Salisbury University campus. The newly renovated $19 million Sea Gull Stadium was host to its first football game against Albright College on September 2. Before kickoff, the school celebrated a ribbon cutting ceremony for the new turf field.

“I can’t even begin to put into words how proud I am with the student athletes combining it all (school work and sports.) While they’re in school, they’re really dedicated to ensuring that our teams always perform well,” President of Salisbury University Janet Dudley-Eshbach said.

Performing well has become the norm for Salisbury athletics winning 19 Division III national championships in school history and 166 conference championships since joining the Capital Athletic Conference in 1994-95.

Sea Gull Stadium hosted sporting events during the tail end of the spring season. Over the summer, Salisbury began to implement 35,500 pounds of new turf fiber, 408,000 pounds of sand and 360,000 pounds of rubber.

“We had a lot of anxious moments in the spring when we were trying to get this ready for lacrosse season, so we got a few games under our belt. The field is perfect. The facilities for the young men and women are outstanding, and it’s to show our student athletes how much we appreciate them,” Salisbury University’s Athletic Director Gerry DiBartolo said.

The instillations of the new facilities have the Salisbury faithful excited. The home side of the stadium’s bleachers began to be overpopulated, and some Gulls’ fans had to be moved to the opponent’s side for the remainder of the game.

“This new field features state of the art compression technology, which will minimize the development of ruts, improving athletes’ safety and performance,” Dudley-Eshbach said. “The original turf was installed in 2007. After a few seasons, it became clear that the field was rapidly deteriorating, resulting in a whole host of problems.”

The old field’s turf did not go to waste though with almost all of the turf being recycled or repurposed. The new turf was manufactured by Shaw Sports Turf of Calhoun, GA that has been credited with installations of other prominent university’s fields such as Georgetown and John Hopkins.

The Salisbury University Athletics Department is planning to continue renovations throughout the sporting complex.

“We are working on a new softball field; hopefully, that’ll be done by the end of January. In January, we plan on building new intermural fields that will be artificial turf with lights,” said DiBartolo.

“We’re doing an improvement to both the men and women’s soccer fields, and our future plan is the build a new baseball facility where our current intermural fields are.”

Dudley-Eshbach said the motivation behind these renovations is genuinely about the athletes and for the teams.

“I’m pumped about our teams, but by the same token, it’s kind of cool that when other teams come in to play us and see what we got they may get a little intimidated.”

A new element has been added to the Salisbury football game experience this season. Tailgating is now available for the students and parents behind the tennis courts before the games.

Tailgating is a tradition that has been a part of football culture from the beginning, and bringing it to Salisbury was important for the school.

“The field was packed with everyone mingling and playing games. I’m happy they really gave us a lot of freedom,” Salisbury senior and NAACP President Dom Williams said. “People brought footballs and other games and there didn’t seem to be any problems.”

Although the tailgating was an overall success, students did have some criticism.

“If you’re going to have tailgating, there should be trashcans accessible to the students nearby at the site,” Delta Sigma Theta member and Black Student Union Vice President Jeremie Davis said.

“I didn’t like how we weren’t allowed to grill in the area,” Alpha Kappa Alpha member Allie Plater said.

Despite it being the first day of tailgating, there were people ready to soak in the moment and enjoy their time.

“It was exciting to see students have a real college experience which includes tailgating,” Davis said.

“The tailgate provided everyone a place to celebrate and show school spirit towards the game and our school. It was a lot of fun,” Plater said.

The first football game of the fall season brought a lot of new excitement to the campus and athletic program. With Sea Gull Stadium’s renovations complete, there’s a sense of Sea Gull pride that has been restored to Salisbury University.

SU’s Football Kicking Core Enters 2016 Season More Focused and United than Ever

By Chris Mackowiak

Sports Editor

@cmackowiakSGSN

 On the way to the 2015 New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) Title last season, the Salisbury Football team featured a litany of star players that were game changers. Two of those stars were special teams’ players: punter Tim Steindl and kicker Alex Potocko.

 Through the thick and thin of the long football season, the two Sea Gulls made pivotal plays to push their team on to victory, or in some cases to defeat. While there were hardships along the way, both were eager to learn from their mistakes.

 In 2015, Salisbury began the season at Albright College in Reading, PA. After Albright scored three unanswered touchdowns in the fourth quarter to take a one point lead over the Sea Gulls, it came down to kicker Alex Potocko to hit a game-winning field goal from 18 yards out with about 15 seconds remaining in regulation.

 “I’m not sure, looking back, if I was overly confident, but I think about how I went on the field then versus how I go on to the field now, and I think that kick taught me a lot about the way I need to break things down every practice into their fundamental steps,” the junior kicker said.

 Despite missing that critical kick in the game, Potocko, who also converted a 23-yard field goal against Albright last year, would go through the rest of 2015 missing no field goals including the game-winning kick against Wesley. However, it does show how much thought or focus can change one singular kick whether during punting or place-kicking.

 “The first thing I notice is field position; what side of the field we’re on. How deep am I? How far away can I kick it? If I’m close to the 50, then I’m going to punt it differently than if I’m close to the 10,” SU punter Tim Steindl said.

 “Punting is much more technical. For kicking off, I just try to kick it as far as I can down the field,” the All-NJAC first team punter said.

 Steindl is taking over the kickoff duties this season and started it off well, forcing three touchbacks against Albright on September 2.

 For place-kicking, Potocko says his main focus is to look at each kick the same in almost all situations.

 “Every kick should be the same. Be consistent. Not overthinking it.”

 ‘Not overthinking it’ and being focused can be a tall task when kicking plays move so quickly, with the kicker having only a split second to prepare.

 Punter Steindl notes that the time snapped from long snapper Ryan Malane to his hands is about 0.8 seconds. The overall snap-to-kick time is about 2.2 seconds. From his catch to his kick, the punter has about 1.5 seconds to get off the kick without being blocked.

 The junior says that for the actual punt, anything above 3.5 seconds is an excellent hang time. The overall goal is to get the coverage team down there. Therefore, in just 2.2 seconds, Steindl must think through the whole process, and he still puts up conference-high numbers.

 For kicker Potocko, the times only grow faster in place-kicking. The All-NJAC second team kicker says the group must aim for a 1.25 to 1.3 second snap-to-kick time in order to get the ball off with no touches from the defense.

 “It comes down to less than a tenth of a second each time,” Potocko said, who was 4/4 on extra points versus Albright two weeks ago.

 A difference of less than a tenth of a second can come down to the relationships and trust developed between the whole kicking team. Why is Salisbury University one of the top teams in kicking in the country? It is the behind-the-scenes teamwork of Potocko, Steindl, long snapper (LS) Malane, holder Brandon Lewis, and Kicking Coach Dan Gregory.

 “Tim and I have worked a lot, especially with Coach Gregory, on staying focused with everything; every little drill,” Potocko said. “All the practices before when I look back, we were just kicking. We never had it in our heads ‘this is a game-like situation.’”

 “It’s a unit, so it’s very important that everyone do their job,” Steindl said, averaging 42.6 yards per punt alongside a 71-yarder two weeks ago.

 Both kickers advocate for the strong communication and relationship with their So. LS Malane.

 “We get a lot of time with him and also get to do PAT field goal at the end of every practice, but it’s pretty much knowing that right when Malane’s fingers go back, I should be going. I always tell [holder] Brandon [Lewis] where I want it, and he nearly always gets it there. He’s a great holder. There’s a sense of urgency at each practice since everything matters,” the SU starting kicker said.

 For Steindl’s punts, the communication with Malane must be even stronger due to the variability of the ball in the air. The Dover, Del. native says he likes the ball coming to one spot: his right hip.

 “For punting it’s a little more about placement. I can tell when he’s going to snap the ball and where it’s going to be right as he snaps it,” the SU punter said.

 Despite the pressure in these split-second situations on the field, the kickers both continue to create the theme of a team-first unity that is unique.

 “The goal is just to have fun and to enjoy kicking; to enjoy being part of a team especially like Salisbury,” Steindl said. “I think the biggest thing is for us to understand that we’re playing something a little bit bigger than ourselves. That’s really cool for us because it takes a lot of the pressure off of us.” Steindl says he also dreams of being an All-American by the end of his tenure.

 After a successful night for the entire group in their first game against Albright College, the kicking core has set the tone for another successful season under the lights.