MEDFORD – The Tufts University women's lacrosse team will return to the NCAA Championship "Final Four" for the third season in a row following a 14-9 victory over Franklin & Marshall in the "Elite 8" on Sunday night at Bello Field.
Tufts (18-3) will play College of New Jersey in the semifinals next Saturday in Salem, Virginia. Middlebury and Gettysburg are the other two Final Four teams, and the national championship game is scheduled for next Sunday.
Franklin & Marshall saw its season come to an end with an 18-4 record.
After the Diplomats' Madison Bray scored the first goal of the game, Tufts' Caroline Conaghan scored twice and free-position scores by Clarke twice and Joyce helped the Jumbos take a 5-3 lead.
Ally Marino assisted a goal and scored one as Franklin & Marshall pulled within 6-5 in the middle of the second quarter. However, the Jumbos finished the half with a free-position strike by Carden and Clarke's third goal of the game for an 8-5 advantage.
Marino's up goal at 7:47 of the third had the Diplomats within 8-6, but the Jumbos responded again with goals by Conaghan and Carden to stretch their margin to 10-6 through three periods.
The same pattern continued in the fourth, as Marino and Lydia Cassilly scored for the Diplomats and they were back within two (10-8). However, the Jumbos then ran off three in a row – by Clarke while Tufts was up and free-position goals by Joyce and Delaney – for a 13-8 lead at 6:41 of the final quarter. With the weather becoming a factor as a storm approached, Cassilly for Franklin & Marshall and Caroline Walter for the Jumbos finished the scoring before Tufts was able to run out the clock for most of the final three minutes.
With four goals and two assists Clarke led the Jumbos in scoring and added five draw controls. Carden and Conaghan had three goals apiece, Delaney also won five draws, Maddy Lehan caused two turnovers and Molly Laliberty made nine saves for the Jumbos. Carden added six ground balls whille Conaghan finished with five.
For Franklin & Marshall, Marino finished with four goals and two assists. Bray caused three turnovers and Emily Kitchin the goalie made 12 saves and had three ground balls. Bray's four ground balls led the Diplomats.
Tufts had a wide 37-22 advantage in shots and draw controls (17-10) while ground balls were even 10-10.
Head coach Courtney Shute's Jumbos made previous NCAA Final Four appearances in 2019 and 2021.
Watch the Tufts Post-Game Press Conference ...