Stanford 7, Loyola Marymount 6Dec. 3, 2005

Lewisburg, Pa. -- Stanford qualified for its 19th NCAA Championship game, its fifth in the last five years, after an intense semifinal game against LMU this afternoon. Stanford defeated the Lions, 7-6, and will face top-ranked USC for the NCAA Championship title tomorrow evening at 6:00pm (ET), at Bucknell University's Kinney Natatorium in Pennsylvania.

In an exciting semifinal showdown, Stanford took the 7-6 victory after a tremendous team effort by the Cardinal, with six players netting a goal. Graduating senior Marcello Pantuliano scored two of Stanford's seven goals against the Lions, tying his season best, while fellow senior Peter Varellas scored one goal in the third period off of a Thomas Hopkins assist. Hopkins and Varellas also won three of the four sprints, giving Stanford the advantage heading into the second, third, and fourth periods..

The first quarter, while getting off to a slow start, proved to be an even match-up between the two teams in the last minute of play. LMU's Endre Rex-Kiss scored the first goal of the match at 3:47, but after Stanford's Tyler Drake returned the point with 50 seconds remaining in the first period, the game got a jump-start. With 18 seconds left in the quarter, Andre Rex-Kiss scored another goal for the Lions, but Marcello Pantuliano got a goal in at the buzzer to tie it up, 2-2.

Stanford took control in the second period with a 3-1 run on the Lions. J..J. Garton netted a goal only 25 seconds into the quarter. Ryan Fortune and Marcello Pantuliano made back-to-back goals less than one minute apart at 3:59 and 3:01 in the second period. Cutberto Hernandez closed the first half with LMU's third goal with 1:17 remaining in the half.

Stanford, with the 5-3 advantage at the beginning of the second half, directed the ball to Peter Varellas for the first goal of the third period at 3:08. The Lions responded with another Hernandez goal at 2:25. Freshman William Hindle-Katel got on the board with a crucial goal with less than a minute remaining in the period, but LMU once again retaliated only 32 seconds later to end the third period Stanford 7, LMU 5.

The fourth quarter saw a step-up in defense for both teams. At 4:29 in the last period, LMU's Brian McShane scored the final goal of the game to end the Lion's NCAA tournament, and send Stanford to the Championship match.

USC Advances:USC defeated St. Francis (N.Y.) in today's first NCAA semifinal game, 14-8. The Trojans sprang to an early lead, after leading the Terriers 4-1 in the first quarter, then expanding the lead to 9-4 at the end of the first half. USC's offense slowed down in the next two quarters, as it only outscored St. Francis 5-4.Thomas Hale led USC's offensive effort with four goals, while Brandon Child and Tommy Corcoran each added two. For St. Francis, it was Bogdan Petrovic, Moran Stern and Botond Szalma, who each contributed two goals in the loss.

Tournament History:Tomorrow evening's NCAA Championships will be Stanford and USC's fifth match-up this season. Stanford has yet to take a victory from USC, losing a heart-breaker in the championship game of the SoCal tournament, 6-5; an intensely close loss in the semifinals of the NorCal tournament 10-9; yet another single point victory for USC on November 5 at USC's home pool, 8-7, and the championship match of the MPSF tournament last weekend, where Stanford took second place to USC, 8-5.

Stanford and USC faced off in the 2003 NCAA finals where the Trojans took the victory 9-7. Stanford has won 10 NCAA Championships, including the 2001 and 2002 titles against UCLA (8-5) and Cal (7-6) respectively.

-- Courtesy Stanford