No. 1 Salisbury victorious in battle of unbeatens, topples No. 4 TCNJ
EWING, N.J. -- In a battle of two undefeated teams ranked in the top five in the country, No. 1 Salisbury University came out victorious in the annual matchup against No. 4 The College of New Jersey, 9-6, on Saturday.
The winning streaks continue to flow for the Sea Gulls (14-0), as they are now on a 37-game winning streak since the start of the 2013 season and a 47-game regular-season winning streak that dates back to April 13, 2011.
In a defensive battle for both teams, Salisbury held strong keeping the high-scoring Lions' offense that averages 16.67 goals a game this season to just six. The Sea Gull offense found the holes in the TCNJ defense as well, scoring nine goals on a backfield that has limited opponents to just 5.83 finishes per game this season.
Salisbury started the game off with two early shot attempts, but the Lions (11-1) would find the back of the net first on a free-position attempt by Jen Garavente. It would be moments later when juniors Shelby Nemecek and Bethany Baer would hook up for back-to-back goals to give the Sea Gulls a 2-1 lead with 19:43 remaining in the first half.
TCNJ's Lauren Pigott drew the score even four minutes later for the last time, as junior Kate Haker and sophomore Samantha Duranti would answer back with two goals to give Salisbury the lead that it would never lose for the rest of the game.
With 2:58 remaining in the half, Pigott would tally one more to pull within one, as the Sea Gulls took a 4-3 lead into the half.
At the break, Salisbury held the edge in draw controls, 6-3, and groundballs, 5-4, while both teams made nine attempts on goal.
The Sea Gulls came out firing to start the second half, scoring four-consecutive goals, pushing the score to 8-3 in the first 15 minutes. Katelyn Blondino opened the scoring on a pass by junior Kara O'Rourke. Two minutes later, Shannon Carta would add her first of three on a free-position attempt. Nemecek put in her final goal of the game on a man-up play with 20 minutes remaining, receiving a pass from Carta. To end the four-goal run, Carta found the back of the net on an unassisted attempt with 15:36 remaining in regulation.
Less than a minute after Carta's unassisted tally, the Lions put together a last-chance run scoring three-straight goals. Drawing the score back to a two-goal deficit, 8-6, TCNJ would be halted by another Carta goal, this time on a pass by Baer, to cap off the scoring for the game.
Carta led all scorers with three goals and an assist for a game-high four points. Nemecek also tallied a hat trick as she leads the team with 41 goals this season. Baer recorded a game-high three assists, while O'Rourke added two.
For the game, Salisbury and TCNJ both shot 17 times, while SU put 14 on goal to the Lions' 12.
The defense, paced by Laura Maskell, caused seven turnovers and picked up nine groundballs. Maskell scooped a game-high three groundballs, caused two turnovers and won a game-high four draw controls. Salisbury edged TCNJ in draw controls, 11-7, for the game.
Senior goalkeeper Ashton Wheatley recorded her 13th victory protecting the cage this season, making six saves through 60 minutes of work. The senior captain also picked up two groundballs, moving her into fourth in program history with 115. She jumps Sea Gull alum Linda Ackermann who had 114 from 2002-05.