Franklin & Marshall College built a six-goal lead at the half and held on to defeat Hamilton College 16-13 in an NCAA Division III tournament semifinal played at Roanoke College's Donald J. Kerr Stadium in Salem, Va., on May 16.
Franklin & Marshall (20-1 overall) will face Salisbury University in the championship game at 3 p.m. on Sunday. Hamilton (16-3) overpowered Franklin & Marshall in the 2008 national championship game, 13-6. However, the Diplomats now lead the all-time series 3-1.
F&M owned a 13-6 advantage in draw controls in a first half in which possession was critical. The teams combined to commit a total of just seven turnovers in the opening 30 minutes. Hamilton jumped out to a 4-1 advantage 12:20 into the half, but Franklin & Marshall roared back with eight straight goals to grab the lead for good at 9-4.
Sarah Bray '11 scored on a free-position attempt to open the scoring with 26:17 left in the half. Bray finished with four goals. She notched five against F&M in the 2008 title game and was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player. The Diplomats leveled the score at 1-1 at 24:40, but Hamilton took over with three straight goals during the next six minutes.
Libby Shultz '12 punched in a goal for a 2-1 lead at 23:26. Bray tallied another goal at 22:19 when she faked left and blew by the right side of her defender for an open shot.
Liz Rave '10 added a free-position goal at 18:40. Rave tied a career high with five goals and added an assist. She also recorded five goals and an assist against Middlebury College in an NCAA regional final on May 10. Rave finished the year with a team-high 49 goals.
F&M started its eight-goal outburst run with 18:18 remaining and ended it with 9:05 to go in the opening half. The Diplomats controlled every draw in the span and stole the game's momentum.
Rave ended the furious rally with a free-position goal with 7:58 left and Kaillie Briscoe '09 added an unassisted goal off a spin move with 5:15 on the clock. The Diplomats closed the half with a 3-0 run to take a 12-6 lead into the locker room. The 12 goals were the most Hamilton allowed in one half all season.
Hamilton played much better in the second half and outscored the Diplomats 7-4 during the final 30 minutes, but ultimately could not overcome its halftime deficit. After F&M struck first to go up 13-6, the Continentals reeled off three straight goals to cut their deficit to four with 23:34 to go.
Rave scored off a Briscoe assist at 26:44 and then Rave set up Audrey Nebergall '10 just 16 seconds later. The Diplomats won the ensuing draw control and Kate Fowler '10 shut them out of numerous quality scoring opportunities. The Hamilton goalie stopped back-to-back free-position shots, and added another save on a shot from just outside the crease. Fowler finished the game with eight saves, including six in the second half, and three ground balls.
Briscoe netted another unassisted goal to make the score 13-9 with 23:34 left. The Diplomats scored the next three goals to push their lead back to seven with 7:06 to go. Rave and Bray scored two more goals apiece in the next three minutes to put a scare into the opposition. But the Franklin & Marshall goalie caused a crucial turnover by intercepting a pass in the crease on the next possession and finally ended the Continentals' comeback hopes.
Hamilton was whistled for 34 fouls, compared to F&M's 11. The Diplomats held a 32-27 edge in shots and a commanding 20-11 advantage in draw controls. Rave led Hamilton with three draw controls and Rebekah Gibson '12 caused a team-high two turnovers.
Hamilton's four-person senior class -- Briscoe, Liz Benjamin '09, Catie Gibbons '09 and Kate Marek '09 -- graduates with two NCAA final four appearances, three Liberty League tournament titles and a record of 65-12. Briscoe finished the game with two goals and one assist and ended her remarkable career with 206 goals, 134 assists and 340 points. All three figures are program records.
The Continentals are now 9-4 in five trips to the NCAA tournament. Head coach Patty Kloidt is 7-2 in NCAA games at Hamilton.