SALISBURY, Md. — Rochester got the biggest win in program history Saturday when it upended perennial powerhouse Salisbury 3-2 in the round of 16 of the Division III Field Hockey Tournament.
Salisbury, a five-time national champion was appearing in its 28th NCAA tournament, which is second all-time. This is the second game of Rochester’s first appearance in the tournament.
The Sea Gulls (15-3) got on the board early and took the momentum when senior Kristina Fusco slapped home a loose ball in front of UR goalie Madison Wagner at 2:57. Fusco nearly made it 2-0 at 4:38 but her chance went high after Meilssa Slocum made a stop along the baseline.
The Yellowjackets (18-5) were able to respond at 7:53 when Megan Keil got on the board with a goal in front of the Sea Gull net. Junior captain Katie Flaschner dribbled through the defense on the left side and dumped the ball in front where Keil backhanded it past Salisbury keeper Rachel Clewer.
Forty-five seconds later, UR’s Shelby Hall had a golden opportunity to take the lead but her shot after finding open space in front went wide. Salisbury’s Erica Henderson hit the post shortly after to keep the score tied at one.
Rochester was then able to grab the lead in the 19th minute when Flaschner got a score of her own. The play started on a hard penalty corner shot by Michelle Relin which was stopped by Clewere at the near post. It was there that senior Sarah Dixon got the ball free and eventually found the captain who was all alone in front to slide the goal home.
The Sea Gulls answered right back four minutes later though when off a penalty corner, Summer Washburn’s initial shot was blocked right back to her and the sophomore then blasted a shot right past Wagner into the cage.
At the half, the Yellowjackets were even in shots on goal at five apiece despite Salisbury holding the advantage in penalty corners and total shots.
Early in the second half, UR was awarded a penalty stroke when a Hall shot was illegally cleared off the line by the Sea Gulls. The resulting stroke was taken by Allison Resnick was saved by a sprawling Clewer keeping the score level.
That missed chance seemed to light a fire under the Sea Gulls as they controlled possession in the Yellowjacket zone for the better part of the next 10 minutes before UR Head Coach Wendy Andreatta called a timeout to settle her squad.
Rochester then took the lead again with a Relin blast from the top of the circle off a penalty corner in the 50th minute of play. Dixon provided her second assist of the day on the play.
The fourth-ranked Sea Gulls kept applying the pressure, but Wagner was strong in the Yellowjacket net, thwarting many opportunities from the home team. Salisbury just missed a tying goal at the 60-minute mark when Henderson hit the post again. “The game would have had a very different outcome without Madison in goal,” said Andreatta.
UR then held possession for the last few minutes to advance to the national quarterfinals.
The Sea Gulls fired 15 shots on net and 30 overall in the period. They held 13 corners in the half to finish with a 21-5 advantage.
“I feel like I play better when the pressure is on, and the defense played great in front of me to help out,” Wagner said.
“Salisbury is a great team,” Andreatta said. “We really are the Cinderella story in this year’s tournament.”