Diplomats Defeat Salisbury in Overtime Thriller to Advance to Final Four

Diplomats Defeat Salisbury in Overtime Thriller to Advance to Final Four

SALISBURY, Md. - Gabby Frank buried a pass from Grace Saliba just 63 seconds into overtime to deliver No. 6 Franklin & Marshall a 6-5 win over No. 3 Salisbury and send the Diplomats to the NCAA Women's Lacrosse Final Four for the second consecutive year. The victory is the first over Salisbury since 2011 and improves F&M's record to 21-2 while the Sea Gulls dropped to 18-3.

Click here to watch the game-winning goal.

Both teams used long methodical offensive possessions to control the pace of the game and F&M took advantage early when Paige Moriarty struck unassisted eight minutes into the game. Salisbury answered with two straight to go up 2-1, but the Diplomats countered with two of their own for a 3-2 edge.

Saliba connected with Frank for the first goal and Anastasia Mergner netted a pass from Maddie Hughes for the second tally at 7:24. Emma Wall put one through for Salisbury with a little over two minutes on the clock to make it 3-3 at the break.

F&M came out in the second with two goals in the opening 2:25 of the stanza. Mergner finished off a pass from Hughes 1:09 into the half before Saliba fed Natalie Delinsky at 27:35 to put F&M up 5-3. Salisbury came within one, 5-4, with a goal at 18:15 and netted the equalizer at 3:38 to make it 5-5.

The Diplomats won the ensuing draw and took the clock down to 30 seconds before running their offense. Saliba had a good look with 14 ticks on the clock, but Gianna Falcone came away with the save to send the game into overtime.

Mergner won the draw to start the extra frame and F&M quickly set up in its offense. Saliba set up behind the net on the right side and found Frank cutting who buried the ball in the bottom of the net for the game-winner.

Mergner finished with two goals while Saliba struck once and handed out two assists. Hughes had two assists and Moriarty along with Frank and Delinsky all scored a goal for F&M. Frank also added an assist.

Mergner paced the defense with two caused turnovers and two ground balls to go along with four draw controls. Sarah Bozzo added two ground balls and Danielle Harrington improved to 17-1 with one stop. Falcone took the loss for Salisbury with two saves.

F&M held a slight 10-9 edge in shots, held a 7-6 advantage in draws and went 8-for-8 in clear attempts.

The Diplomats will face the winner of Trinity and TCNJ in next weekend's semifinal game at noon or 3:00 p.m. with the winner advancing to the national championship game on Sunday at 3:30 p.m. Both games will be played at Talen Energy Stadium in Chester, Pa. Stay tuned to GoDiplomats.com for more details later in the week.