GAMBIER, Ohio – For the 24th time in program history, the Franklin & Marshall women's lacrosse team is headed to the Elite 8 of the national tournament as the Diplomats dispatched of Denison by a 15-6 score on Saturday afternoon. With the victory, No. 8 F&M will now play the winner of No. 18 Pomona-Pitzer and No. 21 Kenyon on Sunday for a spot in next weekend's Final Four. That game against the host Owls or Sage Hens is set for a 2:30 p.m. opening draw in Gambier, Ohio.
Maddy Birch (4 goals) and Lane Lambeth (3 goals) paced nine different goal scorers for the Diplomats throughout Saturday's Sweet 16 matchup. Lambeth was especially precise with her shooting as she rattled the back of the cage with each of her three shots on goal. Birch tied for the team in points with Lydia Cassilly (2 goals, 2 assists) and Lauren Pittman (1 goal, 3 assists).
Franklin & Marshall got out to an early 3-2 lead after the first period behind a pair of man-up conversions from Birch and Lambeth on free-position attempts. A second goal from Birch off a pass from Cassilly gave F&M a 2-1 lead for its first advantage of the afternoon.
The Diplomats would not trail again the rest of the afternoon as Birch finished her hat trick with 10:36 to play in the first half, while Abby Gravel, Madison Bray, and Pittman all added their name to the scoresheet during a run that made the score 7-2 with just under five minutes remaining in the second period. Cassilly's first goal of the afternoon made the score an 8-4 advantage after 30 minutes of action.
Showing no signs of letting down after the half, F&M scored three of the four third quarter goals as part of a 12-4 advantage during the final 45 minutes. Birch and Lambeth continued their scoring onslaught during that period, with Gillian Brennan also getting into the mix midway through the third. F&M capped the win by scoring four of the final five goals during a 7-2 second half edge. Sarah Delaney and Sarah Bowyer both scored during those final 15 minutes as Lambeth and Cassilly continued their strong performances.
F&M finished the game with a 40-21 advantage in shots on goal thanks in part to a defense that limited Denison just 14-of-20 on its clearing attempts. Delaney Liston forced two of the Diplomats' nine caused turnovers on the afternoon. During the limited chances the Big Red had on the attack, Alyssa Moran stepped up to stop six of those 12 shots on goal before Molly Donatelli finished off the final minutes of the NCAA Tournament victory.
The Diplomats also held the edge in draw controls (13-11) and ground balls (22-16), while finishing 4-of-5 on their free-position attempts. Nine different players picked up at least one draw control, led by Ava Turner's three on the afternoon. Caroline Findlay's four ground balls led six F&M players who scooped up multiple GBs.