MEDFORD, Mass. – The Franklin & Marshall women's lacrosse team saw its run into the postseason come to a close with a 14-9 loss at Tufts on Sunday night. The Diplomats (18-4) went toe-to-toe with last year's national runner-up, but the Jumbos (18-3) ultimately prevailed on their home field and secured their ticket in the Final Four.
Senior captain Ally Marino once again led the offense with four goals and two assists on the evening. Lydia Cassilly added two more goals and one assist, while Madison Bray, Maddy Birch, and Lane Lambeth each rattled the back of the cage once. In a matchup of perhaps the two best goalies in Division III, Emily Kitchin made 12 saves, but 13 free-position shots – seven of which were scored – proved too much for the Diplomats to overcome.
Just like the Sweet 16 contest yesterday, Franklin & Marshall got on the board first as Bray struck at the 8:45 mark of the opening period. Lambeth and Marino also tallied during the opening period of play, but three goals in a span of 1:14 helped the hosts to a 5-3 lead after 15 minutes.
Striking first would become a common theme for the Diplomats on Sunday evening as they did so during all four quarters. Birch set the tone during the second as she tallied just 58 seconds into that period, while Marino scored her second of the night midway through the period to get F&M back to within a single goal at 6-5. However, Tufts again closed strong with two goals over the final three-plus minutes of the opening half and carried an 8-5 advantage into the locker room.
The Jumbos lined up for numerous free-position shots throughout the night, but the Diplomats were finally able to capitalize on one of their own to start the third period as Marino finished that chance just 1:33 into the second half. Nevertheless, Tufts answered that early tally just 14 seconds later and eventually took a 10-6 lead into the final 15 minutes.
Not going to go down without a fight, F&M scored the first two goals of the fourth quarter to make it a 10-8 battle with 12:27 left in regulation time. Marino scored the opening goal during that period and fed Cassilly exactly one minute later to help bring the Diplomats back within two goals. Just when it looked like the momentum might be swinging in F&M's favor, Tufts answered those goals with four of the final five scores to wrap up the victory. Cassilly was able to get her second goal of the night with 4:25 showing on the scoreboard to set the score at 13-9. However, the final goal went to the Jumbos during the eventual 14-9 final.
With the help of those 13 free-position shots, compared to just four that were awarded to the Diplomats, Tufts finished with a 37-22 edge in shots. The Diplomats once again won the turnover battle, 17-14, as each side finished with 10 ground balls. In addition to winning four draw controls, Bray also led the team with three of the Diplomats' nine caused turnovers. Kitchin finished the contest with a team-best three ground balls.
After posting the team's most wins since the 2018 season, F&M was making an appearance in the Elite 8 for the 21st time in school history. The Diplomats will certainly celebrate and remember this year's senior class for its numerous contributions and accolades, but will also reload as the team has made seven trips to at least the Elite 8 under head coach Mike Faith. They will return a number of talented players who played key roles in this year's success and will now look to step into the leadership roles left by the talented graduating class.