SOUTH HADLEY, Mass. (Nov. 22, 2009) – Salisbury was thrilled to earn a rematch against Messiah in the championship game of the Division III field hockey tournament, and it made the most of the opportunity.
Caitlin Walker scored the game's only goal just 3 1/ 2 minutes into the first half Sunday as the Sea Gulls defeated previously undefeated Messiah, 1-0, at Mount Holyoke College to win the school's fifth title in the sport.
Avenging a 3-2 overtime defeat to Messiah in the regular season, Salisbury (Salisbury, Md.) captured its first crown since 2005, when the Sea Gulls (20-1) completed a run of three in a row.
"It was just exciting to come back and get a second chance (against Messiah)," Walker said. "It was our only loss of the season. To be able to play them again and get revenge, that's what every team wants after you lose to somebody."
"It's amazing," added senior forward Lauren Cornell, who finished her career with 78 goals, two shy of the school record. "I couldn't ask for anything more. We've come very close the rest of the years."
Four years ago, Salisbury's opponent in the final also was Messiah, and the Sea Gulls came away with a 1-0 victory.
"We were just ecstatic to get an opportunity to play in the national championship and get another shot at Messiah," Salisbury coach Dawn Chamberlain said. "We wanted to avenge that (regular-season) loss and I think we did a nice job of that today."
Sunday's loss extended Messiah's postseason frustration, with the Falcons (22-1) once again coming up empty in their bid to win the school's first field hockey crown.
Salisbury improved to 5-0 in the title game, also winning it all in 1986, while Messiah (Grantham, Pa.) dropped to 0-7 in the finals.
"Congraulations to Salisbury," Trapp said. "They outplayed us from the very first whistle. They played well, they went to the ball hard. They did what they needed to do."
The Falcons were making their 13th appearance in the final four under Trapp, who completed her 37th season at the school. She coached in her 703rd game Sunday, the most of any field hockey mentor in NCAA history.
Salisbury came up much sharper at the start and converted the first of its three penalty corners in the opening 10 minutes. Walker took a pass from Tara McGovern and drilled a 10-yard shot past Messiah goaltender Ashley Mowery.
"Give that credit to our assistant coach, Nick Fiorentino," Chambelain said. "He watched their warmup on their corners and he said they had a weak spot right there defending that. We called that corner and put it in right away."
After rallying from a two-goal halftime deficit to defeat Ursinus, 4-3, in the semifinals, Messiah had to feel good about its chances Sunday.
But once again, Salisbury shut down its opponent with stifling defense. The Sea Gulls won both their games here by 1-0 scores, recording their 12th and 13th shutouts of the season.
Salisbury's defense once again made life easy for sophomore goaltender Anna Cooke. She needed to make only two saves in Saturday's win over Tufts, and turned aside just three shots Sunday.
"I would like a couple more goals, it would make my heart (beat) a little slower," Cooke said. "It was a great game. Messiah played hard, but our girls, we played together. We truly are 30 strong, and it showed today."
It marked the first time since the advent of the Division III tournament that a team won games in the semifinal and final rounds by a 1-0 score. The Sea Gulls recorded shutouts in three of their four NCAA tournament games, allowing a pair of goals in a 3-2 quarterfinal victory over SUNY Cortland.
Messiah's frustration was epitomized when Emily Hursh missed a golden scoring chance in the final two minutes of the first half. Hursh had a wide-open net, but shot the ball wide.
Salisbury overcame the loss of junior midfielders Kandice Hancock and Courtney Webster two of the team's top five scorers who suffered season-ending injuries midway through the year.
Sunday's contest was a matchup of Hall of Fame coaches. Chamberlain, finishing her 23rd season at Salisbury, won her third national title, serving as an assistant on the 1986 championship team.
Chamberlain now has a career mark of 356-90-8, guiding the Sea Gulls to 15 consecutive Capital Athletic Conference titles.
2009 NCAA Division III Field Hockey National Championship All-Tournament Team
Margi Scholtes – Tufts
Alyssa Thren – Ursinus
Nicki Carroll – Messiah
Kourtney Ehly – Messiah
Caitlin Walker – Salisbury
Tara McGovern – Salisbury
Julie Barton – Messiah
Elizabeth Ziegler – Messiah
Lauren Correll – Salisbury
Jen Hooven – Usinus
Anna Cooke - Salisbury