Commodores prepare for lacrosse Final Four

Vanderbilt's women's lacrosse team meets top-ranked Princeton Friday at 6 p.m. in the NCAA Final Four at Princeton, N.J. The winner advances to meet the Georgetown-Virginia winner Sunday at 2 p.m. ET in the national championship match. Vanderbilt head coach Cathy Swezey talked Tuesday about the Commodores' upcoming semifinal match with the No. 1 Tigers.

Vanderbilt clinched an automatic bid to the 16-team NCAA Tournament by winning the 2004 American Lacrosse Conference championship. Cathy Swezey's Commodores advanced to this week's Final Four with wins over Loyola and James Madison.

Coach Swezey talked Tuesday by teleconference about the team's upcoming match with the No. 1 Princeton Tigers.


Vanderbilt Head Coach Cathy Swezey: Our senior leadership has been tremendous. All the coaches know that leadership is one of the most important ingredients to a successful season. Our girls have been determined and hard-working. They've really set a great example for our young players.

When asked to single out some of her top players: I'd have to mention our captains. That's Jess Roguski, Michelle Allen and Joanna Moody. Bridget Morris has been a great leader as well. All of our seniors have stepped up and led our team.

On the team's outstanding defensive effort in the first two rounds: As a defensive unit we've really improved throughout the season. We had the athletic ability. It was just a matter of trying to get them to play as a unit. We feel right now that's exactly what they're doing. Team defense is a lot more dangerous than any one player that's good. That's what our strength is. I guess it's no secret at this point that Bridget Morris has been playing really well as a defender for us.

On making the Final Four for the first time: I didn't go into coaching thinking [we would make the Final Four], but I was hoping that. I'm a competitive person and I came here thinking that we could make this program successful-- be a Top Ten team and play in the NCAA Tournament. Certainly this is a dream come true to be here, and we're really excited about the opportunity.

On being the underdog: W'ere certainly going against one of the best teams [Princeton] in what I consider one of the best conferences [the Ivy League] in the country. You just have to go about it and treat it like another game and maintain your composure, and tell your kids they have to believe. We refer quite a bit to the NCAA basketball tournament when we get into this position. You see upsets happen. We like to think that anything is possible. We know we have to bring our A-game, and anything less than that is not going to get the job done. Just to be at the Final Four is such a great honor. Our kids have a lot to play for. Sometimes it's easier to fight your way to the top than to stay at the top.

On the following that Vanderbilt is getting in Nashville: It's been great. High school lacrosse started my second year here… four or five years it's been going now. High school teams are really supportive, and they come to all of our games. We have really great fan support. It's come a long way, and we're excited about where it's going, both in Nashville and in the South.

On returning to New Jersey, where Coach Swezey played in college: I'm excited for my girls. I'm excited that they're going to get this opportunity. I'm fortunate enough to have been able to play in games like this, having gone to Final Fours and gone on to win titles. Those were some of the best days of my life. I want to give these girls the opportunity to experience that.

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