Virginia shocks No. 1 Princeton Cavaliers' 9-7 victory ends 29-game streak

March 08, 1998|By Jamison Hensley | Jamison Hensley,CONTRIBUTING WRITER

Chris Sanderson made 19 saves and the Virginia defense silenced the premier attack in the nation as the No. 4 Cavaliers shocked top-ranked and two-time defending national champion Princeton, 9-7, yesterday before 1,867 in Charlottesville, Va.

Virginia (2-1) ended the Tigers' 29-game winning streak -- the second longest in Division I lacrosse history. Princeton (1-1) hadn't lost since March 9, 1996, when it dropped a 12-9 decision to Virginia the last time the Tigers played in Charlottesville.

Trailing 9-4 in the fourth quarter, Princeton scored three straight goals to cut the deficit to 9-7 with 2: 41 remaining. The Tigers then had an extra-man opportunity, but Sanderson ended the rally, stopping Prince- ton's last shot with 44 seconds left in the game.

"Chris Sanderson played his best lacrosse game I've seen," Virginia coach Dom Starsia said. "He won the game for us. He made so many big saves for us. I believe great goalies sometimes steal games for you, and he did that for us today."

The close defense of Ryan Curtis, Penn Leachman and Doug Davies limited the highly touted Princeton attack of Jon Hess, Jesse Hubbard and Chris Massey to three goals and three assists.

Curtis, the son of former Baltimore Colt Mike Curtis, wasn't supposed to play after leaving last Saturday's game against Syracuse in the second quarter with a leg injury. But Curtis entered the first quarter at the six-minute mark and never left the game, containing Hess to a goal and two assists.

The Cavaliers, who shut out the Tigers on five extra-man chances, held Princeton to its lowest goal total in a regulation game in three years.

"The first thing [Princeton coach] Bill Tierney said to me after the game was, 'If you told me that those three guys were going to stop my attack, I never thought it would happen,' " Starsia said. "We just played tremendously on the defensive end. We were alert, sharp to the ground balls and played hard all the time."

Tucker Radebaugh had four goals and one assist as the Cavaliers' attack stepped up for an ailing midfield and combined for eight goals and three assists. The midfield was without high-scoring David Wren, who did not play after suffering an asthma attack Friday night, and received limited play from injured Henry Oakey.

Virginia broke open a one-goal game by scoring three goals in a 49-second span of the second quarter for a 5-1 lead. Princeton couldn't reduce that lead to less than three goals until the fourth quarter.

With Virginia trying to stall for the last half of the quarter, the Tigers jumped back into the game as Lorne Smith, Mark Whaling and Massey scored consecutive goals to get within 9-7 before Sanderson's clutch save sealed the win.

It's been a strong turnaround for Virginia, which collapsed late in the fourth quarter of an overtime loss to Syracuse.

"Anytime you beat Princeton is a good win. They're king of the hill," Starsia said. "But teams like Princeton, Syracuse and us are all mature enough to know that wins in March and February aren't as big as wins in April and May. All I know is we felt pretty [bad] last week and feel a whole lot better now. It's a big win for our program."

Pub Date: 3/08/98

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