April 10, 2011

Jersey Girls Rock Salisbury on the Shore

by Shawn Nisson | LaxMagazine.com

TCNJ senior midfielder Ali Jaeger works past the defense of Salisbury junior midfielder Carrie Bray. Jaeger's two goals came as part of a 6-0 Lions' run to open the game.

© John Strohsacker/LaxPhotos.com

SALISBURY-- The No. 1-ranked women's lacrosse team from The College of New Jersey kept their unblemished record perfect on Sunday, as the Lions dispatched No. 2-ranked Salisbury University 11-6.

The Lions charged out of the gate to grab control of the contest, tallying six unanswered scores over the opening 12 minutes of play, and never looked threatened by the Sea Gulls in a matchup of the perennial Division III powers.

"I think we played really well," said TCNJ head coach Sharon Pfluger. "We played together today, which is really important. Salisbury always has a great team, so we always have to play our best."

The Lions (12-0) certainly looked like they were playing some of their best lacrosse right off the opening whistle on Sunday, as they would convert their first three possessions of the game into goals. After Salisbury (13-2) won the opening draw and fired two errant shots, the Lions gained control of possession and set up shop in the Sea Gulls' defensive zone. TCNJ's Leigh Mitchell, who led all scorers with six points, got the first of her game-high four assists by feeding a cutting Alex Spark. Spark, who was moving across the scoring zone from left to right, caught Mitchell's pass and fired a low shot that beat SU's Julie Ann Caulfield to give the Lions a 1-0 lead just under three minutes into the contest.

Mitchell helped her squad double the lead just over a minute later, as the Lions controlled the draw and set up on offense once more. Mitchell, a junior midfielder, held possession 10 meters from goal before sending a shovel pass to Lions leading scorer Kathleen Notos, who fired a high shot that beat Caulfield. Just 30 seconds later, TCNJ took a 3-0 lead as, Alison Jaeger curled from behind the net, popping out on the right side of the frame before unleashing a high shot to the upper left hand corner of the cage.

Jaeger tallied again with 20:44 remaining in the first half to make it a 4-0 game, as she once again curled around behind the net, this time to the left side, before sending a shot through the keeper's wickets. Goals from Jillian Nealon, off a free position shot, and Jen Garavente, who was set up by a pass from Mitchell, would give TCNJ a 6-0 lead with 18:49 to play in the first half.

"Our goal was to just come out and be the dominant team," Jaeger said. "We've been doing a really good job of that this season, being the first team to score, just so we can get that momentum going. We did slow down a little bit in the second half but that was mainly just to be secure and maintain possession."

Salisbury would finally get on the board with 16 minutes remaining in the first half, as senior Trish DiGirolomo worked her way to the top of the crease and scored from close range. But the Gulls went into halftime trailing 7-3.

Things didn't get much better for Salisbury in the second half, as the two squads traded scores over the opening 10 minutes of the frame. The Gulls got back-to-back tallies from DiGirolomo and Alyssa Fowler to make it a 9-6 contest, but that was as close as they would come.

After the game, Salisbury head coach Jim Nestor said he was disappointed in his offense.

"Pretty much we got out-played, especially in that first half," Nestor said. "I thought we played well in the second half, but when your offense can only score six goals, it's pretty poor for our standards. Our offense just didn't produce the way they are capable of producing, especially in a game like this."

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