SALISBURY, Md. -- Just hours after receiving the No. 1 ranking in the new National Field Hockey Coaches Association poll Salisbury defended its new status with a 3-1 victory against No. 3 Messiah at Sea Gull Stadium.

The Sea Gulls (7-0) opened the game with great intensity, putting early pressure on the Messiah defense with two shots in the opening 77 seconds, the second of which led to Salisbury's first goal of the day. Off of a penalty corner opportunity, freshman Summer Washburn ripped a shot from the top of the circle that senior Alison Bloodsworth was able to tip home for a 1-0 Salisbury lead.

The advantage remained one for the next 10 minutes as Salisbury continued to push into the Messiah end of the field. The lead doubled on Salisbury's second penalty corner chance when junior Kristina Fusco inserted the ball to senior Courtney Webster on the left side of the circle. Webster settled the ball and allowed it to just roll into the circle before hammering a shot to the back of the cage for the 2-0 Sea Gull lead.

Washburn added to her assist in the 25th minute, as she had another chance to rip a shot from the top of the circle. The ball headed toward the left side of the cage and deflected off of a Messiah defender before heading into the goal, giving Salisbury the three-goal edge it would take to halftime.

The Sea Gulls held a big advantage in the first half, attempting 11 shots to Messiah's five, but in the second half the Falcons (3-2) came out determined. Messiah pushed the ball into the Salisbury defensive end of the field and attacked the cage, registering the first penalty corner of the second half seven minutes in, and cutting the lead to 3-1 two minutes later.

The goal came in the 45th minute when Messiah's Kourtney Ehly took a shot on goal that Salisbury senior goalkeeper Anna Cooke was able to turn away, but Juliana Hershey was there for the Falcons to put the rebound home, getting her team on the board.

But the one goal was all that Cooke and the Salisbury defense, led by seniors Shannon Hanratty, Tara McGovern and junior Amber Holland, would allow as the Gulls held on for the win.