The 2020-21 season was much shorter than Salisbury University’s fall varsity teams are accustomed to. Other than football, SU’s fall sports only competed in exhibition games this year.
The Salisbury field hockey team ended its exhibition season with a 2-1 record. Junior forward McKenzie Mitchell said despite that, her team was glad to be back on the field after almost a year waiting for their next game.
“We were all excited because we hadn’t played in a game in so long,” Mitchell said. “I don’t think we got upset that they’re exhibition games, we were just excited to go out there and play.”
During the fall season, Mitchell and her teammates were able to practice together, giving the team a bit more time to gel heading into their first exhibition game this spring.
After playing in inter squad scrimmages leading up to the spring season, Mitchell said she was grateful they were able to play other teams so the team could see how they stack up to their competition.
“Playing other teams allowed us to see how we actually play and compete against other teams,” Mitchell said. “It was really good … that we were allowed to play against other teams because it put our play on a different level and it shows us the steps we’ll have to take to play in the fall.”
The field hockey team is just two years removed from a 20-2 campaign in 2019. Salisbury went on to win its 22nd Capital Athletic Conference (Now Coast to Coast Athletic Conference) title and advanced to the National Collegiate Athletic Association Final Four, falling to eventual National Champion Middlebury.
Mitchell believes her team will enter the 2021 Fall Season with a similar mindset of taking it one game at a time in hopes to return to the NCAA Final Four and beyond.
“I definitely think that we’re going to go in with the same mentality that we have in years past,” Mitchell said. “Don’t try to look for the final goal … you want to get to the final goal, but in order to get there, we’ve all realized we have to take it game by game.”
Like field hockey, SU’s volleyball team also participated in three exhibition games this spring. Junior outside hitter Chloe Adam said her team was glad to see the court this year after the uncertainty regarding fall sports this spring.
“It was definitely very exciting, to be given the opportunity to play with all of the uncertainties going on with covid,” Adam said. “Definitely glad to have the opportunity even though it was [just] three games.”
SU volleyball’s lone home game this year was hosted in front of an empty Maggs Gym per SU Covid-19 guidelines. Adam said that she missed playing in front of fans this year, but hopes that this coming fall, Maggs will be full of spectators for their games.
“We are always blessed to have a Salisbury volleyball family — parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles — that always come to the games. Even alumni will come, so we’re always used to that home crowd,” Adam said. “I’m looking forward to next year hopefully having that home crowd back.”
Adam said the exhibition games and the extra practice the team has gotten in over this past year will have them prepared for next season. She said she is hopeful that with a strong schedule next year, Salisbury will get a regional bid and make the NCAA Tournament.
“It all comes with creating a culture for them where they know that this is business, and you need to work hard,” Adam said. “[Salisbury] is not a team where you can goof off, we really care, and we’re waking up at 6 in the morning every day for a reason, so it’s all about leading the team with the right mindset and making sure that no one slacks off.”
By BRANDON STARK
Photo courtesy of Sports Information.