PROVIDENCE, RI -- Taylor Dunstan (Fr., New Canaan, Conn./New Canaan) and Brittany Zwirner (Jr., Santa Ana, Calif./Foothill) scored to start the fourth quarter and goalie Kristen Ward (Sr., Sacramento, Calif./St. Francis) made 15 saves as No. 13 Princeton University defeated No. 14 University of Maryland 6-5 to claim the 2012 Collegiate Water Polo Association (CWPA) Eastern Championship at Brown University's Katherine Moran Coleman Aquatics Center.
The Southern Division regular season and postseason champions prior to claiming the program's first Eastern Championship in women's water polo since 2000, the Tigers earn the conference's automatic bid to the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Championship at San Diego State University's Aztec Aquaplex on May 11-13.
Tied at four-all at the conclusion of the third period, Princeton took the lead and cushioned the margin in the first two minutes of the final period of play. Dunstan collected a pass and buried it past University of Maryland goalie Shelby Reyes (Sr., Miami, Fla./Gulliver Prep) at 6:41 to Princeton in front to stay (5-4), before Zwirner swept a ball off the water and into the twine at 5:59 for the game-winning tally.
Neither team was able to muster much offense until Zoe Respondek (Fr., Miami, Fla./Miami Country Day School) stuck a shot over the shoulder of Ward at 4:07 to move the Terrapins back to within a goal.
However, the Princeton defense in front of Ward stiffened to hold Maryland to just three shots over the final four minutes of competition as the Tigers, while Reyes turned aside a pair of Princeton scoring attempts to keep her comrades in the game until the closing horn.
Overall, the story of the game was the play of Ward and Reyes as the dueling pair of senior netminders combined for 24 saves with 11 goals allowed in stopping multiple scoring chances and allowing their teams to hang around in a contest that saw neither team build more than a one goal lead throughout the 32 minutes of competition.
The game was also a story of halves as Maryland received the better of play in the first half jumping out to a 1-0 lead with 5:27 remaining in the first quarter via a man-up tally by Allison Campbell (Jr., Maple Ridge, B.C./Maple Ridge Secondary School).
Princeton responded to tie the game four minutes later when Saranna Soroka (Jr., Redondo Beach, Calif./Chadwick School) tossed in the equalizer off an exclusion, but the Terrapins regained control of the game at 1:03 with a tally by Katie Ermakova (So., Columbia, Md./Wilde Lake).
It took the Tigers 2:06 to again balance the scoreboard as Jessie Holecheck (Fr., Laguna Beach, Calif./Laguna Beach) pushed across Princeton's second goal at 6:57 of the second quarter.
The pattern of Maryland jumping out to a lead and the Tigers countering continued as Zoe Respondek (Fr., Miami, Fla./Miami Country Day) and Tournament Most Valuable Player Katie Rigler (So., Fullerton, Calif./Rosary) exhanged markers at 2:48 and 47 seconds, respectively, to knot the game at three-all heading into halftime.
Both teams added to their totals in the third period as Campbell scored on another man-up chance at 7:11 and Rigler responded with an even-strength strike at 2:21 to make it four-all and establish the story for the fourth quarter of play.
Overall, Rigler led the way for the Tigers with a pair of goals, while Respondek and Campbell posted two goals each for the Terrapins.
In cage, Reyes was the equal of
Ward but with fewer chances as she stopped nine shots in suffering
The victory is historic for Princeton as the seven-time Southern Division champion made its fourth title tilt trip after three previous shots as the Tigers fell to Hartwick College (8-6 L in 2007) and Brown (11-10 L OT in 2001) after claiming the 2000 championship (6-4 W vs. University of Massachusetts). This marks Princeton's first trip to the NCAA Championship, however, as the tournament did not begin until the year following the Tigers' last Eastern Championship victory.
Further, the Tigers made league history as head coach Luis Nicolao became the first coach to lead both men's and women's programs to CWPA Eastern titles in the same year since CWPA Hall of Fame inductee Richard Hunkler achieved the feat in 1991-92 with the Slippery Rock University men's and women's squads.
The last institution to claim both crowns in the same academic year was the University of Massachusetts as CWPA Hall of Fame inductee Russ Yarworth guided the men to the 1991 title and Dan McCosker coached the Minutemen to the women's crown in 1992.
For Nicolao, the Princeton men captured the league crown in the fall courtesy a 10-7 victory over the United States Naval Academy at Harvard University as the Tigers swept New England and claimed both championships at fellow Ivy League institutions.
|No. 13 Princeton University||1||2
|No. 14 University of Maryland||2
Maryland Goals: Zoe Repondek (2); Allison
Campbell (2); Katie Ermakova
Princeton Goals: Katie Rigler (2); Taylor
Dunstan; Saranna Soroka; Brittany Zwirner; Jessie Holechek
Saves: Maryland - Shelby Reyes (9) ; Princeton - Kristen Ward (15)
Exclusions: Maryland - 4 ; Princeton - 5
Advantage Opportunities: Maryland - 2-for-5 ; Princeton - 1-for-5
Sprints: Maryland - 3-for-4 (First, Second, Third) ; Princeton - 1-for-4 (Fourth)
Officials: Alex Stankevitch, Hadi Farid
Tournament Most Valuable Player Katie Rigler of Princeton University shoots
University of Maryland's Allison Campbell
Princeton University goalie Kristen Ward
University of Maryland goalie Shelby Reyes
Princeton University's Kristen Ward and Audrey Zak celebrate the Tigers' title
2012 CWPA Eastern Champions - Princeton University
2012 CWPA Eastern Champions - Princeton University
2012 CWPA Eastern Championship Runner-Up - University of Maryland
2012 CWPA Eastern Championship Third Place - University of Michigan
2012 CWPA Eastern
Championship MVP - Katie Rigler (Princeton University)
2012 CWPA Eastern Championship Rookie of the Tournament - Madison Pepper (Brown University)
2012 CWPA Eastern Championship Coach of the Tournament Carl Salyer (University of Maryland) with 2012 CWPA Hall of Fame inductee Kristin Stanford