Defending the nest: Feb. 4

By Chris Mackowiak

Sports Editor

@cmackowiakSGSN

This weekend Salisbury University gets its first taste of the spring sports season when the defending-National Champion men’s lacrosse team begins their 2017 campaign in Sea Gull Stadium. The Sea Gulls are ranked preseason No. 1 in all of the major polls. Meanwhile inside Maggs Physical Activities Center, both of the Salisbury basketball teams are in the thick of the final stretch of the season.

Here is a preview of each of the contests taking place on campus on Saturday:

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SU Men’s Lacrosse will look to add a twelfth national title this season under head coach Jim Berkman. Chris Mackowiak photo

MLAX: Methodist University at No. 1 Salisbury, 1pm in Sea Gull Stadium

Salisbury will enter Sea Gull Stadium on Saturday as defending-National Champions for the first time since 2013. This season the mission becomes an attempt to win back-to-back National Championships for the first time since 2011 and 2012. The task may be a tall one, but the Sea Gulls are certainly the favorites again to get the job done.

The Sea Gulls return much of their talented squad from a season ago. The whole defense returns with senior goalkeeper Colin Reymann coming back to man the cage. Reymann posted a 6.42 goals-against-average in his 14 starts last season, including the 14-13 National Championship win over Tufts.

Most of the veteran losses for Salisbury come in the midfield and in the attack. However, many of the household names from a season ago return alongside younger talent. SU head coach also adds depth with two Division I transfers in both the attack and long-stick middy.

While Salisbury heads into their first match looking to gain confidence and consistency for their tough road ahead, Methodist comes in looking for a massive road upset.

The Monarchs are in their fourth season with a men’s lacrosse program, and head coach Zach Nedbalski has led Methodist to larger win totals with each season. Last year, the team posted a 9-9 record.

Now with their first senior class in team history, Methodist is packed with veteran talent on a roster featuring 20 upperclassmen, including 16 seniors.

The most exciting match-up may just be at center field on the face-off. SU senior middy Duncan Campbell returns after posting a 62 percent success rate on the face-off along side 83 ground balls, good for second on the team. He will be up against Methodist’s senior middy Jordan DeSalvo who tallied 71 percent in face-offs. He also led the team with 147 ground balls.

The bottom line is that lacrosse is back in Salisbury this weekend. The hope for both squads it that there will be many more answers than questions by the weekend’s end.

Coming up in the first print edition of The Flyer on Feb 14, we will have a season preview of the men’s lacrosse team.

WBK: York College (Pa.) at Salisbury, 2pm in Maggs

For Salisbury, the 2016-17 season has been up-and-down. A recent shift in the starting line-up has brought increased competition against opponents, including bringing Capital Athletic Conference leaders Christopher Newport and Mary Washington down to the wire.

The issue for Salisbury is that most of those close games have ended in defeat. The Sea Gulls started the season a promising 7-1, but since then have posted a 3-9 overall record. Salisbury finds themselves in the final spot for the CAC Playoffs currently, sixth place in the conference.

York leads a different tale this season, currently in fourth place of the CAC with a record of 15-5 (9-4 CAC). The Spartans currently hold a two-game lead over fifth place Frostburg State.

The last time the two teams met this season, York got the best of Salisbury with a 74-51 win at home. Salisbury senior forward Lauren Rothfeld recorded a double-double with 25 points and 10 rebounds. No other Salisbury player scored more than six points.

On the other side, York spread out their effort with 49 bench points alongside four players tallying points in double figures.

For Salisbury, they need to find consistency along multiple players. Rothfeld has the ability to be physical inside and score often, but the Sea Gulls need another one or two scorers to emerge. With five games still remaining, the team can still gain momentum to ride into the CAC Playoffs, despite potentially starting out on the road if they make it.

MBK: York College (Pa.) at No. 14 Salisbury, 4pm in Maggs

Coming off a sizeable 81-70 road win at Wesley College on Wednesday, Salisbury enters Maggs on Saturday winners of eight of their last 10 games. The Sea Gulls have amounted to a 16-4 overall record, while also currently placing second in the Capital Athletic Conference with an 11-2 record.

However, one of those two losses in the team’s last 10 games came at York back on Jan. 14. Salisbury led for most of the game, but a late stretch of three point shooting allowed the Spartans to make the comeback for a 78-74 win.

York upset Salisbury once during each of the last two seasons. The central reason has been a York player growing hot beyond the arc late in the game.

In their Jan. 14 win over the Gulls, York senior guard Brad Wesner came off the bench to finish with 18 points after going six of 11 from three-point range. Last season, it was then-sophomore guard Matt Scamuffo that found consistency from deep range. Scamuffo tallied 24 points in the game, including knocking down six three-pointers.

While Salisbury should control most of the game on paper, it could just come down to the final few minutes to see if the Sea Gulls can close it out. The whole squad of Sea Gulls are now back and healthy with both freshman center Nick Gittings and junior forward Barry Bratten returning to the court in the Wesley game.

At this point, Salisbury is on track to match their total wins (21) from a season ago, just within the regular season. They were able to lock up an NCAA at-large bid last season with a record of 21-6, while losing in the conference championship.

If the Sea Gulls run the table the rest of the way, they would enter the CAC Playoffs with those 21 wins and a potential match-up with No. 3 Christopher Newport down the line.

At this point, all Salisbury needs to do is take it one game at a time.

We’ll have a breakdown of Salisbury’s NCAA Tournament resume breakdown online on Sunday.

Women’s Basketball: Sea Gulls open CAC slate 1-0, defeating St. Mary’s

By Zach Gilleland

Staff Writer

@_zachariahg

The Salisbury University women’s basketball team won its third-straight game Wednesday night, with defense guiding the team to a 72-36 win in their Capital Athletic Conference (CAC) opener against St. Mary’s.

The teams met twice last season with Salisbury winning both games by double-digits. After a season in which both teams failed to achieve a winning season in conference play, a win in the CAC opener seemed crucial.

Even with the Sea Gulls setting a season-high in points, the defense was consistent throughout the night, limiting the Seahawks to just 12 field goals offensively. St. Mary’s offense was forced into tough shots, and the team shot under 28 percent from the field.

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SU junior forward Josephine Noonan scores a jumper for Salisbury’s first points of the game. Zach Gilleland image

Salisbury Head Coach Kelly Lewandowski employed a full-court press that produced 32 turnovers and made it difficult for the Seahawks to move the ball around effectively. The Sea Gull offense fed off of the defense, producing 39 points off of turnovers.

“Just to keep the pressure on,” junior point guard Mary McDonagh said about the team’s defensive game plan. “Really make them uncomfortable and make them force a lot of turnovers.”

After a jump shot by senior guard Lauren Rothfeld made it 4-3, the Sea Gulls never relinquished the lead. Salisbury’s offense spread the ball around, with all of its starting-five scoring in the first quarter.

After opening the second quarter with a 20-11 lead, the Sea Gull offense stalled. Salisbury could not find open shots, connecting on just two of its 21.

St. Mary’s was unable to take advantage, with the Salisbury defense holding them to three field goals in the quarter. After sluggish play by both teams, the Sea Gulls went into halftime with a 27-18 lead.

“I think that we got comfortable with how easy it felt coming off the first quarter,” Coach Lewandowski said. “I think we weren’t really focused and executing and finishing our shots.”

Coming into the second half the Salisbury offense seemed rejuvenated. McDonagh opened up the scoring with a layup, and then the guard connected on multiple three-pointers to force the lead to 17.

“We knew we needed to come out better and bring the intensity,” McDonagh said.

From there the Sea Gulls went on an 18-4 run in a five minute span. After mustering seven points in the previous quarter, Salisbury responded with 32 points in the third.

“Being more aggressive, keeping the energy up, taking the right shots, moving the ball and finding the open player helped,” Coach Lewandowski said. “I think our press and our defense really fed into our offense.”

With a big lead in the fourth quarter, Lewandowski turned to her bench, allowing more players an opportunity for playing time. 16 Sea Gulls saw the court with 12 finding the basket.

Rothfeld and McDonagh led the Sea Gulls offensively with 17 and 14 points respectively. Rothfeld led the defensive effort with seven steals, while sophomore forward Kaylyn French provided 10 rebounds.

A good sign for Salisbury was its ability to shoot free throws. The Sea Gulls took advantage of their opportunities and shot 85 percent from the foul line.

Next up the Sea Gulls will be on the road as they take on Penn St. Harrisburg on Saturday. Both teams split their meetings a season ago with each winning at their own home court.

“It’s great being 1-0 in the conference,” McDonagh said. “I think everyone wants to build off of it and onto the next game on Saturday.”

Sea Gulls prepare for battle against Amherst in Sweet 16

sports_basketball womens 3.10.15BY MITCHELL NORTHAM

Sports Editor

@primetimeMitch

The Salisbury University women’s basketball team is about to go to a place that it hasn’t been to in over a decade.

This weekend, the No. 11 Sea Gulls will travel to Montclair State University to compete in the sectional semi-finals – also known as the Sweet 16 – of the NCAA Division III tournament. The Sea Gulls will face off on the hardwood against the No. 12 Amherst College Jeffs.

In their win against the Stockton University Ospreys on Saturday, the Sea Gulls played two solid halves of basketball and forced the opposition into 29 turnovers, but against Amherst, they will have to play a complete game from start to finish on both ends of the floor.

“I’d say we put two decent halves together, but in the next step playing against Amherst, we’re really going to have to play 40 minutes,” Sea Gulls’ head coach Kelly Lewandowski said.

On Saturday, the Jeffs (25-3) took down New York University by a score of 70-47. For Amherst, their leading scorer was sophomore Ali Doswell who scored 22 points and dimed out five assists in the victory.

Immediately after a win against Stockton on Saturday though, the Sea Gulls weren’t focused on Amherst right away, but Lewandowski assured that when the time came to do battle, the maroon and gold would be ready.

“Honestly I have not even seen them yet,” Lewandowksi said of Amherst after the Sea Gulls’ win over Stockton. “I know they crushed NYU tonight and that they’re really talented and come from a really strong conference, but we’ll be prepared.”

The Jeffs are a young team with just two seniors compared to the veteran squad of the Sea Gulls with six seniors. The Sea Gulls score more points but allow more points too, but they also turn the ball over less than the Jeffs with just 14.7 per game compared to the 16.2 times that the Jeffs cough up possession.

The rebounding numbers between the two teams are similar, but one area where the Jeff’s hold a distinct advantage is in blocked shots – averaging seven of them per game. That number is a direct reflection of the size advantage the Jeffs have as well, with five players on their roster who are over six feet tall, compared to just one for the Sea Gulls in freshman Joesphine Noonan who only plays about five minutes per game.

While the inches don’t match up well, the Sea Gulls have handled size this season. They were able to top a lengthy Mary Washington team for the CAC Championship and swept Christopher Newport this season that also sport six players over the six-foot mark.

The Sea Gulls held Stockton’s six-foot-two-inch freshman forward Sasha Williams to just four points. The night before, Williams – the New Jersey Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Year – nearly recorded a triple-double with 14 points, 11 rebounds and nine blocks.

The Sea Gulls’ secret against these towering players is simple: don’t be intimidated.

“We talk about playing against players like Sasha where, you either have to go at them, or go around them. There’s no going over them,” Lewandowski said. “When we start attacking we’re a much better team. We’ve played girls like Sasha this season, I mean, Christopher Newport has Camry Green who is just as tall and bigger. These girls have experience going against tougher, taller, bigger players.”

Against Stockton, Julia McLaughlin had 10 rebounds, while Lauren Rothfeld and Kathy Albornoz came off the bench and fought for a combined 14 rebounds. The trio of forwards will be needed again against Amherst as the battle will likely be won on the boards against their forwards – Meredith Doswell and Megan Robertson.

As per usual though, if the Sea Gulls plan on advancing to the Elite 8 round of the tournament they’ll need their A game from every player on the roster – most importantly from starting senior guards Anna Hackett and Sarah Seipp.

“That’s something that has been pretty consistent for us all year,” Lewandowski said. “Obviously Anna and Sarah have been our leading scorers so they are going to be the focus for other teams and defense is going to try and take them out, but the good thing is that we have Lauren, and Kathy, and Melanie Mocniak and Julia who have all stepped up at different times.”

The Sea Gulls will take the court on Friday at 5:00 p.m. against Amherst and the winner will face either Montclair State or Bowdoin for a trip to the Final Four in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Sea Gulls advance to Sweet 16 after a second half surge against Ospreys

By DIAMOND HOLTON
Staff Writer
@_PensAndWords_
Salisbury University women’s basketball team is the headed to the Sweet 16 of the Division III NCAA Tournament after defeating Stockton University, 61-54, in the second round of the tournament at Maggs Physical Activity Center on Saturday.

The comeback kids – as Head Coach Kelly Lewandowski calls her team – needed to live up to that name as they trailed by five points at the start of the second half. After taking the lead with 13-4 run, the Sea Gulls (27-2) managed to go on a 15-0 run to extend their lead to 18 points and held the Stockton Ospreys (22-7) to just 19 points in the second half.

But the key of the game wasn’t the scoring efforts of Anna Hackett, or the rebounding expertise of Kathy Albornoz or Julia McLaughlin – it was the defensive effort of the Sea Gulls as a whole, forcing the Ospreys to commit 29 turnovers.

“We were more aggressive in the first half than we were last night. We had a really great second half,” Lewandowski said. “Defense in the second half was excellent and we caused them to have 29 turnovers and that really fueled our offense.”

Salisbury’s defense showed itself against Stockton as the team combined for 20 steals – seven of those came from senior guard Sarah Seipp. Despite her cold start in the first half – just one-for-eight shooting from the floor – Seipp added her steals plus four assists and a block to give the offense a sure advantage.

The Sea Gulls attacked early going on a 9-0 run and out-rebounded the Ospreys 14-6 in the first half. Their 20 offensive boards helped them to secure 15 second chance points and they continued to benefit from the Ospreys’ mistakes, scoring 24 points off of turnovers.

Hackett paved the way for a Sea Gulls’ win with 21 points, three assists and three steals. She felt she could take advantage of the Ospreys and put her teammates in position to score.

“The defense definitely fueled our offense and that’s how we like to play ideally. Everyone was getting open looks,” Hackett said. “We were all just getting fast break lay-ups. And that just makes it a lot easier to score.”

Salisbury – despite only having two players score in double digits with Hackett 21 and Lauren Rothfeld’s 12 points – worked together as a team to get the job done.

“Anna and Sarah are going to be the focus for other team’s defense, so they’re going to try and take them out,” Lewandowski said. “The good thing is we have people like Lauren, Kathy, Melanie (Mocniak) and Julia who have stepped up at different times.”

Stockton had three seniors in double figures: Lauren Alwan with 17, Sarah Farrell with 14, and Alex Nardoza with 10 points. Freshman forward Sasha Williams didn’t score much, but secured 14 rebounds while blocking seven shots.

“We certainly are very proud of how (Williams) played,” Ospreys’ head coach Joe Fussner said. “She’s going to be a person that you’re going to have to deal with inside.”

This victory advances the Sea Gulls to the NCAA sectional semifinals against No. 12 Amherst College who defeated New York University earlier on Saturday. The date for the matchup is set for Friday, March 13. Time and location will be announced in the coming week.

CAC Champions: Basketball Photo Gallery

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SU Women’s Basketball takes CAC championship

cac4DIAMOND HOLTON
Staff Writer
@_PensAndWords_

The Salisbury University women’s basketball team became the 2015 Capital Athletic Conference Champions in a double overtime win against the University of Mary Washington, 74-68, in Maggs Gymnasium.

It was not an easy matchup for the Sea Gulls as they struggled early on being outscored and out-rebounded throughout the game. The Eagles had 31 total rebounds in the first half (22 being defensive), while the Sea Gulls only had 16 total.

The scoring by Mary Washington (20-7, 15-3 CAC) was evenly divided while Salisbury had senior Anna Hackett in double figures with 11 points (26 total) and the remainder of the team not over three points, respectively. The Eagles were also too big for Salisbury in the post making major plays inside scoring in the paint.

Senior Courtney McManus and sophomore Lauren Rothfield sunk back-to-back three-pointers to take the lead with under six minutes in the first, but UMW get off some quick jumpers to take back the lead headed to halftime, 29-23.

Sea Gulls (25-2, 17-1 CAC) held on to their ritual of second half comebacks as they went on a 16-3 run from the start with major hustle from Hackett. She drilled a three-pointer followed by a steal and assist to senior Sarah Seipp to bring the Gulls within one.

“This is what we tend to do, especially lately,” Hackett said. “It was a close game the whole time.”

After leading the game by seven off a 13-1 run, McManus shot a jumper to put SU up with under 10 minutes left in the half. The Eagles did not give up keeping the game tied at 50 with fewer than two minutes to go.

Some costly fouls put the Eagles up by four late in the game and sent senior Melanie Mocniak to the line to shoot three made free throws. With the game tied at 57, Mocniak blocked a shot, sending her team to overtime.

Mocniak came out shooting a three-pointer as Salisbury was down with 42.2 seconds left. The Eagles fouled Mocniak again sending her to the line shooting three more made free throws.

“I was so nervous and the first time I was really nervous and the second time I was not as nervous,” she said. “I was just like we got this and I know we can do it and this moment was meant to be for us. When I shot the second set of three’s and the second shot went in and out; that was really nerve-wrecking.”

A questionable foul sent Seipp to the bench because of foul trouble as the Eagles sunk both free throw attempts to put them up by two with 13 seconds left. Hackett found Kathy Albornoz in the paint for the game-tying lay-up sending them to double overtime.

Mary Washington fired a three which was followed by a three from Mocniak and another jumper. Hackett and Albornoz score two points apiece to extend their lead as McManus came through with a block that sealed the win.

Coach Kelly Lewandowski had never been more proud of her team and was ultimately in shock for this moment.

“Three of my seniors have been with me since my very first year when they were freshman, so it’s neat to see that this is what we’ve been talking about for four years and how hard they’ve worked to change this program and move it in the right direction,” Lewandowski said.

This win puts the Sea Gulls’ bid in the NCAA Tournament. Place and venue and their selection will be announced in the upcoming week.