Salisbury falls to Franklin & Marshall, 6-5, in overtime thriller

Salisbury falls to Franklin & Marshall, 6-5, in overtime thriller

SALISBURY, Md. – After advancing to its 15th NCAA Division III Women's Lacrosse Tournament regional final game, the No. 3 Salisbury University women's lacrosse team fell just short to Franklin & Marshall, 6-5, in overtime in the regional finals.

In overtime, the Diplomats won the opening draw control and held possession for just over a minute before Grace Saliba found Gabby Frank, who cut into the middle of the fan and scored the game-winning goal.

Junior Kacy Koolage won the opening draw control of the game and the Sea Gulls held onto possession for the first three and a half minutes; Koolage tallied a season-high four draws in the contest.

Despite the long possession, Salisbury could not get on the scoreboard, as Franklin & Marshall caused a turnover, but the Sea Gulls got the ball back when junior Kieran Kelleher caused a turnover of her own and junior Kayla Miller picked up the groundball at 24:48.  

While Salisbury had possession, sophomore Emma Wall fired off a shot at 23:59, but it sailed just over the crossbar.

The Diplomats got the ball back at 23:30 and struck first a minute later when Page Moriarty scored an unassisted goal to go up 1-0.

The Sea Gulls answered back over the next seven minutes with two-straight goals to take a 2-1 lead in the first half.

At 16:43, sophomore Kristen Murphy scored the first goal of the run after she took a ball from junior Gabbi Nieves, cut into the middle, and finished to the left of Franklin & Marshall goalkeeper Danielle Harrington.

Koolage won the subsequent draw control and the Gulls held possession before junior Hannah Young dashed into the fan and got fouled; Young finished with a low free-position shot to put Salisbury up 2-1 with 15:22 left in the first half.

Franklin & Marshall took back the momentum over the next eight minutes, retaliating with two-straight goals of its own to take a 3-2 advantage with 7:24 remaining in the opening stanza. Saliba and Anastasia Mergner both scored goals during the spurt.

The next five minutes consisted of back-and-forth action, and Salisbury caused two turnovers, including one that sophomore goalkeeper Gianna Falcone caused after reaching her stick out and disrupting a pass meant to go over the goal.

After Falcone's caused turnover, the Gulls capitalized when Wall put one in on a free-position shot to even the score at 3-3 heading into halftime.

The Diplomats opened up the second half on fire, scoring two goals during the first two and a half minutes. Mergner scored off an assist from Maddie Hughes to go up 4-3, before Natalie Delinsky took a ball from Saliba and put it in to take a 5-3 lead with 27:35 left in the second.

For the next nine and a half minutes, neither team would score, and for over five minutes of that span, Franklin & Marshall maintained possession.

After another caused turnover by Falcone and a groundball at 20:58, Salisbury cleared the ball and set up its offense.

At 18:15, the Gulls broke into the Diplomats' lead when Nieves put one into the back of the net.  On an errant pass towards the crease, Nieves reached her stick out and slapped the ball into the middle of the net to put the score at 5-4.

Salisbury's defense held its ground over the next 13 minutes, not allowing Franklin & Marshall to score; at 13:55 Morarty took a shot that went off the right post, and over two minutes later, Mergner took a shot on goal that Falcone was able to save.

The Diplomats kept possession and continued to attempt to run the clock down with a one-goal lead, but at 5:05, Koolage smacked the ball out of Saliba's stick and scooped up the ground ball to give the ball back to the Sea Gulls.

One and a half minutes later, Salisbury came up with the big equalizer when sophomore Dana King rocketed a pass just in front of the crease that a cutting Gabrielle Mongno was able to control and put into the goal to tie the game at 5-5.

Mergner won the next draw control, and Franklin & Marshall milked the clock until there was 20 seconds left before it started to attack.

With 14 seconds on the clock, Saliba took a potential game-winning shot, but Falcone came up with a huge save to send the game into overtime.

The Gulls used a balanced effort offensively, with five different players scoring. Miller led the team with two groundballs on defense, while Falcone tallied two saves in front of the net.

Salisbury finished the season with an 18-3 record, and had three All-Americans in senior Megan Wallenhorst (first team), Nieves (first team), and Falcone (third team).

The senior class, consisting of Wallenhorst, Samantha Duranti, and Chelsea Weinstein, were a big part of the Sea Gulls' two national championships in 2013-14 and led the team to a 78-8 overall record during their tenures with the team. 

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