The No. 2 Cavaliers set up tomorrow's rematch with a hard-fought, 12-9 victory over Georgetown last night at Princeton Stadium. Virginia took the early lead, but it didn't hold up, and the Cavaliers had to break out of an 8-8 tie with 9:54 remaining for the victory.
The tie lasted all of 38 seconds, though. Amy Appelt, the nation's second-leading scorer, drove down the middle and whipped in a sidearm shot to snap the deadlock.
After Tyler Leachman raced to goal off one of the Cavaliers' 15 draw controls and boosted the Virginia lead to 10-8, Appelt drove again. She stumbled in the arc but, falling, slipped a low shot past Georgetown goalie Sarah Robinson to give the Cavaliers an 11-8 edge with six minutes left.
That three-goal run snapped the Hoyas' momentum and sealed the Cavaliers' victory in a battle of teams that had never lost in the national semifinals.
Appelt said she knew the time had come to make her move.
"I knew it was at a key time," said Appelt. "Being one of the older girls on the attack, I needed to step up and show our team that we should be confident and that we made it here because we were good. I knew if I just took that ball in, everyone was just going to feed off my energy, and that's what we did."
The Cavaliers junior, who has scored in every game of her career, finished with four goals and two assists, boosting her season stats to 86 goals and 30 assists.
Virginia (18-3) won the last of its two national crowns in 1993, the year before Maryland and Princeton put a 10-year hold on the title. The Tigers, who hold an 11-9 edge in the series, won the regular-season meeting 12-9 on March 14.
Coming into last night's game, the Cavaliers, who set a school record for most wins in a season, were careful not to overlook Georgetown.
With 3,215 watching, the Cavaliers showed off an attack that leads the nation with 13.89 goals a game.
Caitlin Banks and Leachman gave Virginia a 2-0 lead in a little over five minutes. Although the Hoyas (13-5) caught up on goals by Coco Stanwick and Lauryn Bernier, the Cavaliers answered with three straight goals and never again trailed.
That run started a 6-2 Cavaliers spurt as they extended their lead to 8-4 with 18:12 left on Appelt's first goal of the game.
The Hoyas rallied with back-to-back goals from Stanwick, who then fed Anouk Peters. Allison Chambers tied the score at 8-8 on a free-position goal with 9:54 left.
The Cavaliers also got strong efforts from Leachman, Molly Urlock and Nikki Lieb in dominating the draws. Goalie Andrea Pfeiffer had 10 saves.
"The effort today showed that we can really stick together as a team and overcome some pretty big mistakes," said Virginia coach Julie Myers, whose team had 18 turnovers.
Georgetown 4 5 - 9 Virginia 6 6 - 12
Goals: G-Stanwick 3, Bernier 2, Chambers, 2 Poole, Peters; V-Appelt 4, Leachman 3, Banks 2, Thalenberg 2, Young. Assists: G-Stanwick, Bernier, Ellers; V-Appelt 2, Banks.Saves: G-Robinson 6; V-Pfeiffer 10.