PRINCETON, N.J. - In a women's lacrosse rivalry defined over the years by great defense, Loyola and Princeton went a different direction yesterday, staging a first-half goal-fest as they combined to score 14 times on the first 19 shots.
The team that could clamp down on defense first seemed destined to win, and that turned out to be the No. 2 Tigers, who held No. 11 Loyola scoreless for more than 18 minutes of the second half. That stand and a simultaneous six-goal run sparked the Tigers to a 15-11 victory at Class of 1952 Stadium.
The Tigers (2-0) are now looking to take over the No. 1 spot after No. 12 Penn State upset top-ranked and defending national champion Virginia on Friday.
Defense and a better possession game in the second half made all the difference for the Tigers, who went into last year's national championship game unbeaten before falling to Virginia.
"It's a matter of controlling the ball a little bit better and finishing our opportunities," said Loyola coach Kerri O'Day, whose team had 16 turnovers and was outshot by the Tigers, 29-19. "We're winning some moments, chasing out a ground ball, but then we turn it back over, so we're not able to complete the possession ... convert it into a goal."
Through the first half, the Greyhounds (2-3) got a lot of good looks at the cage as the Tigers' defenders were a step or two late on their slides. The Greyhounds scored four times in three minutes, capped by Kate McHarg's goal with 24:22 left to give Loyola a 4-1 lead.
With both defenses looking like the rebuilding units they are, attackers wove through at both ends all during the first half, which ended 8-8. Loyola didn't have a single assisted goal the entire game as attackers found plenty of openings to go one-on-one with Tigers keeper Sarah Kolodner.
Kolodner, who led the nation in goals-against average last season with 5.82 per game, gave up eight goals on 11 shots through the first 36 minutes and gave way to Colleen O'Boyle. The Mount de Sales graduate stepped in to make a couple of terrific saves and allow just three goals.
"Defensively, we just weren't reading the situations well," said Princeton coach Chris Sailer. "We weren't looking to double-team early, so they were getting a lot of good looks at goal. Kolodner was sitting back a little bit too much. ... She makes a few of those saves and it's a different story."
In the second half, the pace slowed after McHarg scored the second of her three goals in the first four minutes to give the Greyounds a 9-8 lead. The Greyhounds would not score again until the 8:17 mark. By then, the Tigers led 14-9.
"We just regrouped [at halftime]," said Lindsey Biles, a Severn graduate who led the Tigers with a career-high six goals. "We needed to be more physical and more aggressive; we need to slide better. Once we got a little momentum, we picked it up everywhere."
The Greyhounds rallied on back-to-back goals from McHarg and Kate Filipelli, and second-half goalie Cindy Nicolaus made three of her four saves during the late stretch, but Loyola could get no closer than 14-11 with 6:33 to go.
Loyola 8 3 - 11
Princeton 8 7 - 15
Goals: L-Greene 4, McHarg 3, Kenny 2, Shuck, Filipelli; P-Biles 6, Goldberg 3, Pillion 2, Bird 2, Minshall, Slonaker. Assists: P-Pillion 3, Rackovan, Lewis-Lamonica, Minshall. Saves: L-Lawton 4, Ci.Nicolaus 4; P-Kolodner 2, O'Boyle 2.