NCAA BOUND! Hoosiers Claim CWPA Championship
April 27, 2014
LEWISBERG, Pa. - The Indiana water polo team defeated Princeton, 11-10, in the CWPA Championship game on Sunday to earn a berth in the NCAA Championship in Los Angeles. It's the third NCAA appearance in school history.
The third goal of the game by Shae Fournier bobbed behind Princeton University goalie Ashleigh Johnson and barely crossed the plane of the goal line with 1:23 left in the fourth quarter for the deciding factor as No. 12-ranked and top seed Indiana University overcame an early 4-0 deficit to down 2012 & 2013 Collegiate Water Polo Association (CWPA) Champion at Bucknell University's Kinney Natatorium.
The 2014 Western Division Player of the Year and the Player of the Game, Fournier took command of the game in the fourth quarter to turn a 10-9 Tigers' lead with 4:26 left in the final quarter into a one-goal Hoosiers' win by beating Johnson on back-to-back shots at 3:42 and 1:23 with both teams at even strength.
For Indiana, the game appeared destined to be a rout in Princeton's favor as the Tigers jumped out to a 4-0 lead over the first 7:09 of play by outshooting the Hoosiers seven-to-three.
Diana Murphy broke the ice for Princeton as she beat Indiana goalie Jessica Gaudreault 17 seconds into the first quarter after a sprint victory. Taylor Dunstan pushed the lead to 2-0 at 5:05 before Jessie Holechek struck for her team's third goal on four shots as the Tigers continued to terrorize the Indiana defense, eventually taking a 4-0 lead.
However, Indiana climbed back into the game on the back of Meghan Lappan as she finished a crossing pass from Allison Campbell 15 seconds following Princeton's apparent gravedigger to move the Hoosiers within 4-1 at the 36 seconds mark.
Lappan struck again with 6:37 left in the second quarter as she dropped off a dime to Rebecca Gerrity for a quick shot to trim the lead down to 4-2. Molly McBee extinquished the Hoosiers' hurry-up offensive spurt by finishing a pass from Hatcher to make it 5-2, but Shelby Taylor rifled a shot past Johnson at 5:55 to once again move Indiana within a pair of markers at 5-3.
The teams traded scoring blows over the remaining five-plus minutes of the first half as Rigler roped a power-play blast around the arms of Gaudreault at 4:38 to expand the Tigers' lead to 6-3 before Fournier got on the board for the first time by skipping a successful five-meter penalty shot with 2:29 left to make it 6-4 in favor of Princeton at intermission.
Indiana continued to chip away and annoy the Princeton defense to start the second half as Ellie Stott stuck a try under the left arm of Johnson with 6:43 showing on the clock to inch Indiana within striking distance at 6-5.
McBee countered Stott's score by stuffing a man-up goal over the shoulder of Gaudreault 33 seconds later to return Princeton's lead to a pair at 7-5.
However, the duo of Stott and Lappan proved deadly to Princeton's hopes of joining Slippery Rock University (1988-to-1996) and the University of Michigan (2008-to-2010) as the only squads in CWPA Women's Water Polo history to three-peat as the Hoosiers were heroes with back-to-back goals at 5:00 and 4:20 to drew Indiana even at seven-all.
Princeton regained the lead (8-7) when Holechek found the back of the cage at the 2:11 mark of the quarter on a man-up chance, but Amanda Redfern erased the lead with a rising shot for a natural goal with 49 ticks on the clock to make it eight-all entering the fourth quarter.
Following 24 minutes of trailing and playing catch-up against Princeton, Indiana went in front for the first time with 7:35 left in regulation as Summer Creighton tossed in her lone score of the title tilt.
Neither team was able to inflict any more damage upon the other until McBee appeared to turn the tide in the game by uncorking a power-play score at the 5:19 mark to bring balance to the the teams and a nine-all tie.
The Tigers appeared poised to deal Indiana a deathblow as Hatcher converted on a man-up opportunity to put Princeton back in front at 10-9, but Fournier proved herself too much to stop in the final 3:42 of play.
Trailing by one with the clock winding down and both teams' anxiety rising quickly, Fournier turned the pressure of the moment into markers by netting the equalizer at 3:42.
Tied at 10-all, the championship turned not on a hard shot or a penalty call, but on the waves of the Kinney Natatorium water as Fournier launched a shot that hit the crossbar above Johnson's head and bounced straight down. The ball died in the water behind Johnson, who reached back and moved the water slightly to permit the yellow-sphere to bob back and forth before crossing the lip of the goal plain for an 11-10 Hoosiers' lead.
Following possessions for both teams, Princeton had one final chance to score and force overtime, but Gaudreault and the Indiana defense stiffened to hold the Tigers in check over the final 15 seconds of their final possession to claim the Hoosiers' first CWPA crown and National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) tournament berth since 2011.
Goalkeepers Johnson and Gaudreault finished with nine and seven saves as the Tiger sophomore suffered her first loss in six CWPA Championship games over the past two years to fall to 5-1 all-time in the league postseason.
Now a three-time CWPA Champion, Indiana's last title came at home in Bloomington as the team knocked off the University of Michigan 5-3. The game marked Indiana's fifth CWPA Championship title appearance as the team fell 7-5 to Michigan at the University of Maryland in 2010 after dropping an 8-7 game to Michigan at home in Bloomington during the 2005 title tilt.
Overall, the game marked the first meeting between Tigers and Hoosiers since a 4-2 Indiana win on Februay 17, 2013 at the Bucknell Invitational. In the history of the series, Indiana now holds an 11-8 all-time lead, including 7-5 and 4-0 advantages in neutral site and CWPA Championship games.
1st 2nd 3rd 4th Final Indiana: 1 3 4 3 11 Princeton: 4 2 2 2 10
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