Princeton didn't take long sealing a spot in the NCAA Division I women's lacrosse national championship game.
The Tigers rolled up an 8-0 lead on North Carolina and cruised to a surprisingly easy 16-2 victory in the national semifinals last night at Loyola College's Curley Field. The margin of victory was the second largest in a semifinal.
"Never in our wildest dreams would we have envisioned this kind of game," said Tigers coach Chris Sailer. "Our kids have been so focused, so tough, so intense all season long, they just showed such fight and spirit on the field today. We didn't expect it at all, but did the effort of my kids surprise me? Not at all."
Not even an hourlong lightning delay stalled the Tigers' attack. Charlotte Kenworthy scored just 17 seconds after the game resumed, boosting the Tigers' lead to 15-2 with 13:30 left.
"We didn't change their game plan at all," said North Carolina coach Jenny Slingluff Levy. "We allowed them to do what they wanted on the offensive end."
For the Tar Heels (17-3), who did not get the ball on attack during the first 13 minutes, the loss was the most lopsided in the seven-year history of their program. They also scored the fewest goals ever in a semifinal.
In a rematch of their season opener, the Tigers (18-1) will face top-seeded Georgetown for the championship at 1 p.m. tomorrow at Curley Field. The Hoyas defeated the Tigers, 15-13, in overtime on March 3 in the only regular-season overtime game for both teams.
Princeton and North Carolina had similar resumes - 17 wins, 36 goals in the previous two playoff games and school-record winning streaks - but the Ivy League champs began pounding away in the first two minutes.
Theresa Sherry scored the first goal. At the 6:32 mark, Elizabeth Pillion made it 8-0. Lindsay Stone finally got the Tar Heels on the board with 2:44 left until halftime.
Princeton outshot the Atlantic Coast Conference champs 18-7 in the half and had a 12-5 edge in ground balls and 6-4 in draw controls. The Tigers outshot them 31-14 overall.
The Tigers, the last team to win a national championship before Maryland took seven straight, ran their lead to 14-2 on Sherry's fifth goal with 14:24 left.
"We intentionally didn't try and slow it down and just hold the ball," Sailer said. "We wanted to keep attacking and we knew we had to have a good defensive effort, because they have so many threats on the offense."
Sherry finished with five goals. Lauren Simone had a final four-record five assists.
North Carolina 1 1 - 2
Princeton 8 8 - 16
Goals: NC-Stone, Young; P-Sherry 5, Miller 4, Kenworthy 3, Biles, Smith, Pillion, Simone. Assists: P-Simone 5, Sherry. Saves: NC-Hoffman 8; Kolodner 6, McInnes 2.