PRINCETON, N.J. -- This was a vintage Princeton performance.
The Tigers got a big first-quarter lead and then attackman Kevin Lowe ran their deliberate offense to perfection. Led by defenseman David Morrow, they smothered the other team's offense. They had few turnovers and the game had little suspense.
It's called Princeton style, and it translated into another win as the No. 2 Tigers defeated No. 10 Loyola, 12-6, yesterday before 3,823 at Palmer Stadium.
The win advanced Princeton (13-1) into next week's Final Four at Maryland where the Tigers will play No. 3 Syracuse (10-2) on Saturday (4 p.m.) in a rematch of last year's championship game, won by Princeton, 10-9, in double overtime.
"Syracuse has been saying since last May that they were hoping this game would come about," said Princeton coach Bill Tierney. "So, here we are."
Syracuse beat Hofstra, 20-8, yesterday to advance to the semifinals.
"Bill has been here for a couple of years now, and I think you have to look at the system he uses," said Loyola coach Dave Cottle. "The names change but he keeps getting the same results."
Only this time, Princeton's defense might be a little better than a season ago. The Tigers were superb yesterday, shutting out Loyola (8-5) in the first two quarters for a 7-0 halftime lead.
Morrow, who was matched against Loyola attackman Kevin Beach, neutralized Beach by holding the 6-foot-5, 220-pound senior to two goals. Both of the goals were scored when Loyola held an extra-man advantage.
Morrow, 6-0 and 180 pounds, shadowed Beach all over the field, denying him the ball with great positioning. Beach didn't take a shot until he scored his first goal 37 seconds into the third period. He took only five shots during the game.
"He [Morrow] did a good job," said Beach, who finished with 45 goals for the season. "I thought some of the close calls were holds, but I guess they're not if no one calls them."
Morrow, co-winner of the United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association Defenseman of the Year award last season, said: "It was a match I was looking forward to all week. I have never played against another attackman with such size. My defense may not have been the prettiest, but it got the job done and things worked out for us."
Morrow also had a better supporting cast. Fellow defensemen Josh Miller, Nick Lane and Todd Higgins were even more effective against Loyola attackmen Sean Heffernan and Paul Cantabene.
Cantabene and Heffernan, Beach's prime feeder, each had only one assist as Princeton's sliding defense applied relentless pressure.
And Tigers goalkeeper Scott Bacigalupo was outstanding, too, with 12 saves.
"Princeton did a good job of taking us out of what we wanted to do," said Cottle. "We wanted to take advantage of their slides, but we didn't shoot very well."
The first half was basically all the Tigers needed. While the defense was playing well, Lowe was hot. He finished with three goals, three assists and three different Loyola defenders trying to stop him. The Greyhounds were forced to play Lowe without sophomore defenseman Jason Foley, out with strep throat.
Lowe started dominating early. He beat Loyola's Brendan Fry for a goal with 9:40 left in the first quarter to put Princeton ahead, 2-0.
Then when Fry slipped 20 seconds later, Lowe passed to fellow attackman Taylor Simmers for a goal.
That's when Cottle put senior defenseman Barker Harrison on Lowe.
No luck there, either.
Lowe assisted on two more goals, and Princeton led 5-0 at the end of the first period.
Lowe assisted on Don McDonough's 15-foot goal with 9:17 left, and then blew by Harrison for the final goal of the half with 1:14 left.
"I'm not just a feeder," said Lowe, who had 16 goals and 43 assists before yesterday's game. "Loyola almost pushed me to take shots, to go to the goal. So I went. It's no big deal."
Loyola 0 0 3 3 -- 6
Princeton 5 2 2 3 -- 12