UVa. women pull out stops, roll to title

Pfeiffer makes 19 saves, as Cavs end Princeton's 2-year NCAA reign, 10-4

May 24, 2004|By Katherine Dunn | Katherine Dunn,SUN STAFF

PRINCETON, N.J. - Virginia goalie Andrea Pfeiffer and her unheralded young defense stole the spotlight from previously unbeaten and No. 1 Princeton in yesterday's NCAA Division I women's lacrosse championship - and took the title as well.

Pfeiffer made a career-high 19 saves to stymie the two-time defending champion Tigers and lead the No. 2 Cavaliers to a 10-4 victory before 4,922 at Princeton Stadium. The Tigers (19-1) had been riding a 28-game winning streak, but the Cavaliers (19-3) were not intimidated, taking their first national title since 1993.

The tournament's Most Valuable Player, Pfeiffer broke the record for best save percentage in the Division I final. Her .826 mark came in well ahead of the .808 set by Maryland's Alex Kahoe in beating the Cavaliers in 1998. Only once before had a team been held to four goals in the championship - 20 years ago when Temple beat Maryland, 6-4.

"The ball looked good today," said Pfeiffer, a senior from Paoli, Pa. "We were really well-prepared coming in. We knew a lot of the top shooters, their tendencies. If I saved it, the defense would pick it up if it was a ground ball. It just all came together."

The strong defense and a four-goal outing for Amy Appelt helped the Cavaliers run up a 5-1 lead and avenge last year's 8-7 overtime loss to the Tigers.

Princeton got the better of play early but managed to put just one of its first 19 shots past Pfeiffer. She stopped 10 of those attempts.

The Tigers shot right at Pfeiffer several times and missed the cage eight times, thanks in part to the efforts of defenders Elizabeth Pinney, Ashley Dodson, Molly Urlock and Nikki Lieb.

"We were getting such great looks early on. We were just shooting wide or hitting the keeper," said Princeton coach Chris Sailer, "but you have to give Virginia some credit for that. When you shoot that poorly, you've got to think that the defense and the goalie are part of the reason. We can't say it's just us."

The Tigers, who had scored on 70 percent of their shots on goal coming into the game, continued to struggle offensively. They took 35 shots, and 12 of them missed the net altogether. The Cavaliers held Princeton All-America midfielder Theresa Sherry scoreless for the first time all season.

Princeton came into the game with the nation's top defense, allowing just 6.11 goals a game, but when Virginia struck, the momentum built quickly.

Tyler Leachman scored on a free-position shot with 11:10 left in the first half to tie the game 1-1. Appelt then spun off defender Lauren Vance at about 10 meters and side-armed a shot past Tigers goalie Sarah Kolodner. Another goal by Leachman gave Virginia three goals in less than a minute and a half.

Caitlin Banks and Appelt finished the half with two more goals, leaving the Tigers trailing 5-1 at the half, their largest deficit of the season.

Princeton, which went 26:45 without a goal, finally got one from Kathleen Miller early in the second half. Although the Tigers outscored the opposition 23-8 in the second half during the tournament's first three rounds, the Cavaliers had not lost a game they led at halftime all season. Yesterday, in the second half, Virginia matched every Tigers goal and then some.

Appelt, who yesterday became only the third player in Division I history to reach 90 goals in a season, set up several opportunities for her teammates, including a couple for Banks, who finished with three goals.

"I knew they were going to throw [double teams] pretty quickly, and that's fine because everyone I throw the ball to is going to catch it and score anyway, like Caitlin did. I think it's easier for me to feed the ball in to one of my attackers than try to have me beat three or four girls," said Appelt, who made the all-tournament team along with Pinney, Banks, Lieb and Princeton's Vance, Elizabeth Pillion (two goals) and Katie Norbury.

Virginia 5 5 - 10

Princeton 1 3 - 4

Goals: V- Appelt 4, Banks 3, Leachman 2, Lieb; P-Pillion 2, Miller, Biles. Assists: V-Connors 2, Leachman, Banks, Appelt; P-Sundheim, Pillion. Saves: V-Pfeiffer 19; P-Kolodner 8.

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