GAMBIER, Ohio – The Franklin & Marshall women's lacrosse team is headed back to the Final Four for the 12th time in program history (ninth in the NCAA era) following an 18-13 win against No. 18 Pomona-Pitzer on Sunday afternoon. The Diplomats (18-4) will be making their first appearance in the national semifinals since back-to-back trips during the 2015 and 2016 seasons.
The Diplomats put the pressure on early and rode that strong opening half to a win as they were up 7-3 following a strong 15 minutes, but added to that advantage during a 5-1 second quarter. Four different F&M players recorded hat tricks in the victory, led by five goals and one assist from Sydney Lowe. Gillian Brennan added four goals and one assist, with Lydia Cassilly (3 g, 3a) and Maddy Birch (3g) routinely finding their chances to score. Lane Lambeth (2g) and Lauren Pittman (1g, 1a) also had multiple points throughout the victory.
Pomona-Pitzer found itself leading 3-2 midway through the opening quarter, but the Diplomats closed the opening half on a 10-1 run and never looked back from that 12-4 advantage during the second half. Lowe and Cassilly both had two goals during that offensive outburst which featured four goals during the final 3:25 of the opening quarter.
The furious attack continued into the second quarter as Brennan scored twice during that period, while Cassilly, Pittman, and Birch were also keys in a 5-0 run to close the first half. Following the first 30 minutes of game action, the Diplomats had a 20-9 advantage in shots and were a very efficient 12-of-14 in converting their shots on goal into offense. Those totals included four free-position goals in the opening half.
The Sage Hens started both the third and fourth quarters with the first three goals of those periods. The initial 3-0 surge trimmed F&M's lead to 12-7 before two more goals from Lowe helped the Diplomats maintain their 15-9 lead heading into the fourth quarter. Pomona-Pitzer's first three goals during the final 15 minutes had the lead down to three, but the Diplomats were not going to be denied as they went back to three of their offensive leaders as Lowe, Brennan, and Birch each scored down the stretch. Those final two goals came in the final 61 seconds of regulation to add the final insurance tallies.
Franklin & Marshall finished the game with a 32-19 advantages in shots. Alyssa Moran tied for the game high with four saves. The Diplomats once again held the advantage in draw controls, snagging a 20-15 edge in the restarts. Ava Turner was huge on those restarts as she grabbed eight draw controls. Madison Bray, Julia Carbon, and Lambeth each had at least three draw controls. F&M also gained a number of extra possessions by limiting the Sage Hens to just 13-of-19 on their clear attempts. Kate McLam and Moran each caused a pair of turnovers to lead 12 Diplomats who forced at least one giveaway.
While celebrating the team's return to the Final Four, the Diplomats will now prepare for No. 1 Middlebury as the national tournament heads to Salem, Virginia and Kerr Stadium for the final weekend of action. The Diplomats and Panthers will be the first of two games on Friday, May 26 during their 12 p.m. opening draw. No. 3 William Smith and No. 9 Gettysburg will play in the second semifinal, with the winners advancing to meet on Sunday, May 28 at noon for the NCAA Division III National Championship.