No. 2 Salisbury Outguns No. 4 Bullets for Spot in Finals

GETTYSBURG, Pa. The Salisbury University women's lacrosse team will get the opportunity to play for the program's first national championship on Sunday; the Sea Gulls defeated host institution Gettysburg College 20-12 in the second of two national semifinal games on Saturday afternoon in front of 1,234 in attendance at Clark Field.

Salisbury (20-1) will square off with No. 1 Hamilton College (21-0) in the national championship on Sunday, May 23, at noon. The game will air live on CBS College Sports Network.

The Continentals dethroned Franklin & Marshall, 12-7, in the first national semifinal on Saturday afternoon. F&M won the 2009 national title with an 11-10 overtime victory over the Sea Gulls.

The last time Hamilton and Salisbury met was on March 18, 2009 with the Gulls prevailing 12-9 in San Antonio, Texas in a regular season contest. These two teams met in the 2008 national semifinals, with Hamilton coming out on top 11-10; the Continentals went on to win the national championship.

In Saturday's semifinal win, the action was played at a frantic pace as the two teams each scored five goals in the first 10 minutes. Gettysburg opened up the contest with an unassisted goal scored by Lexie Hearn just 54 seconds in.

The Sea Gulls tied things up less than a minute later as senior midfielder Beth Rhodey (Fallston, Md.) fired home a goal off an assist from senior attacker Kim Cudmore (Bel Air, Md.). SU took a two-goal advantage as junior attacker Trish DiGirolomo (Davidsonville, Md.) and Cudmore each netted their first goals of the day.

The next 20 minutes of the half were played at a more controlled pace, as the two teams began to run their offensive sets. Gettysburg jumped out to a 7-5 advantage as Hannah Church scored one goal and dished out the assist on the seventh goal with 17 minutes remaining in the stanza.

The Gulls ripped off three-straight goals to take the lead as junior midfielder Aileen McCausland (Phoenix, Md.), senior midfielder Jessica Chmielewski (Woodbine, Md.) and Rhodey all added goals with less than 10 minutes remaining in the frame.

Junior goalkeeper Julie Ann Caulfield (Drexel Hill, Pa.) made the play of the half as she stifled Church on a two-on-one Gettysburg fast break. Over the final eight minutes of the half, the Sea Gulls outscored the Bullets 3-2 for the 11-9 halftime advantage.

Despite leading at the half, the Sea Gulls were outshot, 19-15, and won just seven draw controls compared to 14 for Gettysburg in the first 30 minutes. Caulfield posted seven saves in that time.

The Sea Gull offense kept its foot on the gas pedal to start the second half starting with three unanswered goals in the first four minutes, including a pair of goals by sophomore midfielder Allie Wheatley (Cambridge, Md.). The Bullets ended the run with a pair of goals by Nina Emala to close the score to 14-11, but that was as close as they would get. The Sea Gulls outscored the Bullets 5-1 over the final 20 minutes of action, including a goal by DiGirolomo with eight seconds remaining.

"I would have never expected that we would score 20 goals against their defense," said SU head coach Jim Nestor. "We worked on practicing against their zone all week and the girls did a great job of executing today."

The Salisbury offense was led by Cudmore, who finished with eight points on two goals and six assists. Chmielewski (one goal, six assists), Rhodey (three goals, four assists) and Wheatley (five goals, two assists) all tallied seven points in the contest. McCausland was not far behind with six points, as she scored five goals and handed out one helper.

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