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Hamilton tops Colby for Final 4 berth

By By HAMILTON ATHLETICS

CLINTON, N.Y. - Sarah Bray '11 scored three goals and added three assists to lead nationally ranked No. 1 and undefeated Hamilton College to a 14-9 win against No. 9 Colby College in a 2010 NCAA Division III women's lacrosse championship regional final at Hamilton's Steuben Field Sunday.

Hamilton (20-0 overall) advanced to the NCAA championship semifinals for the third straight year. The Continentals won the national title in 2008 and lost to Franklin & Marshall College in the 2009 semis. Hamilton will get a chance to avenge that 2009 loss as the teams will meet again at Gettysburg College in Gettysburg, Pa., at 11 a.m. on Saturday, May 22. Franklin & Marshall hammered University of Mary Washington 16-3 in a regional final at F & M on Sunday.

Colby (15-5) was making its first appearance in a regional final in the Mules' fourth trip to the NCAA championships. Colby dropped to 0-4 all-time against the Continentals, including a 13-6 loss at Hamilton in a 2008 regional semifinal.

Bray added three ground balls and two draw controls as the Continentals extended their home win streak to 38 games. Anne Graveley '11 chipped in four goals, one assist and two draw controls. Liz Rave '10 and Libby Schultz '12 tallied two goals apiece. Rachel Friedman '13 recorded one goal, one assist a game-high six ground balls, two draw controls and three caused turnovers.

Kate Fowler '10 made four of her five saves in the first half for Hamilton. Fowler leads Division III with a 6.19 goals against average. Lauren Sokol '12 paced the defense with four ground balls and three caused turnovers.

Kathleen Kramer '10 scored two goals and was credited with an assist for the Mules. Claire Donegan '12 was all over the field with two goals, two ground balls, two draw controls and two caused turnovers. Amy Campbell '10 scored her 50th goal of the year and picked up three assists. Caroline Duke '10 and Lucy Gerrity '13 caused two turnovers apiece. Sarah Warnke '11 started in goal and made four saves in more than 36 minutes. Keryn Meierdiercks '10 stopped five shots in relief of Warnke in the final 23:26.

Bray set the tone for the Continentals with two goals in the opening 40 seconds of the first half, and Hamilton never trailed. The score was 5-1 after Schultz tallied a goal on a feed from Graveley with 17:44 left in the first half. Schultz made it 6-2 on her 28th goal with 5:34 remaining. Kramer pulled Colby within three goals with 28.5 seconds left and the Mules trailed 6-3 at the half.

The teams provided a furious offensive pace early in the second half as 12 goals were scored in the first 10:30 after the break. The Continentals jumped out to a 9-3 advantage less than two minutes in as Graveley scored and Rave added Nos. 41 and 42 on the year.

Colby scored three of the next four to climb within 10-6, but two more Graveley goals and Bray's 28th gave Hamilton's its largest lead at 13-6. Campbell scored on a free-position shot and Casey Thomas '11 converted a nice pass from Kramer to get the Mules back to 13-8 with 19:30 remaining.

Things really settled down at that point as the Continentals concentrated on possession and Colby committed six turnovers during the next 12 minutes. Caroline Morgan '13 took a pass from Bray and came around the left side of the goal to score Hamilton's 14th of the afternoon with 7:02 left. Anne Geraghty '11 finally ended the Mules' scoring drought on her 15th goal with 2:45 remaining, but it wasn't enough to avoid the end of Colby's season.

Hamilton owned a 26-21 shot advantage and picked up 26 ground balls to 17 for the Mules. Colby won the draw control battle, 15-9, but committed 22 turnovers. The Continentals were successful on all 18 clear attempts, while the Mules were 12 of 19 on clears.

Hamilton earned an automatic bid to the NCAA championships by winning the 2010 Liberty League tournament last weekend. The Continentals received a bye into the regional semifinals, where they cruised past Kenyon College 15-3 at home on Saturday.

Colby received an at-large bid out of the New England Small College Athletic Conference after reaching the championship game of the NESCAC tournament. The Mules routed the University of Southern Maine 16-5 in the first round on May 12, and edged No. 5 SUNY Cortland 10-9 at Hamilton on May 15.

VIDEO COURTESY OF THE NCAA

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