BOSTON - Leading 10-7 with five minutes to go, No. 12 UC San Diego surrendered the final five goals and fell, 12-10 in overtime, to No. 10 Princeton in Sunday’s fifth-place game at the NCAA Championship hosted by Harvard University at Blodgett Pool.
UCSD closed out the season with a 26-15 overall record.
“In the emotion of the moment, it’s tough to temper an overtime loss to the No. 10 team in the country with all of the great things we did this season,” said head coach Brad Kreutzkamp. “It stings when you’re up three at that point in the game and can’t hold on defensively. Give all credit to Princeton. They never gave up.”
The Tigers took a 1-0 lead 1:15 into the contest when Brittney Zwirmer put a rebound in off the post as UCSD was coming out of a man-down situation. But the Tritons scored the next three, the last of those coming when junior Sarah Lizotte shook free for a wide open one-on-one and took the measure of goalie Ashleigh Johnson, and they didn’t trail again until the first overtime session.
“Our man-down defense (stopping Princeton 6-of-7 times in the game) got us the lead,” said Kreutzkamp. “They have such a good goalie. She had given up only 10 goals in the first two games of the tournament (one vs. No. 3 UCLA) and if you would have told me we would score 10 today, I would have liked our chances.”
Princeton did rally to tie things at seven-all in the third quarter but the Tritons went right back on top. With the Tigers two players down, sophomore Jolene Guiliana took a nifty pass from Lizotte and rifled it home from close range. Guiliana made it two-in-a-row to open the fourth quarter, taking a long pass from goalie Courtney Miller, eluding her defender at half tank, driving to the left side of the cage and squeezing a shot past Johnson. With just 5:39 to go in the fourth, Guiliana fed junior Melissa Bartow, wide open at point-blank distance, to make it 10-7 and it looked like UCSD had fifth place honors in its grasp.
But things caved in from there. A 6-on-5 tally with 5:09 on the clock and then two more at even strength, 43 seconds apart, and the Tigers had drawn even at 10 with 2:43 to go. That’s how regulation ended. Princeton maintained its momentum, registering a goal in each of the two overtime periods while a clearly tired Triton side was unable to muster much offensively. Kreutzkamp felt his team’s play down the stretch had its seeds sown in the first half.
“We got in foul trouble early with Guiliana, Alexis (Wieseler) and Rachel (Brooks) all picking up two in the first half,” said Kreutzkamp. “That messed up some of our rotations and caused us to play some people a lot more minutes than I would have liked. That showed up in the end.”
Lizotte scored three goals, giving her nine over her three games in Boston to duplicate her haul from her previous NCAA appearance in 2011. She landed on the All-Tournament Second Team. Wieseler and Guiliana contributed two scores apiece. Bartow, junior Allison Delgado and freshman Julia Kirkland finished with one each to round out the UCSD scoring sheet. Miller had 13 stops in goal. Princeton closed out 2013 with a 28-6 ledger.
“In the big picture, this was a great season with a lot of firsts and this team has a terrific future,” summed up Kreutzkamp, whose roster does not include a single senior. “We emphasized all weekend that this was all about the experience and three years from now, when hopefully we’ve been to four of these in a row, this will be a distant memory.”
-- UCSDtritons.com --