"When you win a lot," noted Brian McManus, head coach of the 20-1 UCSD, "you begin to doubt yourselves, especially here in the Final Four. 'Is this when we'll start making mistakes?' We just hoped that things we've done right all year came through."
Amherst earned the first goal in the 28th minute. Shaunette Richards sent a cross into the net to give the Jeffs the early lead. "In most other games," noted Amherst midfielder Eliza Meade, "we feel some sense of security. But this time we knew we couldn't let down our guard for one second."
Trailing for only the second time all season, the Tritons took 12 shots against Amherst, sending three careening over the crossbar and forcing Jeff keeper Sarah Fabian to make six skillful saves. With less than two-and-a-half minutes remaining in the first half, Ele Johnson served a ball from the endline to junior Lauren Johnson for her sixth goal of this tournament. Lauren surpasses Cyndi Marshall of Trenton State for the most goals in a single tournament.
UCSD fought through screaming fans supporting the home team to post a second goal early in the second half. Amherst turned up the offensive pressure as the Jeffs hoped to extend their season, but time ran out before the Amherst netted an equalizer.
"We've overachieved all year," reflected Amherst head coach Michelle Morgan, "and we've experienced playing behind and ahead. But we've played right to the end of every game all season. We know we're a championship caliber team -- we'll take a week off not and look forward to next season."
Amherst (12-2-3) 1 0 -- 1
UCSD (20-1) 1 1 -- 2
Scoring: AC Shaunette Richards 28:55, UCSD Lauren Johnson (Ele Johnson) 42:47, UCSD Toni Nunez 51:53.
Shots: AC 3, UCSD 12.
Goalie Saves: AC Sarah Fabian 6, UCSD Kelly Pearson 2.
New Jersey dominated the offense in the first half until late in the period. Chicago set up for a direct kick with 20 seconds in the half and worked the clock until the Maroons sent a lob toward the net, a shot forcing New Jersey keeper Daniela Kolarsick to make a leaping deflection over the crossbar at the halftime buzzer.
Chicago began the second half with that same momentum, taking eight of their nine shots. But the teams found the back of the net only once as New Jersey scored in the 63rd minute. The Lions had carried the ball up field after a long Chicago possession and finally knocked the ball to the top of the box for the game winner.
New Jersey betters its record to 19-1-2 and will face UCSD in the final tomorrow. In head-to-head competition, the two teams have met only once in the 1994 Championship game with New Jersey claiming the title.
This is Chicago's first ever appearance in the NCAA Tournament. The Maroons are coached by Amy Howley Reifert, an Amherst graduate from the Class of 1986. Reifert played and coached under Michelle Morgan in the mid-80's.
University of Chicago (16-4-1) 0 0 -- 0
The College of New Jersey (19-1-2) 0 1 -- 1
Scoring: TCNJ Beth Barrio 63:00.
Shots: UC 9, TCNJ 17.
Goalie Saves: UC Maria Cardow 9, TCNJ Daniela Kolarsick 5.