Princeton checks gut, Duke checks out Halftime pep talk spurs Tigers over Blue Devils in NCAA quarterfinal, 11-9


HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. -- Princeton coach Bill Tierney has a way of putting games in perspective. And when the Tigers seemed lethargic in the first half, he voiced that perspective a little louder.

Two-time defending Princeton responded immediately in the second half with a stifling defense and strong moves to the goal to beat No. 7 Duke, 11-9, in an NCAA quarterfinal game at Hofstra Stadium yesterday.

The Tigers (12-1) erased a two-goal deficit by scoring the first five goals after halftime and held the Blue Devils (11-4) to one goal in the final 38 minutes to move into a national semifinal contest against Syracuse on Saturday.

"At halftime, it was about checking your gut," Tierney said. "I went after some guys and said: 'Look, do you want to go home? Do you want this to end this way? Words don't mean a heck of a lot. It's the action that the words stir up.' "

Princeton roared out of the locker room, tying the game at 8 just 1: 21 into the second half on two unassisted goals by Jon Hess. Known primarily as a feeder, Hess used his speed to sprint past defenders and convert from the perimeter.

"I guess at halftime, I realized we weren't running hard enough," said Hess, who had only 10 goals in 12 regular-season games. "I just started running and things opened up. I started taking shots I hadn't been shooting this year."

Princeton went ahead for good at 9-8 when its leading scorer, Jesse Hubbard, skipped in his only goal of the game with 6: 01 left in the third quarter.

Josh Sims, a Severn graduate, then added two unassisted goals in the first 3: 18 of the fourth quarter to push the Tigers' advantage to 11-8. He finished with four goals, continually driving past defensive midfielder Tim Knowles.

Sims' athleticism exposed the philosophy of Duke, which prides itself on tough, non-sliding, man-to-man defense.

"With our attack, they always attract so much attention that I get good opportunities," Sims said.

The Tigers and Blue Devils battled back and forth early with the score tied at 1, 2, 3 and 4. But Duke used a five-goal run to go ahead 8-4 midway through the second quarter on a shot by T. J. Durnan that caromed off the legs of goalkeeper Corey Popham.

Princeton then pulled Popham, who made only two saves, and inserted freshman Trevor Tierney, the coach's son. He finished the game with six saves, giving up just one goal.

Trevor Tierney benefited from a more aggressive defense. After a lackadaisical first half, the Tigers' close defense of Christian Cook, John Harrington and Kurt Lunkenheimer clamped down on Duke's attack with more off-ball pressure and by making earlier slides.

"Everyone just seemed to pick up their game and did their jobs," said Trevor Tierney, who played 84 minutes in the regular season. "It didn't matter who was in goal."

Yet Bill Tierney made it clear that he didn't order the substitution, and that the decision on Saturday's starter will come this week. Assistant David Metzbower, who works with the goalkeepers and coordinates the offense, suggested the switch.

"I'd be lying if I said it wasn't in my gut worrying about Trevor," Bill Tierney said. "But I can honestly say that he earned it."

After Duke went ahead 8-4, the Blue Devils didn't touch the ball as Princeton scored twice in a 1 1/2 -minute span to cut the lead to 8-6.

In the second half, the Blue Devils shifted from moving the ball to trying to break down the Tigers' new-look defense individually. The result: an 0-for-13 skid on shots over 32 minutes.

"We tried to make too much happen too quick," Duke coach Mike Pressler said. "I'm not saying we played smart for four quarters, but we definitely competed. It was a tale of two halves and Princeton showed why it is the two-time defending national champion."

Princeton 4 2 3 2 -- 11

Duke .....4 4 0 1 -- 9

Pub Date: 5/17/98

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