The playoff picture is set for fall sports in the Capital Athletic Conference.
Several Salisbury sports teams will be hosting postseason games, and two teams hold the top conference seed.
With the beginning of the CAC Tournament this weekend and the big dance just around the corner, here’s how the big four teams in the conference looked this season and who they will face to start the postseason.
Field hockey: 16-1, 5-0 CAC
Salisbury’s field hockey team has continued its winning ways in 2019. The team sits atop the CAC and ranks third in Division III heading into the conference tournament.
The season began with seven straight Sea Gull victories, including important wins over top 10 teams Messiah College and Johns Hopkins University.
Salisbury followed up the victory over eighth-ranked Johns Hopkins by dropping an important game against the current number-one team in D-III, The College of New Jersey, by a 4-2 mark. TCNJ has yet to drop a game this season.
The Gulls have responded to the loss with eight consecutive wins, including a double-overtime thriller over rival Christopher Newport University.
Heading into the postseason, head coach Dawn Chamberlin said she wants to see her team maintain a high level of play throughout the entire game rather than a handful of minutes.
“I think we’ve been making some small adjustments and improvements every game, constantly working on getting a little bit better every day,” Chamberlin said. “We haven’t been consistent … We are playing well in spurts, we’re not playing well for 60 minutes and that’s what we need to start seeing.”
Salisbury will face the winner of the first-round matchup between York College and the University of Mary Washington on Nov. 6.
Women’s soccer: 13-2-3, 9-0-1 CAC
The SU women’s soccer team surpassed many expectations this season, recording one of the most successful regular seasons in program history.
Last season, the team finished with a 7-10-1 record and saw its season end at the hands of Christopher Newport in the CAC Semifinals.
Salisbury’s 2019 season got off to a rocky start as the team tallied a 2-2-1 record through its first five games on the year. The losses came on back-to-back days to Montclair State University and Arcadia University.
But the team hit its stride after the two early losses. The loss to Arcadia was its final loss on the season as the Gulls went 11-0-3 over their final 14 contests.
Two games stood out on the schedule. On Oct. 12, the Gulls handed then third-ranked Christopher Newport its only loss on the year by a 5-2 margin.
Yesterday, the Gulls hit the road and took the now eighth-ranked Captains to a draw.
Salisbury holds the top seed in the CAC Tournament and will likely see a third matchup with the Captains at the end of the bracket. The team will kick off its CAC Tournament on Nov. 6, taking on the winner of York vs. St. Mary’s College of Maryland.
Men’s soccer: 9-8-1, 4-6 CAC
The Salisbury men’s soccer team enters the CAC Tournament with something to prove following an up-and-down regular season.
Hope was high for the Gulls following a 11-4-3 record in the 2018 campaign, but early struggles in CAC play prevented Salisbury from climbing in the conference rankings.
Salisbury recorded just one win over its first five conference contests. All four losses came by a one-goal margin.
However, the Gulls went 3-2 the rest of the way, securing the fifth seed in the CAC Tournament.
Head coach Alex Hargrove said he is proud of the way his team responded to its conference struggles.
“I feel good with where we’re at right now. Obviously, we’ve just worked our way out of a little bit of a losing streak, but our guys learned a lot in that time period, and they’ve responded really well,” Hargrove said. “The attack looks good, we’ve started to manage our mistakes better in the back … Everything’s starting to click for us at the right time for us here.”
Salisbury will travel to York College for its first-round matchup on Saturday. The game is set to begin at 7 p.m.
Volleyball: 16-8, 5-4 CAC
The regular season is not quite over for Salisbury volleyball, but the team is locked into the third seed in the CAC Tournament.
Salisbury started the season strong, knocking off eight consecutive opponents and sweeping two tournaments in the first two weeks. The team would then drop back-to-back games against Dickinson College and Stevenson University heading into the Arcadia Classic.
Arcadia knocked off the Sea Gulls in the fourth game of the classic in five sets. This put Salisbury’s record at 11-3 heading into the bulk of conference play.
The Gulls had some struggles at the start of CAC action, dropping their first two matches to Southern Virginia University and Mary Washington. They followed this with two straight wins over St. Mary’s and York, but a three-game losing streak would follow.
The losing streak has since ended as the team members are winners of their last three contests. Their final regular season conference game will be tomorrow, when they travel to Newport News, Virginia to face Christopher Newport for the second time this season.
On Saturday, the Gulls will play their final regular season action against non-conference opponents Virginia Wesleyan and Averett University. Those games will begin at 10 a.m. and 12 p.m., respectively.
Salisbury is also set to host the first round of the CAC Tournament against St. Mary’s on Nov. 5.
By NICK LEWIS
Featured photo: Sports Information image.