By George Tatoris
With two losses against nationally-ranked teams this season, Lions field hockey knew that the No. 5-ranked Salisbury University Seagulls would be a trying foe when they faced them on Saturday, Sept. 24.
“The most difficult challenge going against a strong team is staying composed and playing our game from the start,” junior defender Jacqueline Schwartz said.
Unfortunately for the No. 9 Lions, Salisbury was also aware of this fact. The Seagulls came out aggressive, forcing Schwartz and the rest of the Lions defense to be fettered to their own net for the first half. A comeback in the second half was not enough to save the Lions from a 3-1 defeat to the Seagulls.
Salisbury wasted no time with the Lions, scoring their first goal five minutes into the match.
The defense kept the Seagulls off the board best they could. Senior defender Lexi Smith and Schwartz made defensive saves, while senior goalkeeper Kelly Schlupp accumulated two saves of her own. The Lions managed to hold the Seagulls off for a majority of the half, however, 27 minutes in, a Seagull scavenged the ball off the rebound from Schlupp’s second save and swiped it in for the goal.
The Seagulls scored in the same manner five minutes later, scooping up a rebound from a blocked shot and finding the back of the net moments later. The Lions substituted Schlupp with junior Christina Fabiano to close out the half.
The dismal first half did not leave the Lions hopeless in the second.
“We played a hard first half with having to defend our goal for the majority of it,” Schwartz said. “Coming off the field for halftime we all got this spark of how urgent this game is for our team and to pick ourselves up.”
The Lions unleashed a barrage of shots from Douglas, Smith, junior forward Elizabeth Morrison and senior forward/midfielder Danielle Andreula. In less than four minutes, this quartet rattled off a total of seven shots. Unfortunately, Salisbury’s defense was rigid and Seagulls goalkeeper Tressie Windsor accrued four saves in the mayhem.
Within the next 12 minutes, the Lions had five penalty corners while the Seagulls had four, but neither team was able to find the net. Finally, with under 10 minutes left in the play, the Lions got on the board. On their sixth corner, sophomore forward Taylor Barrett passed the ball to Smith on the left side, who launched the ball past the Seagulls goalie.
Smith made three more shots and the Lions had two more penalty corners in the final 10 minutes, but nothing stuck. The Lions lost, 3-1.
“We had more opportunities to score this half. (A) majority of them were created by Lexi (Smith) who started the momentum of the second half with her goal,” Schwartz said. “Walking off the field today with another loss is upsetting but will make us stronger.”
The Lions were outshot 13-0 in the first half, but turned things around in the second, matching the Seagulls six shots with 14 of their own. After faltering in the first half, the Lions defense kept Salisbury off the board in the second.
Defense played an important role in Tuesday’s game against Gwynedd Mercy University as well. They scored four out of five Lions goals while keeping the Griffins off the board leading to a 5-0 victory.
The Lions were already two goals ahead thanks to freshman defender Cayla Andrews when Schwartz received a pass from Smith. Schwartz stumbled upon receiving the ball, but with less than 10 minutes left in the first half, Schwartz knew she had to put it in the net.
“I had bobbled the ball with my reception, but knew it was my job to finish what I started. That is just what I did,” Schwartz said. “I followed my mistake and finished the ball in the back of the cage.”
The goal helped the Lions end the half ahead, 3-0. In the second half, junior forward Elizabeth Morrison scored on a scramble in front of the net and Andrews completed her half trick off an assist from Andreula to bring the final score to 5-0. Schwartz attributed the win to team synergy.
“The entire team worked very hard and worked together fluently on the field to create the win for our team,” Schwartz said. “We had each other’s backs and worked together.”