First Half Run Carries Diplomats to NCAA Finals

First Half Run Carries Diplomats to NCAA Finals

Box Score | Photo Gallery

SALEM, Va. - For the first ten minutes of a rematch of last year's championship game, it looked like déjà vu all over again. Sarah Bray and her #5 Hamilton Continentals opened Saturday's NCAA Division III semifinal game building a quick 4-1 lead on #2 Franklin & Marshall. Unlike last year's championship, the Diplomats responded. An 8-0 first half run lifted the Diplomats (20-1) past the Continentals (16-3) and advanced F&M to the NCAA Division III Championship game for the third time in as many years.

Bray scored on a free position shot 3:43 into the first half to open the game's scoring, but was quickly answered by Ashley Bevington who pegged the upper left corner to make it 1-1. Bevington scored three goals and assisted on another in the win.

Hamilton took the next draw. Diplomats' keeper, Lidia Sanza, came up big on a free position shot but Libby Schultz scooped up a loose ball on the ensuing scramble and dumped it past the F&M keeper. Bray then stretched it to 3-1 with a one-on- one move from just inside the eight-meter mark. Things hit rock bottom for F&M after Sanza came up with an interception that ended a sustained Hamilton possession but an errant pass by the Diplomats led to another Hamilton free position goal, the first of five Liz Rave goals in the game.

The Diplomats turned the tables quickly. 22 seconds after Rave struck, Jen Pritchard parked on the top of the goal circle and collected a pass from Meredith Lussier to cut the deficit in half. That goal sparked an eight-minute, eight-goal run by the Diplomats that six different players factored in on. Lussier scored twice from eight meters and assisted on a pair in the stretch.

Lussier's first goal came on a free position shot from the left side. She worked across the goalmouth to the right to beat Kate Fowler. The goal gave F&M its first lead of the night, 5-4. The Diplomats led the rest of the way. The goal was also Lussier's 100th in her career, making the sophomore the sixth active Fummer with 100-goals in her career. That goal was followed 22 seconds later by Shannon Summers from eight-meters, giving the Diplomats' senior the second 100-point season on record at F&M.

Back-to-back Bevington goals made it 8-4. In addition to Bevington's hat trick, F&M got three goals and three assists from Lussier. Blake Hargest kicked in four goals, including two of the night's more artistic goals - a quick stick finish fed by Sarah Meisenberg and a flash of a quick backhand against her and Fowler's momentum.

The Diplomats dominated the draws in the game, particularly during the first half. F&M collected 13 of the 19 first half draws and 20 of the game's 31. Summers earned eight victories off of the draw circle.

F&M led by as many as seven goals twice in the second half. Pritchard converted a Meisenberg pass into her second goal of the night early in the second half to make it 13-7. Lussier set up Hargest to make it 16-9 with 5:32 left in the game.

Hamilton mounted a late rally with Bray and Rave trading goals to make it the 16-13 final. The Continentals possessed in the F&M end late, but Sanza picked off a pass from behind and gave F&M the opportunity to stall out the rally.

The F&M victory sets up a rematch of the 2007 National Championship game. The Diplomats will face Salisbury, 11-10 winners over Gettysburg, tomorrow at 3:00 p.m. The Diplomats defeated Salisbury 11-8 in the 2007 National Championship game. Salisbury beat F&M 10-9 in Lancaster earlier this season, snapping F&M's 35-match home winning streak. The game will be aired live on CBS College Sports TV.

SCORE BY PERIOD       1  2  Tot

Hamilton College....  6  7 - 13

Franklin & Marshall. 12  4 - 16

Hamilton College SCORING: GOALS: Liz Rave 5; Sarah Bray 4; Kaillie Briscoe 2; Audrey Nebergall 1; Libby Schultz 1. ASSISTS: Kaillie Briscoe 1; Liz Rave 1.

Franklin & Marshall SCORING: GOALS: Blake Hargest 4; Meredith Lussier 3; Ashley Bevington 3; Jen Pritchard 2; Sarah Meisenberg 1; Lauren Ehrhardt 1; Shannon Summers 1; Cat Serpe 1. ASSISTS: Meredith Lussier 3; Sarah Meisenberg 2; Ashley Bevington 1; Jen Pritchard 1.

Hamilton College GROUND BALLS: Kate Fowler 3; Kate Marek 2; Kaillie Briscoe 1; Catie Gibbons 1; Rebekah Gibson 1; Audrey Nebergall 1; Libby Schultz 1.

Franklin & Marshall GROUND BALLS: Lidia Sanza 3; Paulette Cutruzzula 1; Sarah Meisenberg 1; Cat Serpe 1.

Hamilton College TURNOVERS CAUSED: Rebekah Gibson 2; Liz Benjamin 1; Sarah Bray 1; Kaillie Briscoe 1; Kate Fowler 1; Catie Gibbons 1; Kate Marek 1; Libby Schultz 1.

Franklin & Marshall TURNOVERS CAUSED: Lidia Sanza 2; Paulette Cutruzzula 1; Sarah Meisenberg 1.

SHOTS - Hamilton College 27; Franklin & Marshall 32.

SHOTS ON GOAL - Hamilton College 20; Franklin & Marshall 24.

TURNOVERS - Hamilton College 9; Franklin & Marshall 13.

CLEARS - Hamilton College 8-11; Franklin & Marshall 8-13.

GOALIES - HAMI: Kate Fowler 16-3 (60:00 minutes, 24 shots-8 saves, 16 GA); F&MW: Lidia Sanza 18-1 (60:00, 20-7, 13).