May 22, 2010

By Jeff Seidel
Special to NCAA.com

GETTYSBURG, Pa. - Hamilton entered Saturday's Division III national semifinal against Franklin & Marshall with a simple goal - to get off to a good start.

The Continentals did exactly what they wanted, jumping to a 6-1 lead just over 16 minutes into the game en route to a 12-7 victory over the defending national champion at Gettysburg College.

That quick lead removed a lot of the steam from the Diplomats, who never drew closer than three goals again.
"I was a little shocked," said Hamilton's Rachel Friedman, who scored two goals. "It really boosted our confidence."

The good start let Hamilton (21-0) remain in control and slow the pace. The Continentals used up long stretches of time when they gained possession, which effectively wiped out any chance of a Franklin & Marshall rally.

They also were very patient on offense, outshooting the Diplomats 28-14. Plus, they converted on all 21 clears while forcing Franklin & Marshall (16-4) to succeed on just 15 of 20.

But Hamilton coach Patty Kloidt liked how her team stayed tough when Franklin & Marshall tried to rally in the second half. The Diplomats cut the lead to 11-7 with 14:27 left, but the Continentals didn't waver and shut out Franklin & Marshall the rest of the way.

"They're not afraid of momentum and stress," said Kloidt. "We've learned how to ride the wave of the teams making a run."

A HELPING HAND: Salisbury coach Jim Nestor's team is still looking for its first national title. If the Sea Gulls play offense in Sunday's title game against Hamilton like they did in the semifinals, they just may get it.
Salisbury (20-1) rolled to a 20-12 victory over host Gettysburg (18-4). In that win, the Sea Gulls finished with assists on all but one of the goals, and they totaled 39 points.

"I thought we played very well," Nestor said. "The girls were very disciplined. They found the open players, and they put their opportunities away."

Five Sea Gulls scored at least six points. Kim Cudmore led the way with two goals and six assists for eight points.

"We just got pumped up," said Allie Wheatley, who had five goals and two assists. "We knew what we had to do, and we did i."

This will be Salisbury's fourth try for a national championship. The Sea Gulls are ranked No. 2 in the country, and Hamilton is No. 1.

A GOOD ACCOMPLISHMENT: Franklin & Marshall would have liked a chance to repeat as national champion. But the Diplomats came up short in their loss to Hamilton.

Still, Franklin & Marshall turned a few heads by making it to the Final Four. The Diplomats lost several key players from last year's championship team, and they felt that some weren't taking them very seriously.

"No one thought we'd make it to the Final Four except us," said coach Lauren Paul. "We wanted everything."

The Diplomats couldn't bounce back from an early 6-1 deficit. They made Hamilton work hard in the second half, but the deficit was too big to overcome.

But making it this far with a team that had just five seniors on a 26-player roster sets a good foundation for the next few years.

A TOUGH DECISION: Gettysburg coach Carol Cantele was faced with a painful decision in Saturday's semifinal against Salisbury, one that coaches rarely like.

Kristen Krammer was a four-year starter in goal for the Bullets and the school's career leader in wins. But she struggled against Salisbury, and Cantele finally pulled her early in the second half of the 20-12 loss.

Krammer played most of the team's minutes this year but gave up 14 goals and made only two saves before Cantele replaced her with Laura McIntyre. She made two quick saves and finished with three.

But Cantele wants Krammer to remember that she had a great career, not just a shaky game at the end.

"She's been one dynamic, fantastic keeper for us," Cantele said. "She just had an off day today. [She] had a tremendous career here."