May 19, 2013

Salisbury Earns Redemption, Downs Trinity for Title

by Mark Macyk | | Live Blog Replay

Salisbury junior goalie Ashton Wheatley made nine saves and was named the NCAA Division III women's tournament Most Outstanding Player.
© Scott McCall

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — All year long, well-meaning adults have advised the members of the Salisbury women's lacrosse team to cherish their college years. Don't blink, it will all be over in a moment.

The life lesson was unnecessary. For the Sea Gulls, the last year could not have felt any longer.

"We had 365 days to wait until this moment again," said SU senior Katie Bollhorst. "Every day, every minute, towards the end. We wanted to play Trinity."

A long year came to an end for Salisbury in the NCAA Division III women's lacrosse championship game on Sunday afternoon at Stevenson. The Sea Gulls exacted revenge and dominated throughout for a 12-5 victory over Trinity. Last season, Trinity defeated Salisbury 8-7 to win its first title.

"We've been cheering 'redemption' all year," said senior Lauren Feusahrens. "That word has really meant a lot to us."

Feusahrens led all players with five goals, Maggie Roundy had two goals and three assists and Brittany Baer had one goal and two assists. But for the second consecutive day, goalie Ashton Wheatley played the hero. The junior, and reigning IWLCA Goalkeeper of the Year, made nine saves and was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player.

"That was probably one of the biggest issues for our attackers," said Trinity coach Kate Livesay. "It wasn't just that they had to beat their defenders, but then to get past her."

One day after trailing at the break for the first time all season, Salisbury (23-0) jumped out to a quick 4-0 lead and led 6-2 at halftime. That would be all the Gulls needed thanks to Wheatley, who used every part of her body to stop Trinity.

"I'm used to it," Wheatley said of the bumps and bruises she acquires during a game. "I get it in pregame warmups, but I've got tough skin."

Wheatley's presence is doubly beneficial for the Sea Gulls, because they shoot against her in practice.

"You know when you make a shot against Ashton, it's going in against anyone," Bollhorst said. "You can fake her five times high and shoot the ball low and her foot comes up in the air and stops it."

It is the first loss for Trinity since April 25 of last year, snapping a 28-game winning streak. Trinity had not allowed more than 10 goals since last March 21.

"Coming in as a freshman, I never dreamed that even being here was a possibility," said Trinity senior Mallory Hinman. "But being here says a lot about the rise of the program and being able to do it with our tough academics says a lot about the girls on the team and the coach."

It is the first championship since 2010 for coach Jim Nestor and Salisbury, and its second overall. The Sea Gulls became the 13th undefeated national champion and the first since Franklin & Marshall (which beat Salisbury for the title) in 2007.

For Roundy, Bollhorst and Kara Koolage, the victory bookended a championship career. They were all on the team in 2010, when Salisbury also won the NCAA championship one year after a one-goal heartbreaker the year before.

"We were kind of just along for the ride," Roundy said. "They fought and fought and never gave up. I feel like that was kind of almost identical to the way this year went. Since a year ago today, every girl was thinking, 'we have to come back and redeem ourselves.'"

Adding sweetness to the redemption for Salisbury, was a vocal cheering base from the school located a little over two hours away, on Maryland's Eastern Shore. Those fans included Wheatley's older brother, who ran on the field after the game and lifted her over his shoulder; Bollhorst's family, who showed up in red and gold body suits; and the offensive linemen from Salisbury's football team, who painted their offensive lineman stomachs in support.

"They always ask me after games 'Lauren what grade do we get, how loud were we?'" Feusahrens said. "Last year was definitely an away game. Being close to home this year was really awesome."

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