On Nov. 4, 2017, the Salisbury University field hockey team faced off against Christopher Newport University in the Capital Athletic Conference Championship.
The then-fifth- and sixth-ranked teams in Division III went head-to-head in a matchup with significant playoff implications. Salisbury scored in the fifth minute of the contest, and CNU got on the board in the 36th minute.
Regulation ended, but the game continued, as neither side could find the back of the cage. In the first overtime period, Salisbury recorded 11 shots to the Captains' three, but the game remained scoreless.
The second overtime period appeared to be more of the same, with less than 10 minutes until shootouts. But CNU’s Courtnie Greene cut to the middle, slipped by her defender and buried the shot to give the Captains the victory over the Sea Gulls.
Yesterday, the two teams met again in Sea Gull Stadium, a matchup that would reach double overtime as well. This time, Salisbury would come out with the victory.
Head coach Dawn Chamberlin said she was proud to see her team fight to stay in the game, even after going down early.
“I’m really, really proud of the grit we showed today and how hard we worked,” Chamberlin said. “We kept the intensity level up, and we had to fight our way back, which we did, and that’s a sign of a good team, and I’m really proud of them.”
The Sea Gulls (13-1, 2-0 CAC) entered the game as the third-ranked team in Division III field hockey, while CNU came in ranked 14th.
The Captains (10-4, 1-1 CAC) started off hot, scoring in the first 30 seconds of the game. Freshman attacker Abby Asuncion sent in a backhanded shot that slipped past junior goalkeeper Dom Farrace for the score.
This would be the only score of the first quarter and CNU’s lone score on the day, though both teams had chances. Salisbury tallied four first-quarter shots to CNU’s two, while both teams recorded two penalty corners in the first period.
Salisbury would get its first goal in the 24th minute as senior midfielder Arielle Johnston grabbed a redirected pass from junior defender/midfielder Camryn Dennis and put it in the cage for the score. This knotted the score up at 1-1, where it would stay for over 52 minutes of game time.
Johnston got a corner opportunity late in the first half, but nothing would come of it. At the half, the game remained in a 1-1 deadlock.
Coming out of the break, the Sea Gull offense started hot. Sophomore forward McKenzie Mitchell had two quick shots, and Salisbury got another corner, but these opportunities were thwarted by the Captains.
In the third quarter, Salisbury held the Captains without a shot while tallying four shots of its own. The Sea Gulls also notched two corners in the third period.
Christopher Newport answered back from the quiet third with a blazing fourth quarter. It sent in four shots and racked up four corners while limiting the Sea Gulls to one shot and two corners.
However, neither side would be able to get on the board as the game headed into overtime.
Chamberlin said the team’s struggles in possession made the overtime periods more stressful than they needed to be.
“We don’t practice OT at all, so really, it’s just a big game of keepaway and possession, and we weren’t doing that very well,” Chamberlin said.
The two squads went back and forth with runs into enemy territory, with the Sea Gulls ripping off three shots in the overtime period but none connecting.
Farrace said that as a goalkeeper, the first thing she thought of when the team reached double overtime was getting herself ready for one v. ones in case the game were to get that far.
“I was definitely prepping myself, especially when we got into double overtime, for one v. ones,” Farrace said. “I was just like, ‘Alright, I have to get myself mentally prepared.’”
It was the second extra period that Salisbury would dominate. The Gulls recorded six shots with six penalty corners, and the sixth would find the back of the cage.
Dennis received the pass from Johnston and pushed it past CNU goalie Olivia Davis for the Sea Gull victory.
Dennis credits her teammates for setting her up on the game-winner.
“We had really good ball movement from the right side to the left side, we had just a great cross, Megan got a good corner and we knew that Arielle was gonna put a good ball on goal,” Dennis said. “I just got the rebound.”
The victory extended the Sea Gull winning streak to six, with just three games remaining in the regular season.
Salisbury will return to action on Wednesday when it travels to the University of Mary Washington in its third conference game of the year at 4 p.m. Chamberlin said her team’s ability to maintain possession needs to improve heading down the home stretch.
“We’re giving the ball away too much, too many unforced turnovers, and that’s something we’ve been talking to them about, and we’re still not quite there,” Chamberlin said. “We made it a lot harder than it needed to be tonight.”
By NICK LEWIS
Featured photo: Emma Reider image.