Women's Lacrosse Earns NCAA Championship Game Berth With 18-7 Win Over TCNJ

SALEM, Va. - Senior goalie Molly Laliberty made 16 saves and freshman Margie Carden scored seven goals as the Tufts University women's lacrosse team earned a spot in the NCAA Championship Game with an 18-7 win over The College of New Jersey (TCNJ) on in the "FInal Four" on Saturday.

Head coach Courtney Shute's Jumbos (19-3) will play conference rival Middlebury College in the national championship game on Sunday at 3:30 pm. The Panthers (21-1) won 18-5 over Gettysburg in Saturday's other semifinal at Kerr Stadium on the campus of Roanoke College.

Tufts started off slow today with TCNJ (18-3) scoring first and forcing turnovers defensively. The Lions won the opening draw control, kept possession and got a goal from Jennifer LaRocca at 13:15 for a 1-0 lead. However, once the Jumbos scored their first at 5:13 of the opening quarter - Carden from Mae Briody - the tide turned.

Backed by Laliberty, who would save 11 of the 13 shots she saw in the first half, the Jumbos streaked to a 10-2 halftime lead. Carden scored three times in the first, though TCNJ was within 4-2 when LaRocca tallied off free position with 21 seconds left in the period. However, the Jumbos outscored the Lions 6-0 in the second quarter with three more from Carden and one each from Caroline Walter, Caroline Conaghan and Madeline Delaney.

The Jumbos continued to roll into the second half, scoring five in a row to open the third period for a 15-2 advantage and running time. Four different Jumbos had the goals, with two by Ella Lesperance.

The Lions would score four in a row from late in the third until halfway into the fourth, started by Anna Devlin's free-position goal with 10 seconds left in the third quarter. Ally Tobler then had back-to-back strikes and LaRocca stopped the clock temporarily with another making the score 15-6. The Jumbos would net three of the final four goals though, including Lesperance's third of the game, for the 18-7 ending.

Laliberty finished with a .695 save percentage, stopping 16 of the Lions' 23 shots on goal. Her four ground balls also led Tufts. Becca Gable caused two turnovers defensively and Kathryn Delaney won four draw controls. Emma Joyce and Anna Clarke both scored twice for Tufts.

LaRocca scored four times with two assists for TCNJ. Jillian Westerby collected four ground balls, and Sabrina Phillips finished with eight draws while also causing two turnovers. Julia Charest stopped nine shots in goal.

The stats were closer than the score, with shots going 35-33 for Tufts and ground balls favoring TCNJ 17-15. The Lions had one more draw control (14-13). The Jumbos were 5 for 10 on free-position chances.

The seven goals for Carden give her 68 this season, a new Tufts record.

Tomorrow will be the third meeting of Tufts and Middlebury this season. The Panthers won the regular-season game 14-7, but Tufts won the NESCAC Championship Game 9-8 over the Panthers in Vermont.

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