Navy advances to lacrosse National Championship

Monday's NCAA final will be Navy's first since 1975. The game will face-off at 2:30pm at Baltimore's M&T Bank Stadium, and will be broadcast worldwide on ESPN.

BALTIMORE, Md. -- Navy withstood multiple Princeton rallies to hold off the Tigers, 8-7, Saturday afternoon in an NCAA Semifinal Game at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore. The victory advances Navy to Monday's NCAA Championship Game for just the second time in the program's history.

The game will begin at 2:30 p.m. and will be televised by ESPN and carried over the radio and on the internet by WNAV-AM 1430 (www.wnav.com).

"We are obviously very excited to win the game and beat a great team like Princeton," said Navy head coach Richie Meade. "I thought it would be a close game. We could never pull away from them."

"This was a great event to be a part of. It's so hard to describe and then it's even better than that," said Princeton head coach Bill Tierney. "We overachieved and persevered all year and today we lost to a better team. If today is the worst thing that ever happens to these guys then we will have a lot of successful young men."

Navy quickly jumped out to a 2-0 lead. Adam Reel scored first for the Mids with 9:20 remaining in the first period, followed by Graham Gill adding his first goal of the game with 6:01 left to play. The Tigers cut the deficit to one goal at the 5:02 mark and then tied the game on a Mac Bryson goal just past the three minute mark. The two goals came on the Tigers' lone two shots of the quarter. Gill added another Navy goal with 1:54 showing on the clock to give Navy a 3-2 advantage at the end of the period.

Princeton controlled the clock at the start of the second period, winning the face off and keeping Navy on defense for nearly five minutes. The Mids overcame a man-down situation for 30 seconds, but Bryson added his second goal of the day to tie the score with 10:09 on the clock.

Navy's Ben Bailey struck twice in a span of 18 seconds, ripping a shot past goalie Dave Law with 1:38 to play then, after the Mids won the face off, Bailey scored again off a pass from Billy Looney with 1:20 to play to give the Mids a 5-3 lead. The teams went into the locker room with Navy holding a 5-4 lead following Drew Casino's second goal of the half with 29 seconds to play.

Navy goalie Matt Russell, who had only one save during the first half, came to life in the third period with a diving save during a man-down situation just one minute into the quarter. A few minutes later, Princeton scored the equalizing goal on a tally from Ryan Boyle at the 9:44 mark. After both teams missed several scoring opportunities, the Mids scored back-to-back goals in the final 93 seconds of the period. Joe Bossi notched his 42nd goal of the season with 1:33 to play, then Billy Looney ripped a shot from 10-yards out with 43 seconds to play to give Navy its third two-goal advantage of the contest at 7-5.

"Princeton shot the ball very well today," said Russell. "I'm not making excuses, I should have played a lot better, but you have to give them some credit. At the half I told myself I had to turn it on and I felt like I played better in the second half. My teammates bailed me out in the first half."

The two-goal advantage lasted until early in the fourth quarter when Bryson picked up his third goal of the game off a feed from Boyle. Princeton came close to tying the game when Jason Donegar's shot hit the left post. The rebound caromed directly to Navy's Bucky Morris who started the Navy fast break. Morris quickly fed Ian Dingman who found Jon Birsner on the left side of the crease for a goal nine seconds after the Princeton attempt that made the score 8-6 with 8:33 to play in the game.

The Tigers, however, would not go away, cutting the deficit back to one goal at 8-7 on a goal from Peter Trombino with 4:50 to play. The Mids were able to once again win the face off and picked up a shot on the ensuing possession, which was saved by Law with 3:35 to play. Princeton worked the ball around the field but threw it away on a bad pass 65 seconds later. As Navy tried to clear the ball, it ended up being deflected back towards the Navy goal. A diving Russell was able to slide his stick over the ball and under a sliding Princeton player.

Navy eventually cleared the ball and kept it in their offensive end until a Navy timeout with 45 seconds to play. After working the ball around the back of the field, Gill raced towards an empty Princeton goal but his shot hit the right post and saw his ball bounce out of bounds with 33 seconds to play. After a Princeton time out, the Tigers advanced the ball over the midfield line and called another timeout with 21 seconds left in the game.

"I knew there was only about 30 seconds left in the game, but I felt like if I scored there the game was over," said Gill. "My heart sank when the ball hit the pipe."

Russell then made his second great save of the game off a point-blank shot from Trombino from about four yards out to preserve the Navy victory.

Navy's Chris Pieczonka, who won 12 of his 13 faceoffs last week against Cornell, dominated the faceoffs for Navy once again, winning 15 of the 19 faceoffs in the game. The Mids also dominated the ground balls in the contest, grabbing 43 in the game to Princeton's 27.

"The faceoff advantage was big for us," said Meade. "They can't score if they don't have the ball. Pieczonka has been dominant at the x for us during this tournament."

Navy will play the winner of Saturday's second game between Johns Hopkins and Syracuse. Navy dropped a 10-9 overtime decision to Johns Hopkins on April 24 at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, while the Mids have not played Syracuse since May 22, 1989, when Syracuse won 18-11. Navy leads the all-time series against the Orange, 18-6-1, while Johns Hopkins holds a 49-25-1 series advantage and have won 30-straight against the Midshipmen, the longest winning streak by school over another in NCAA Division I lacrosse history.

"We're very happy to be playing Monday," said Meade. "We have a rich storied lacrosse past. It's been frustrating over the last five years to be so close and come up short in one goal games so I'm gratified for our players and for all the players who have played here in the past that they have their day in the sun right now."

NAVY GAME NOTES

  • Navy is 4-1 in one-goal games; three of Navy's last four games have been one-goal Navy victories.
  • Navy is 14-0 when leading at the half.
  • Navy advanced to its second NCAA Championship Game (1975, L to Maryland, 20-3).
  • Navy improved to 2-6 in semifinal games.
  • Navy improved to 8-0 away from Annapolis this year, with six of those wins coming over ranked teams.
  • Navy has defeated three Ivy League teams during the NCAA Tournament * 11-5, Penn; 6-5, Cornell; 8-7, Princeton.
  • Navy never trailed in the game.
  • Navy improves to 15-2 on the season, extending its school record for the most wins in a season.
  • Navy's lacrosse team will attempt to win the sixth NCAA national title in Naval Academy history, joining men's fencing (1955, '56, '62); men's soccer (1964), men's outdoor track and field (1945).
  • Navy's defense is surrendering an average of 6.0 goals a game over the last five games.
  • This was the 12th game this year that Navy has had at least six different players tally goals.
  • Ian Dingman's assist gave him 58 points this year and moved him into sole possession of ninth place for the most points
  • Graham Gill has totaled seven multi-goal games this year, while Ben Bailey has totaled six such games this year.

Team

1

2

3

4

F

#6 Princeton (11-4)

2

3

1

2

7

#2 Navy (15-2)

3

2

2

1

8

Princeton (G-A-P): Ryan Boyle (1-3-4), Mac Bryson (3-0-3), Drew Casino (2-0-2), Ryan Boyle, Peter Trombino (1-0-1), Whitney Hayes (0-1-1), John Robinson (0-1-1), Tim Sullivan (0-1-1)

Navy (G-A-P): Graham Gill (2-0-2), Ben Bailey (2-0-2), Billy Looney (1-1-2), Adam Reel (1-1-2), Joe Bossi (1-0-1), Jon Birsner (1-0-1), Ian Dingman (0-1-1),

Shots: Princeton (22) 2-8-3-9; Navy (32) 8-7-11-6
Ground Balls: Princeton (27) 8-7-3-9; Navy (43) 10-10-16-7
Saves: Princeton (8) 1-3-1-3; Navy (5) 0-1-1-3
Turnovers: Princeton (10) 3-2-4-1; Navy (10) 2-2-4-2
Face-Offs: Princeton 4 for 19; Navy 15 for 19
Clears: Princeton 14 for 17; Navy 12 for 14
Extra-Man: Princeton 0 for 2; Navy 0 for 1

Scoring Summary
N * P Time Team Goal / Assists

First Quarter
1 * 0 9:20 Navy Adam Reel (6) / unassisted
2 * 0 6:01 Navy Graham Gill (22) / unassisted
2 * 1 5:02 Prin Drew Casino (22) / Whitney Hayes
2 - 2 2:57 Prin Mac Bryson (7) / Ryan Boyle
3 * 2 1:54 Navy Graham Gill (23) / unassisted

Second Quarter
3 * 3 10:09 Prin Mac Bryson (8) / John Robinson
4 * 3 1:38 Navy Ben Bailey (18) / unassisted
5 * 3 1:20 Navy Ben Bailey (19) / Billy Looney
5 * 4 0:29 Prin Drew Casino (23) / unassisted

Third Quarter
5 * 5 9:44 Prin Ryan Boyle (23) / Tim Sullivan
6 * 5 1:33 Navy Joe Bossi (42) / Adam Reel
7 * 5 0:43 Navy Billy Looney (12) / unassisted

Fourth Quarter
7 - 6 9:44 Prin Mac Bryson (9) / Ryan Boyle
8 - 6 8:33 Navy Jon Birsner (19) / Ian Dingman
8 - 7 4:59 Prin Peter Trombino (24) / Ryan Boyle


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