Box Score (PDF)
PHILADELPHIA - A wild, back-and-forth affair between two storied rivals resulted in an overtime classic in the semifinals of the 2011 Ivy League Women's Lacrosse Tournament at Franklin Field, but in the end it was No. 4 seed Princeton that pulled out the win over top-seeded Penn, 10-8.
The game saw five lead changes and was tied seven times before the Tigers scored twice - both goals from Jaci Gassaway - in the opening three minutes of overtime to secure the win and their first berth in the Ivy League Tournament final. Princeton will take on Harvard in the final on Sunday at 1 p.m. as the Crimson defeated regular season co-champion Dartmouth, 11-10.
Penn trailed late in the game, 8-6, but Caroline Bunting and Meredith Cain scored to tie the game up and force the overtime. Bunting finished off a phenomenal give-and-go with Erin Brennan to close the gap before Cain completed her second hat trick in as many games with 2:24 to play - once again off a feed from Brennan as the Quakers looked to steal one in the waning moments.
The potential rally came very close to fruition as Giulia Giordano had two great looks on goal in the final ten seconds, but both were denied by Erin Tochihara as part of her 10-save night.
Overlooking the play of the two goalkeepers who be missing out on perhaps the key storyline in the game. While Tochihara made six saves in the second half to keep Penn at bay, the Quakers would not have been in the game at all without the performance by Emily Leitner. The junior made four total saves in the game - and all of them came on point-blank free position attempts by Princeton. Three of those one-on-one saves came in the first half, allowing the Red and Blue to hang close and mount their comeback. In addition to her free position saves, Leitner recorded seven ground balls, frequently coming out of the crease to pick up turnovers caused by the Penn defense.
The overtime period was all Princeton as the Tigers won the first draw and patiently set up the eventual game-winner from Gassaway with 36 seconds left in the extra period. The ensuing draw control was also won by Princeton and the Tigers forced the issue for a Gassaway one-timer with just six seconds left in the first session. In the final three minutes, Princeton held the ball for all but five seconds and ran out the clock on Penn's hopes for a second-consecutive Ivy League Tournament crown.
Cain's performance in the loss cannot be forgotten as the sophomore had a career-high five points on three goals and two assists. All five Penn goals she factored in on either tied the game or gave Penn the lead as she continues her breakout finish to 2011. Cain's classmate Bunting had three points in the game, with two goals and an assist. Junior Erin Brennan had four points, including three assists. Giulia Giordano was held without a point, but has been the case of late was vital to the midfield with three caused turnovers and two draw controls.
For Princeton, Gassaway finished with four goals and five points while Cassie Pyle had three goals and two assists. Cathy Bachur was a big part of Princeton's defense with seven ground balls and four caused turnovers. Charlotte Davis was right there as well with three caused turnovers and four ground balls.
For the Quakers, the NCAA Selection Show awaits on Sunday night at 7:30 p.m. on NCAA.com. Penn has posted an 11-5 record with wins over North Carolina and Duke and losses at No. 1 Maryland and then-No. 2 Northwestern. The Red and Blue have advanced to four NCAA Tournaments in a row and are confident their body of work in the 2011 campaign will earn them a fifth trip to the national tournament.
Download: Penn Princeton Final.pdf