Diplomats Edge Spartans, 10-9, in NCAA Sweet 16
SALISBURY, MD – Franklin & Marshall's Maggie Mae Shields converted a free position opportunity with 30 seconds left in regulation to lift the Diplomats past the York College women's lacrosse team in the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 at Salisbury University on Saturday.
The Spartans conclude the season with a mark of 14-5. The Diplomats improve to 16-4 and advance to face second-ranked Salisbury in the regional finals on Sunday afternoon.
The Green and White clicked early but it wouldn't show on the scoreboard as the Diplomats' All-American goalie Kelsey Hoffman turned away the Spartans early and often.
While Hoffman was stunting the Spartan offense, F&M opened the scoring courtesy of a Caroline Krohn unassisted goal at the 26:26 mark. Mary Mitchell converted a free position shot just over two minutes later, giving the sixth-ranked Dips a 2-0 lead.
F&M pushed the lead to 3-0 as Krohn tallied her second goal of the day at the 19:23 mark.
Spartan senior Lauren Kula (Frederick, Md./Gov. Thomas Johnson) got her squad on the board thanks to a great feed from Megan Stine (Stevensville, Md./Annapolis Area Christian) with 18:27 left in the stanza. The Diplomats answered Kula's goal with an Ali Kelly tally as the Spartans trailed 4-1.
York got a spark from Leah Schultz (Catonsville, Md./Seton Keough) as the senior tallied back-to-back free position goals to cut the Spartan deficit to 4-3. Junior Erica Mulford (Crownsville, Md./Seton Keough) tied the game on a third straight free position shot with 9:59 left as the Spartan offense started to get rolling.
Schultz gave York their first lead of the day when she struck for an unassisted tally with 8:29 left in the half.
Mitchell notched her second goal of the day to stop the bleeding and tie the game at five but the Spartans got a pair of goals from Mulford in the final 1:47 of the half to take a 7-5 lead to the break.
The Diplomats came out of the intermission and clamped down on the Spartan offense as Hoffman again proved to be tough to solve for York.
F&M opened up the second half with three straight goals to seize the 8-7 lead. The Spartans tied the game at eight on another Schultz free position goal with 10:08 remaining in the game.
That set up a wild final ten minutes of the game. The Diplomats recaptured the lead at the 8:13 mark before the Spartans tied the game for the fifth and final time on a strange play. The Diplomat defense pushed up as there was a loose ball by midfield. A foul was called on F&M, one of their 30 for the day, and Spartan All-American Kim Wayson (Harwood, Md./Southern) found herself all alone ten yards ahead of the play on the restart. The Spartans' all-time leading scorer easily outraced the defense and beat Hoffman for the tally.
The Spartans won the following draw and Mulford drew a free position attempt at the 4:53 mark. Hoffman saved the shot and the Spartans got the rebound. Stine got another really good look, and again, Hoffman stood tall with the save, as the game remained tied with less than four minutes left.
With 2:37 left, the Diplomats were assessed a yellow card, giving the Spartans possession. After the Spartans ran through their offense, Wayson got a great shot from the left wing that Hoffman stopped in what would prove to be the Spartans' final shot. The Diplomats got the ground ball after the save and would go down and pick up the win after the Spartan foul and Shield's ensuing free position shot.
The Spartans won the draw but turned the ball over shortly after gaining possession, as they wouldn't be able to get a game-tying attempt off in the final 30 seconds of the game.
Spartan head coach Jen Muston felt her team played hard.
"We fought all day long," stated the Spartan head coach. "We just couldn't put the ball in the goal. I am very disappointed in the result but I am very proud of my kids."
The Spartans finished the game outshooting the Diplomats 25-21 while F&M held a slight 15-13 edge in ground balls. The Green and White dominated the draw, winning 14 of the game's 20 draw controls.
Hoffman finished the game with 14 saves, as she was a huge reason for the Diplomat win. York's Ashley Smith (Cinnaminson, N.J./Cinnaminson) recorded four stops for the Spartans.
Brittney Jourgenson led the Diplomats with three goals. Mitchell and Krohn each contributed four points on two goals and two assists. In addition to her game-winning goal, Shields also had three draw controls and an assist.
Schultz had a big day for York as she notched four goals including 3-of-5 on the free position. Schultz also had a game-high four draw controls for York. Mulford tallied three goals for the Spartans while Wayson and Kula each notched one goal. All-American defender Katie Vautier (Harwood, Md./Archbishop Spalding) caused a team-high three turnovers for York.
Muston now must say goodbye to the greatest and most successful class in the history of the York College women's lacrosse program. Wayson, Schultz, Vautier, Jordan Hall (Riva, Md./South River), Kula, Kasie White (Glen Burnie, Md./North County), Kelsey Evans (Bel Air, Md./Fallston), Tina Nicklas (Catonsville, Md./Catonsville), and Michelle Moore (Columbia, Md./St. Vincent Pallotti) combined to win 51 games over their four years in the Green and White. The Spartans made two CAC championship game appearances and two NCAA Tournament appearances, including the programs' first NCAA Tournament win last Wednesday against Washington & Lee.
The Spartans' 14 wins this season ties the school record that was established last season. York is 28-10 over the last two seasons.