May 16, 2010

Courtesy of Franklin & Marshall College

LANCASTER, Pa. - Lidia Sanza recorded seven saves and intercepted three passes to hold down the back end of the field in Franklin & Marshall's 16-3 walk by Mary Washington in the NCAA Division III Regional Semifinals. The victory propelled the Diplomats into the National Championship weekend for the fourth straight-year.

The Diplomats' (16-3) defense, ranked second in the country, held Mary Washington's (14-6) 14th ranked offense in check throughout. The Eagles were limited to 16 shots, well below the 35 Mary Washington averaged coming into the game. The Eagles' Catherine Kennedy, ranked eighth in the nation in goals per game, was limited to a pair, one of which was a pass that deflected off an F&M defender past Sanza.

Sanza ended Mary Washington's first two offensive possessions, stuffing Katie Wallis on the goal circle, then picking off an Allie Kimmelman over-the-net-feed attempt. It went like that all afternoon for the Eagles.

Franklin & Marshall got the early jump when Sarah Veneski finished a quick-stick feed from Blake Hargest at 25:10. The next 13 minutes belonged to both teams' defenses. It was a defensive miscue that finally opened the game up to the F&M offense. Katie Delaney intercepted a clearing pass and rolled straight to the birds' cage to make it 2-0 with 12:27. Delaney finished the day with career highs of four goals and five assists.

After waiting 13 minutes in between goals, the Diplomats needed only 42 seconds before Erin Dunne punched in the first of her three on the day, and another 37 seconds for Meredith Lussier to score the first of her four, making it 4-0 with 11:08 in the first half.

Mary Washington did not get into the scoreboard until 25:09 had elapsed in the game. The Diplomats took a 7-2 lead into the break.

F&M came out of the halftime break with five goals over the first ten minutes of the second half to snuff out any comeback hopes for the Eagles. Lussier and Delaney each scored a pair in the stretch, while Delaney assisted Hargest in the run that made it 12-2 with 24:19 to play.

Hargest wrapped the game with three goals and an assist. Veneski had a goal and three helpers.

With the victory, the Diplomats earned the right to head an hour west on U.S. 30 to the familiar turf of Clark Field at Gettysburg for NCAA Championship weekend. F&M will face Hamilton in the NCAA semifinals for the second consecutive season, and on championship weekend for the third straight year. Hamilton dashed the Diplomats hopes of a second consecutive title game with a decisive win in the 2008 NCAA Championship game. F&M repaid the favor in the semis last year en route to the NCAA title.