2 late goals by Princeton send Terps out of NCAAs Tortolani puts Tigers into semifinals


PRINCETON, N.J. -- Justin Tortolani couldn't have picked a more opportune moment to become Princeton's all-time leader in goals.

The senior attackman scored Princeton's final two goals as the third-seeded Tigers edged No. 6 Maryland, 11-10, yesterday in a drizzle before 2,213 at Palmer Stadium to reach the NCAA lacrosse Final Four in Philadelphia.

Princeton (11-2) will meet No. 2 North Carolina in one semifinal next Saturday at Penn's Franklin Field. Carolina advanced by defeating Brown, 16-10.

Tortolani, who had a game-high four goals, raised his career total to 116 and surpassed Joe "Wick" Sollers as Princeton's leader. Sollers scored 114 from 1975-77.

Tortolani's last goal, which put the Tigers ahead, 11-9, with 4:08 remaining, ended a five-goal run by Princeton that began late in the third quarter.

Maryland had stormed back from a 6-3 deficit early in the third quarter to a 9-6 lead with a six-goal run of its own. The Terps scored six times in 9:09, then were shut out for the next 17 minutes until Erik Elfstrum scored the game's final goal with 1:06 left.

"It was a great tear, those six straight, something like we did against Duke in the first round last week and against North Carolina in the Atlantic Coast Conference final," Maryland coach Dick Edell said. "Conversely, we then made mistakes and Princeton took advantage."

Said defenseman Brian Burlace, "All year, it seemed like we'd have one or two spurts a game and then pull away. I thought we would do it again when we were down 5-3 at the half and went on the run."

Princeton halted Maryland's momentum when Paul Murphy scored with 2:31 left in the third quarter. That ended the Terps' string at six and triggered the Tigers' five-goal flurry.

"Murphy's goal was the key," Bill Tierney said. "Giving up six straight goals, why, a lot of teams would have folded right there. But there was no denying these kids. You don't see kids with more heart. Their heart showed up in the fourth quarter."

Maryland, making its 17th NCAA tournament appearance (to Princeton's third), finished with a 9-5 record. With season-long scoring leaders Chris Dail and Rob Chomo contained, Matt Parks and Elfstrum stepped forward with three goals apiece.

"This team played exceptionally hard for 60 minutes," Edell said. "After Elfstrum's final goal with a minute left made it 11-10, we were confident we could tie it, and then find a way to win. We just ran out of time.

"This team is a bunch of street fighters. These kids played hard as hell. That's the legacy this team will leave."

Princeton will go to the Final Four with an eight-game winning streak, its longest since 1951 when it won nine straight and shared the national title with Army. In the Tigers' fifth season under Tierney, they are in the NCAA tournament for the third straight time and in the semifinals for the first time.

"When I was coaching high school on Long Island, I thought making the state final four was so big," said Tierney, a former Johns Hopkins assistant. "Now, this, it's so great for the kids. Making it solidifies what we've established."

Tortolani went into the game knowing he needed three goals to pass Sollers.

"I tried to put it out of my mind, and I was pretty much able to," said Tortolani, of Manhasset, N.Y. "I just wanted to win."

Goalie Scott Bacigalupo, a sophomore out of St. Paul's, made 11 saves, giving him 143 in 13 games.

"Making the Final Four is big," Bacigalupo said. "It's like college basketball's Final Four. Now, any team can win."

Princeton has every reason to be that confident. Of the Tigers' two losses this season, both were by one goal, to Johns Hopkins and North Carolina.

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