UCLA takes down Princeton in quarterfinals to advance in tournament
BOSTON -- Third-seeded UCLA defeated No. 6-seed Princeton 8-6 on Friday to advance to Saturday's semifinals against No. 2-seed Stanford. The Bruins received three goals from sophomore Emily Donohoe and two from freshman Rachel Fattal.
UCLA improved to 27-6 overall, while Princeton fell to 26-6. The Bruins improved to 6-0 all-time against Princeton and this was UCLA's first meeting with the Tigers in postseason play. UCLA also improved to 50-7 all-time in postseason play.
"I'm happy that we did what we needed to do," UCLA head coach Brandon Brooks said. "Defensively, we controlled the whole game. Once we got the lead, the outcome was never in jeopardy. We are moving on to the semifinals, which is where we want to be. We still have a chance to play for a championship."
Fattal got the Bruins on the board first, scoring on a penalty shot at the 1:56 mark of the first period. Then on the next possession, freshman India Forster made it 2-0 with a score on a counter attack off a feed from junior Kelly Ronimus. Jessie Holechek ended the first quarter with a score for Princeton with 59 seconds left on a nearside shot.
The second period opened like the first, with both teams playing solid defense and not allowing any goals for the first six minutes of the quarter. Fattal opened the flood gates, scoring her second goal of the game on a skip shot at the top right corner to give UCLA a 3-1 lead with two minutes left in the second period. Senior Gisselle Naranjo made it 4-1 at the 1:11 mark on a cross-cage lob shot. Then Donohoe scored her first of the game on a penalty shot with 46 seconds left to make it 5-1. After Holechek scored her second of the game, Donohoe countered with her second to regain the momentum and give the Bruins a 6-2 lead heading into halftime.
Both teams played solid defense in the third period, which led to a scoreless period.
"When we were put in the situation of playing a lot of five-man, we made a lot of stops when we needed to make stops and I thought that was fantastic," Brooks said. "We pride ourselves on defense and this team has a lot of fight in them and plays with a lot of courage. It is a confidence booster and inspiring as a coach to know that when we have to play defense, we are fine stepping up to the challenge."
With the Bruins sitting comfortably with a five-goal lead, the Tigers pressed and won the fourth period 4-2. Donohoe got things started in the fourth period, completing her hat trick with 7:33 to go, giving the Bruins a 7-2 advantage. Katie Rigler scored back-to-back goals for Princeton to narrow the gap to 7-4. Putting an end to Princeton's rally was another Bruin freshman, Alys Williams. She buried a low shot from five meters in the left corner to put UCLA up 8-4 with 3:04 to go. Brittany Zwirner and Rigler ended the scoring with goals for Princeton to provide the final margin of 8-6.
"We could have finished stronger and we made a couple of tactical mistakes," Brooks added. "In the end, we get a another chance at Stanford."
Sophomore Sami Hill played the entire game in goal for UCLA and recorded nine saves. Freshman Ashleigh Johnson also played the entire game in goal for Princeton and was credited with seven saves.
UCLA was 0-for-2 on power plays, but converted both of its penalty shots. Princeton went 2-for-8 on its 6-on-5 opportunities.
"We worked a lot this week on defense," Hill said. "In order for me to make the blocks, our defense has to be in the right position and we were in the first half."
The Bruins will face No. 2 Stanford in the second semifinal Saturday at Harvard's Blodgett Pool.
"[Saturday], we are going to have to go out with a lot of energy and a lot of strength," Donohoe said. "It is our fourth time seeing Stanford this year, so we have to learn from the past games and play well as individuals and as a team."