SALEM, Va. - Sarah Bray came off the bench to score a career- and game-high five goals to lead No.4 Hamilton over Franklin & Marshall 13-6 for its first-ever NCAA Division III Women's Lacrosse Championship on Sunday afternoon at Donald J. Kerr Stadium on the campus of Roanoke College.
Bray, who was named tournament MVP, netted four out of her five in the first half including three in the Continental's (21-1) six-goal surge to take an 8-2 lead at intermission and never look back for the national title. The win avenges a 14-13 loss to the Diplomats (19-2) on March 19, marking Hamilton's only defeat of the season.
"Hamilton had a great season and we could not be happier for them," said head coach Anne Phillips. "We got to experience the same thing last season and hopefully we will be back next year."
The loss overshadowed Jen Pritchard reaching her 200th career goal on her lone strike of the day. For the second straight game, Sarah Meisenberg led the attack with two goals and one assist, bringing her weekend total to seven goals and three assists. Meisenberg, Pritchard and Lidia Sanza repeated as all-tournament team selections.
Playing in their first NCAA title game, the Continentals came out playing like champions scoring the first two goals and then breaking a 2-all tie with six unanswered goals to take a commanding lead for good.
Hamilton's leading scorer Kallie Briscoe netted her 65th goal of the season with 3:27 gone in the first half for a 1-0 edge. Bray was awarded a free-position shot from center of the arc and put it past Sanza to make it 2-0.
F&M got on the board after Meisenberg brought the ball down the field from the defensive end to the crease and dishing it off to Sarah Veneski at the 17:27 mark. Just over a minute later, Devi Hensch collected a pass from Shannon Summers, pivoted, spun and fired her shot by Kate Fowler to tie it at 2-all.
Bray started the 6-0 run for the Continentals with an assist on Hilary Salverin's goal with 18:22 left in the half, before scoring the next two unassisted for a 5-2 lead.
Briscoe earned her second goal of the game, forcing the Diplomats to turn the ball over in their defensive end and catch Sanza out of the net at 6-2, while Bray and Jen McGowan continued the solo runs for Hamilton for an 8-2 lead at halftime.
After the break, F&M converted two free-position opportunities thanks to Meredith Lussier and Meisenberg over a one-minute, five-second span, but the Continentals answered right back with back-to-back goals from Anne Graveley to regain a six-goal lead.
At the 14:31 mark, Pritchard made it 10-5 with her 200th career goal and 12th of the tournament with a shot from a few yards out.
Hamilton halted any momentum the Diplomats started to gain on offense with three more goals to get its largest lead at 13-5. Bray scored her fifth goal after being open on a double team, while Graveley completed her hat trick and Nicole Tetreault put away an 8-meter shot to seal the win.
Meisenberg tallied the final goal for F&M, ending the day with three points, three caused turnovers and five ground balls. In the cage, Sanza posted eight saves and Fowler made six stops for the Continentals.
Hamilton outshot the Diplomats 25-16 and collected more ground balls (17-15), but F&M held the advantage on draw controls, 12-9.