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Hamilton back in D-III Lax title game

By By HAMILTON ATHLETICS

GETTYSBURG, Pa. - Nine players scored for Hamilton College in a 12-7 win Saturday against Franklin & Marshall College in a 2010 NCAA Division III women's lacrosse championships semifinal at Gettysburg College's Clark Field, and the undefeated Continentals are headed back to the championship game for the second time in three years.

Hamilton (21-0 overall) won the College's first NCAA team title in 2008 when the Continentals breezed to a 13-6 win against Franklin & Marshall in the final. The Diplomats exacted some revenge in the 2009 NCAA semis with a 16-13 victory against Hamilton.

The Continentals were making their third straight trip to the national semifinals. Hamilton, which tied the program record from 2008 with its 21st win this year, plays Salisbury University for the NCAA championship at Gettysburg on Sunday at noon. The game will be televised by CBS College Sports. The Continentals are the last undefeated team in NCAA lacrosse this year across both genders and all three divisions.

F & M (16-4), which was appearing in its sixth national semifinal, won national titles in 2007 and 2009. The Diplomats received an automatic bid for capturing the Centennial Conference tournament title, and blew past SUNY Brockport and University of Mary Washington in regionals.

Anne Graveley '11 led the balanced Hamilton offense with two goals and two assists. Sarah Bray '11 scored a goal and pushed her team-record assist total to 47 with a pair. Bray added three draw controls and two caused turnovers. Audrey Nebergall '10 and Rachel Friedman '13 chipped in two goals apiece. Ashley Allen '12 added a goal, two ground balls and two caused turnovers. The defense, which entered the game ranked No. 1 in Division III with a 5.85 goals against average was led by Lauren Sokol '12 and her three ground balls and three draw controls. Kate Fowler '10 made five saves.

Blake Hargest paced the Diplomats with three goals. Meredith Lussier scored twice and Sarah Veneski was credited with three assists. Meghan Cohen picked up four ground balls and caused two turnovers. Paulette Cutruzzula scooped up four ground balls and Amanda Miceli forced two miscues. Cat Serpe scored a goal and won three draw controls. Lidia Sanza made seven of her nine saves in the second half to keep F & M in the game.

Bray gave the Continentals a 1-0 lead with her 29th goal 2 minutes, 29 seconds into the first half. Laura Ruppersberger tied the score on an assist by Veneski 63 seconds later. Hamilton took the lead for good on an unassisted goal by Friedman with 23:40 left in the half. That goal was the start of a 5-0 run, and Friedman's 41st put the Continentals up 6-1 with 13:52 remaining.

The Diplomats pulled within 6-3, but Hamilton regained its five-goal lead at the half thanks to two late goals by Nebergall. The second one came with eight seconds left before the break when Nebergall picked up a loose ball just outside the crease and fired it into the back of the goal. F & M was successful on 7 of 12 clear attempts and the Diplomats took just four shots in the first 30 minutes.

Graveley and Liz Rave '10 scored 36 seconds apart to give the Continentals a comfortable 10-3 advantage early in the second half. Rave's team-leading 43rd goal on a free-position shot provided the seven-goal margin with 26:03 remaining. F & M closed to within 11-7 with 14:27 left, but the Diplomats didn't score again. Allen's 15th goal with 5:20 remaining clinched Hamilton's second title game appearance.

The Continentals held a 28-14 advantage in shots and a 13-8 edge in draw controls. Hamilton was perfect on 21 clear attempts. F & M grabbed a slight advantage in ground balls, 18-17, but committed 21 turnovers.

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