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Salisbury's Baer earns midfielder of the year honor

Bethany Baer helped Salisbury University's women's lacrosse team stand alone as Division III national champions in late May. Two weeks later, the junior earned a prestigious award for her efforts.

Baer, a Westminster graduate, is this year's Intercollegiate Women's Lacrosse Coaches Association Midfielder of the Year for all of D-III.

She led the Sea Gulls to a 23-1 record and their second consecutive national title. Salisbury beat Trinity (Conn.) 9-6 on May 25 in Gettysburg, Pa.

Baer finished the NCAA tournament with 14 goals and three assists. Baer added 21 draw controls and 13 ground balls in five tourney games, and she earned Most Outstanding Player honors.

"It's pretty cool, but I don't think I'd be in this position if not for great coaches and great teammates," Baer said. "I didn't get it alone."

Salisbury has a strong Carroll County connection when it comes to women's lacrosse, and this year's squad was no different.

Junior attacker Shelby Nemecek, a Liberty graduate, led the Gulls with 69 goals. Baer was next with 48 goals, and fellow Westminster grad Kate Haker, a junior attacker, was fourth with 40.

Baer set a career high in goals and added 13 assists, and she led the Sea Gulls with 61 draw controls and 41 ground balls. Baer is second in program history with 133 draw controls, just 73 wins behind the top spot. She's also in seventh place in ground balls with 107.

Salisbury has its 39-game winning streak snapped April 20 when Cortland State, ranked second in the country, beat the Sea Gulls 12-8. That was Baer's second loss — of her college career.

She said the Gulls were motivated by the defeat and sought revenge on Cortland, but the Dragons lost in the national semifinals to Trinity. Salisbury got past Amherst 8-4 (Baer won five draws and collected four grounders and two caused turnovers in the win) to reach the championship game.

"It's just as special, but I think we had to work a little bit harder for it this year," said Baer, who scored twice in the final. "It's almost a better feeling ... we didn't think we would get back to the national championship, but we did. When you win, it's almost like you don't think you're going to do it again."

Salisbury's recognition keeps coming in — Baer and two teammates received Division III All-American honors from Lacrosse Magazine — and the Sea Gulls likely return the bulk of their national championship unit. Salisbury had a mere five seniors this spring.

"We definitely want to come back and do it again next year," Baer said. "There's nothing stopping us from going after another one. Why not go for three?"

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