Cinderella Vandy falls to No.1 Princeton, 11-3

PRINCETON, N.J.-- Top-ranked Princeton scored six unanswered goals to open the second half and turn a 2-1 halftime score into its 28th consecutive victory and an 11-3 victory over Vanderbilt in the NCAA national semifinal. "I am proud of this team," said Vanderbilt coach Cathy Swezey. "We had an amazing run and what we did in the tournament to get here was pretty incredible."

PRINCETON, N.J.-- Top-ranked Princeton scored six unanswered goals to open the second half and turn a 2-1 halftime score into its 28th consecutive victory and an 11-3 victory over Vanderbilt. The loss ends the most successful season in program history with a 12-6 record and the American Lacrosse Conference championship.

With Princeton ahead just 2-1 at halftime in the lowest scoring first half in national semifinal history, Kathleen Miller's goal just 10 seconds into the second half started a six-goal Princeton run that put the game away in an 11-3 victory over the upstart Commodores before 3,215 at Princeton Stadium.

Vanderbilt's Christina Serle holds her head as Princeton players celebrate in the background after defeating Vanderbilt 11-3 in an NCAA Division I lacrosse tournament semifinal Friday at Palmer Stadium. (AP Photo/Rich Schultz)
Miller won the draw control on the opening draw and raced down the field to score to give the Tigers a 3-1 lead, and goals in a 1:09 span after that from Tara Hardiman and Caitlin Reimers then gave Princeton (19-0) a 5-1 lead. Two goals after that from Theresa Sherry in a 2:42 span would give the Tigers a 7-1 lead, and Lindsey Biles' goal with 10:58 left made it 8-1 before the Commodores (12-6) scored again.

"I think it just happened," said Miller, who had two goals and an assist. "The ball was right there and I just was running my hardest down the field. I actually thought that I would be taking it around the cage, but the goalie took one step out and there was a little room so I went for it."

The six-goal Princeton run ended the hopes of the upstart Commodores, making their first national semifinal appearance in the nine-year history of the program. Vanderbilt had upset No. 4 seed Loyola and James Madison, both on the road, to reach the national semifinal in just their second NCAA tournament.

"I am proud of this team," said Vanderbilt coach Cathy Swezey. "We had an amazing run and what we did in the tournament to get here was pretty incredible. We're really proud of our players. They can hold their heads very high."

The Commodores did a terrific job of slowing the game down early against the undefeated and No. 1 Tigers, who have now won 28 games dating back to last year. Sherry scored on a free-position shot early on to give Princeton a 1-0 lead, and Elizabeth Pillion then scored on an unassisted goal with 10 minutes left in the half, but Vandy's Kate Hickman scored her 40th goal of the year after that and the Commodores trailed just 2-1 at halftime.

The half was the lowest-scoring first half in the 23-year history of the NCAA Division I or National Collegiate semifinals or finals.

"One thing we said is that if we were going to win the game, it had to be in our plan on attack," said Sailer. "We felt we we're playing well. You could just see in the second half that we were seeing each other so much better and looking for each other, and that made all the difference for us."

Hickman had two of Vanderbilt's three goals. Michelle Allen had two assists for the Commodores.

Pillion added two goals and Biles a goal and an assist for the Tigers, who have won 11 straight NCAA tournament games. Princeton outshot Vanderbilt 29-12, including 22-5 in the decisive second half, and caused 14 turnovers.

Princeton will meet the winner of the Virginia/Georgetown game in the championship game Sunday at 2 p.m. The Tigers defeated the Cavaliers in the 2003 championship game in overtime, 8-7, and defeated the Hoyas 12-7 in the 2002 championship game.


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