Salisbury 6, Middlebury 3

Â

Â

Salisbury University took full advantage of its set plays and two goals by sophomore Megan Powell to defeat Middlebury College 6-3 in the 2004 NCAA Division III Field Hockey Championship game at Westfield State Colleges Alumni Field.

Salisbury, which also defeated Middlebury in the 2003 championship game, scored on three of its four first-half penalty corners, and also scored on a free hit play to take a 4-1 halftime lead.

The Sea Gulls capitalized on their first penalty corner at the 24:50 mark of the high-scoring first half when Salisbury midfielder Danielle Twilley won a battle for the ball with Middlebury goalkeeper Meghan McGillen and passed the ball to a wide-open Abby Rowe, who put the ball in the left side of the goal to give Salisbury a 1-0 advantage.

We like to score first and knock them on their heels, Powell said. It helps a lot that weve been here before. We stayed calm and played our hearts out.

Just over a minute later, Salisbury earned its second penalty corner and executed again. Twilley passed the corner out to Melissa Webster, where she blasted a shot from just inside the circle which was tipped over McGillen by a Panther defender into the top of the cage to extend the Sea Gull lead to 2-0.

We had so many unforced defensive errors early in the game, Middlebury head coach Katharine DeLorenzo said. We were vulnerable to the quick hit by Salisbury outside the circle that led to the first two goals.

Middlebury got some pressure on the Salisbury goal when junior midfielder Allison Smith had a shot from 16 yards out that was stopped by Salisburys freshman goalkeeper Maria Ramoundos. Salisbury cleared the ball quickly and raced downfield, forcing Middlebury to foul just outside the Middlebury circle.

On the ensuing free hit from 20 yards out, Budd fired a pass to the back post. Junior Britney Elliott made a lay-out dive and got her stick on the ball to redirect it into the goal to give Salisbury a 3-0 lead.

Middlebury rallied and got one goal back off a penalty corner of its own when Allison Smith received the corner, stopped it, and blasted a shot just inside the circle that was tipped past Ramoundos by senior forward Ashley Pullen to make the score 3-1.

Salisbury head coach Dawn Chamberlin said, We went after it hard and set the tone early. We knew Middlebury was going to score, but we just had to score more.

Salisbury did score more and answered right back just over a minute later at the 14:17 mark. Melissa Webster received another penalty corner and passed it to Budd who fired the ball into the cage from 12 yards out to extend the Sea Gull lead back to three goals at 4-1.

Middlebury started the second half in a flourish, putting the pressure on in the first minute of the second half. Senior back Ashley Hall made a run through the Salisbury midfield and slid the ball over to Lauryn Nicasio. Nicasio shot from ten yards but was foiled by the pads of Ramoundos.

Powell put Salisbury further ahead with 18:57 remaining, when she broke in from the left side. McGillen made a diving stick save but the rebound went right back to Powell who made no mistake with the second chance to make the score 5-1 in favor of the Sea Gulls.

The Panthers refused to quit and rallied back to score two goals within five minutes to put the outcome in doubt. Freshman Nina Daugherty crossed the ball across the circle to find a wide open Reid Berrien who fired the ball between the pads of Ramoundos at the 14:43 mark to make it 5-2.

Less than four minutes later, Claire Edelen won the ball in a mad scramble in front of the Salisbury cage and flipped it over a sprawled-out Ramoundos to make it a 5-3 Sea Gull lead. But Powell scored her second of the afternoon, making the score 6-3 with 4:31 remaining, to end any doubt of the outcome.

DeLorenzo said, Getting behind was the difference in the game. We took out two defensive players to score, and we did score. Three goals should be enough to win.

The nine goals scored is a record for an NCAA Division III championship game and just one off the record for goals in any tournament game (10), which has happened twice previously. Salisbury also set a record for goals in a tournament with 19 over four games.

With the victory, the Sea Gulls completed a perfect 22-0 season and extended their winning streak to 33 games, dating back to October 14, 2003.

-- Courtesy William Smith