Wheatley

SALISBURY, Md. -- Salisbury advanced to the program's ninth national semifinals with an 8-6 win against Franklin & Marshall on Sunday at Sea Gull Stadium.

It was the defense leading the way for Salisbury (21-0), with sophomore Laura Maskell and the rest of the defense keeping the front of the cage clear of Diplomats. Also charged with keeping the zone free were seniors Kat Gartner and Alyssa Hardesty, junior Meghan Toomey, sophomore Dominique Dipino and freshman Allison Toomey.

Dropping back into the defense zone were midfielders Bethany Baer and Kara Koolage to lend their efforts, keeping the Franklin & Marshall (16-5) attack seven goals under its season average.

The last line of defense, keeping the Diplomats from scoring, was junior goalie Ashton Wheatley, who made several big stops throughout the contest. Wheatley finished with seven saves, five shots being fired from point-blank range.

The plan of attack on offense was different for head coach Jim Nestor and his team, as F&M guarded senior Katie Bollhorst with defender Christie Bonfiglio from the beginning whistle until the final horn, not allowing her to facilitate the Sea Gull attack.

Instead, the Sea Gulls had to play a tough, grind-it-out contest that is often seen in the playoffs. The Sea Gulls jumped out to the lead just 49 seconds into the game. Senior Lauren Feusahrens took a pass from classmate Maggie Roundy and worked the top of the offensive zone before streaking down the right side and getting a shot past F&M goalie Kelsey Hoffman. The Sea Gulls scored again just 37 seconds later.

Feusahrens set up shop behind the Diplomat goal before circling around the right side of the cage and finding Bollhorst with a cross-crease pass, which Bollhorst one-timed into the back of the net. That goal proved to be anything but typical for the Sea Gulls, as the contest slowed down from that point and it was Bollhorst's only tally of the game.

Salisbury padded its lead to 3-0 in the first half when Feusahrens netted her second and final goal of the game.

F&M answered with three goals of its own to end the half, including a free-position goal by Lauren Selawski with two seconds remaining in the first half.

The Sea Gulls answered back in the second half, opening with three consecutive goals. Salisbury's offense was effective circling the net before firing shots past Hoffman. Roundy worked that strategy in the second half to give the Sea Gulls the lead for good.

Following a goal by sophomore Kate Haker, which pushed the lead to 5-3. With 22 minutes remaining in the contest, F&M's Brittney Jorgenson, who finished the season with a team-high 49 goals for the Diplomats, tried to get a goal, but was denied.

Prior to this game, the closest game for the Sea Gulls had been six-goal affairs against this F&M squad and SUNY Cortland in a game that was played on the Diplomats' home field.

With the win, Salisbury advanced to a national semifinal against Middlebury on Saturday.