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Gauchos Advance to National Semifinals With Win Over Michigan

Box Score

Bookmark and Share Printer Friendly May. 7, 2009

Jeni CentnerScottsdale, AZ - UCSB defeated 7th ranked and 8th seeded Michigan 9-8 behind a 9 save performance by freshman goal keeper Jeni Centner (Tustin, CA), a solid defense in front of her and another balanced scoring effort on the part of the offense with seven different players scoring goals to help UCSB get the win. During a 4 goal run in the second half four different Gauchos scored to put UCSB up 9-6. During that run it was the Center show with 5 saves in a row and the UCSB offense scoring 4 goals during her string of saves. Senior defender Selina Eadie (Davis, CA) led the defense with 5 ground balls and 3 caused turnovers.

The top ranked and top seeded Gauchos improved to 20-2 to pick up a twenty win season but more importantly they advance to the semifinals of the WDIA National Championship Tournament at the Scottsdale Sports Complex. UCSB will play 5th ranked and 4th seeded University of Colorado, Boulder at 8pm on Friday night. The Buffaloes were 13-10 winners over 5th seeded and 4th ranked Cal Poly SLO in the other quarterfinal on the same side of the bracket as the Gauchos.

"Jeni made some saves in the second half that really sparked us," said UCSB head coach Paul Ramsey, commenting on what helped turn the tide for the Gauchos in the second half as they responded to being down by a goal for the 4th time in the game. 

Junior Maggie Aker (Oakland, CA) won the opening draw and UCSB ran some early offense to get quick looks at the goal to start the game. A sign of how tough goals would be to come by was Michigan freshman goalie Emmy Scheidt (Birmingham, MI) turning back two different sequences and shots by the Gauchos on their first two shots on goal. Both shots were good looks at the cage with the Wolverine defense beaten. Scheidt eventually had 19 saves and the Wolverines were in the game because of her as UCSB outshot Michigan 24-18. Senior Julie Baskind (Framingham, MA) scored the first of her three goals to open up all scoring and give Michigan a 1-0 lead 5:05 into the contest.

Scheidt started off quick but Centner got busy at her end of the field. She had 4 saves in the first half as UCSB scratched their way back from being down 0-1, 1-2 and 2-3 over the first 18 minutes of play. Centner really stepped up in the second half with 5 saves that came during the 4-0 run by UCSB that had the Gauchos up 9-6 with 5:33 remaining in the game.  Center finished with 9 saves for a 52.9% effort.

Junior  Sam Lutz  (San Diego, CA) assisted sophomore Alyssa Nelsen (Denver, CO) for a goal with 10:49 remaining in the first half that tied it at 3-3. UCSB got the go ahead goal about 5 minutes later when Aker netted a penalty shot beating Scheidt with a bouncer a few steps into the 8 meter. A little ping pong back and forth with a save by Scheidt and then one by Centner gave UCSB the ball with less than 2 minutes left in the half. The Gauchos worked for the last shot and took more than 90 seconds off the clock before mounting an attack that resulted in sophomore Ashley Antoon-Algieri (San Ramon, CA) finding a cutting Lutz backside for a goal that put UCSB up 5-3 with 20 seconds remaining. Unfortunately for UCSB, Michigan won the draw advanced it easily and senior Rachel Lary (San Diego, CA) got it behind the net where she drove and dished to junior Amy Johnson (Washington, DC) who scored with 2 seconds on the clock.  The halftime score was 5-4 in favor of UCSB.

"We did the right thing at the offensive end at the end of the half," said Ramsey after the game. "Typically we would like to wait until there's 15 seconds left before we take a shot. But Sam opened up so early on our first couple of ball movement passes there's no fault to be found with Ashley giving it to her and Sam scoring with 20 seconds left."

"If it doesn't go in then 20 seconds isn't a lot of time for them to clear the ball 100 yards against our ride and get a good look at our end."

"As it was we scored and they won the draw and had 20 seconds to cover only 50 yards and they got a score but they're a good team so it's going to happen that they get some goals of their own in tight situations."

Michigan took that momentum from their own last second goal into the second half. The Wolverines won two draw controls and scored two unanswered and unassisted goals in the first two possessions with less than a minute elapsed on each possession. The Wolverines ran two consecutive isolation plays and UCSB did not slide to help the defender on the ball. Baskind got the first one 59 seconds into the second half and then Johnson got the next one just 44 seconds later.  Ramsey called a time out immediately to address it with the defense.

"Our defenders had their backs to the ball as their attackers cut through to take them away from the ball," commented Ramsey. "They were obvious isolation plays on the part of Michigan and a lapse of basic see the ball defense on our part so we had to fix it immediately."

The Gauchos responded with a team effort on defense and the saves by Centner to hold Michigan scoreless for the next 27 minutes of the game and go on, you guessed it, their four goal run inside 15 minutes of that 27 minutes the Wolverines could not find the goal. Lutz scored on an 8 meter, senior Matty Evoy-Mount (Davis, CA) scored on a pass from Aker, Antoon-Algieri scored unassisted and freshman Meg Cruse (San Diego, CA) scored on a pass from Antoon-Algieri during the four goal run. The Gauchos had the aforementioned 9-6 lead with 5:33 remaining and it brought up the age old question about stalling with that much time left on the clock or still be aggressive about making something happen. Obviously three goals is enough but 5 minutes is a long time to stall and it opens up a team for a deflating turnover and quick goal that sparks the other team.

"We need to discuss this again as a team before our game tomorrow," concluded Ramsey after being asked about the two quick goals Michigan scored in the last two minutes of play to make it a little more interesting than necessary. Michigan only got the ball to get the first of the two last minute goals because UCSB turned it over forcing the ball to the crease going to goal through two defenders when they didn't need to go to goal.

"We talked about waiting for something good and if it's not there then pull it out and move the ball...but everyone's view on when something is good is different."

Aker said after the game, "We need to be able to hold onto the ball without making it look like we're stalling but I think we have a problem with going to goal when we don't need to do so."

The Gauchos can score goals in bunches so if the offense can get a common mindset about when to go to goal and when not to go to goal it will help them in tight game situations.

"We can make the run to get ahead and then hold onto the ball to win the game," said Ramsey.  "We just need everyone on the field to buy into it."

UCSB and Colorado have yet to play this season. A game between them was tentatively scheduled for April 5th at the Western States Tournament at Stanford but a change in tournament travel plans in January by the Buffaloes eliminated that match-up. The two teams are the only ones to have held the #1 ranking in the WDIA National Top 25 Poll this season. Colorado was a unanimous #1 for the first 5 weeks of the poll. When they stumbled in a  5-8 loss to Colorado State the same weekend UCSB upset then 2nd ranked Santa Clara the Gauchos took the top spot. UCSB opened the season ranked 5th, improved to 3rd and had that spot for one week, then improved to 2nd and held that for two weeks before moving up to 1st in the March 25th poll and they've held that since.

Colorado is 16-3 with losses to CSU, Northern Colorado (on a forfeit) and Lindenwood in an 11-10 loss at home. The national semifinal between UCSB and Colorado will be at 8pm on Friday, following the other national semifinal between 6th ranked Virginia Tech (17-2) and 11th ranked Florida (15-4). The Hokies, seeded 6th, and the Gators, seeded 10th, have not played each other this season either so both semifinals are first-time match-ups for 2009. Virginia Tech upset defending national champion Colorado State 12-11 in their quarterfinal and Florida upset 2nd ranked and 2nd seeded Santa Clara 12-10 in overtime in the other quarterfinal.

WDIA Tournament Scoreboard

WDIA Tournament Blog by Claire Lochary of Lacrosse Magazine On-Line


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