May 18, 2014

Salisbury Runs By Franklin & Marshall and Into Semis

by Justin Odendhal | LaxMagazine.com | Twitter | May Madness Home

In-Game Blog Replay

 

Salisbury, MD – Escaping the regular season match-up with No. 7 Franklin and Marshall (17-6) by one-goal in March left a bitter taste in the mouths of No. 2 Salisbury (21-1) heading into the NCAA DIII Regional title.

Jumping on top of the Diplomats defense early and pressuring the offense to play from behind, the Sea Gulls whipped up an 11-6 victory to advance to the Final Four.

"I think we're making another great run," Salisbury keeper Ashton Wheatley said. "I think we're really focusing on our postseason play – coming out every game really hard and playing through the whole game really hard."

Salisbury dominated the first half, taking just a minute for Katelyn Blondino to come in following the initial draw to take a pass from Kate Haker for opening goal on the Gulls first shot of the afternoon. The Gulls continued to pour it on before a Mary Mitchell shot deflected off of Allison Toomey's leg to make it 3-1.

"We get pumped up off our offense so when Dino had that first goal, everybody always just gets wild for her and" defender Meghan Toomey said. "Ashton is saving one after another we knew we had to step it up and really talk, work on our slides"

Keeping her defense in check, Salisbury keeper Ashton Wheatley made six saves in the period, including her career 400th as a Gull. Stuffing a Diplomat free position shot and commanding her defense to play position helped Wheatley reach the milestone in her last ever home game.

"This (was) my last game at SeaGull Stadium so I thought I'm gonna leave everything out there," Wheatley said. "I'm gonna take some risks and just leave it all out there so when I walk off I know I feel good about it."

Tides turned in the second quarter as Franklin and Marshall scored two easy goals on Salisbury thanks to penalties for a free position goal and a quick pass from Grace Saliba to Krohn to bring the Diplomats within one.

"I think we really spread it around on offense and the goals came from all different people," Diplomats attack Caroline Krohn said. "It wasn't really on anybody's shoulders (specifically), that's what kept us in it – we all really had each others backs."

Taking advantage of a free position shot, Samanatha Duranti saw a wide open Bethany Baer on the crease who dunked it in, giving Salisbury the spark they needed to regain composure. After watching Franklin and Marshall come from behind against SUNY Geneso the prior day, allowing runs could not happen for the Gulls.

"Yesterday they came back and I knew there was a lot of time on the clock," Baer said. "They had the potential of coming back so I just said we've got to end this right now, give them no hope – that's what I did."

Baer continued to show her playoff dominance as she won the ensuing draw to assist Haker followed by another draw control to set up Carta's third goal on the afternoon to make it 8-4 in the Gulls favor.

"They've got a lot of good players and they stepped up, they took advantage of a couple of our miscues and we didn't capitalize on a couple," Diplomats head coach Mike Faith said. "I thought the draw was going our way but they were coming up with it and that was the key, we outdrew them 12-7 the last time and they flipped it on us this game."

Salisbury would allow back-to-back goals around the ten-minute mark, but momentum was never gained again by the Diplomats – overwhelmed with the nations fifth-ranked defense.

"I brought them in together and said that we need to be so loud that they can't hear their coach talking and these girls coming in off their transition," Toomey said. "They're flying in, they want to score and we do not let up, we do not back down."

Holding onto the lead in the closing minutes, Salisbury put together their best game of keep away, allowing just one touch by Franklin and Marshall while they played four-corners. Drawing the same play up since his first season 13 years ago, Salisbury head coach Jim Nestor was impressed by his offense using the proper skip pass and defender looks.

"Probably one of our best stalls since I've been here that we didn't turn the ball over in the last two-three minutes off an over throw (or) our mistake," Nestor said. "We did a good job of today of holding onto that possession – seeing that easy one, skip it or use a defender."

As the press conference rolled on, news of Amherst taking down The College of New Jersey, who the Gulls have faced multiple times in recent years, rolled through. Unfamiliar with the Jeffs other than a few common opponents, most recently York College, Salisbury will hit the film study hard going into the Final Four match.

"Not much, we're going to have to do our homework," Nestor said. "We have a little bit of footage on them. We need to find out a little more and just prepare."


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