PITTSFORD, N.Y. - The Salisbury women went into their NCAA Division III lacrosse semifinal with a plan to stop the College of New Jersey's two top scorers.
For a time, the best defense was a good offense as the Sea Gulls jumped to a 4-0 lead in the first 11 minutes. They held that lead for another eight minutes.
But then the dam broke. New Jersey scored the game's next eight goals and went on to a 14-9 victory in the game at St. John Fisher College.
"We tried to do our best to take out their top two scorers, [Katie] Wagenblast and [Carin] Heller," said Salisbury coach Jim Nestor, "and then you have a [Lauren] Dougher who steps up."
Wagenblast and Heller combined for 118 goals as New Jersey won its first 17 games this season. The Sea Gulls (16-3) held Heller without a point, even though she took eight shots. Wagenblast and Dougher presented a different story. Wagenblast had five goals and three assists; while Dougher had six goals and assisted on another.
Sophomore Dougher scored the Lions' first goal (her 52nd of the season), on a free-position shot after a foul with 11:08 remaining the first half. After that, Wagenblast and Dougher added five goals to give New Jersey a 6-4 halftime lead.
The advantage grew to 8-4 before Lynsey Bateman scored her second goal of the game 11 minutes into the second half. The Sea Gulls had gone more than half the game without scoring.
"We had a good start, then we got costly turnovers and they stepped it up offensively," Nestor said. "The calls didn't go our way in terms of shooting space."
The coach's biggest complaint was free-position opportunities. "They had nine eight-meter shots; we had zero. That's impossible." New Jersey scored five free-position goals as it defeated Salisbury by five goals for the second time this season.
"The same thing happened the last time we played New Jersey [a 13-8 loss on the road]," said senior attack Jessica White, who scored two of the game's first four goals and finished with three goals and two assists. "We came out fired up and took a 2-0 lead. They adjusted their game."
Said New Jersey coach Sharon Pfluger: "When they got their first two goals, we hadn't had any possession, really. Then we were down 3-0 and 4-0. Once we got possession of the ball and analyzed their defense, we were OK."
In the second half, New Jersey controlled 10 of 14 draws. The most important came after Erin McCarthy's goal, on an assist from White, pulled the Sea Gulls within 9-7.
"There was a lot of time left, 10 minutes, and we thought we could come back," White said.
Thirty-seven seconds after that draw, the Lions' Bridget Bigley took a pass from Wagenblast to score. Salisbury didn't pull closer than three goals again.
Salisbury has lost all 19 meetings with the College of New Jersey, which has won 11 Division III championships.
Salisbury 4 5 - 9
TCNJ 6 8 - 14
Goals: S-White 3, Ackermann 2, L. Bateman 2, McCarthy, Slafkosky; TCNJ-Dougher 6, Wagenblast 5, Campbell 2, Bigley. Assists: S-Ackermann 3, White 2, M. Bateman; TCNJ-Wagenblast 3, Bigley, Dougher, Gossner. Saves: S-Goetz 13; TCNJ-Marquardt 5.