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Towson advances to state semifinals for first time in 13 years with triumph over Bel Air

Towson senior Dyson Adams scored two goals and had three assists and Grant Kuehn had two goals and an assist to lead host Towson (14-4) to a 9-4 victory over Bel Air (10-6) in the Class 3A North Region boys lacrosse championship game.

Leighton Bechdel (one goal, two assists), Cole McNulty (one goal, one assist), Rob Welling and Mason Hickman (one goal each) also scored for the Generals, who will be making their first trip to the state semifinals since 2005 when they were a finalist.

Towson won its last state title in 1997.

Towson will play Westminster in the state semifinals.

The Owls defeated Linganore, 10-9, in overtime, in the Class 3A West Region finals.

“This was not going to be my last game as a senior,” Towson’s Adams said.

Bel Air was led by Ryan Chan (one goal, one assist).

Towson controlled the time of possession most of the game, thanks to the outstanding work of junior faceoff specialist Mitch Boudreau.

Boudreau, whose four ground balls tied for the team lead with classmate Rory Bateman, won both of his faceoffs in the first quarter when the Generals took a 1-0 lead.

Towson won 11 of 17 faceoffs overall.

“He’s a very good faceoff guy, he’s going to take them far,” Bel Air coach Doug Testerman said.

Towson made it 2-0 with 9:26 left in the second quarter when Adams assisted Welling.

But, the Bobcats refused to go away during the game that was played in a steady drizzle.

Chan assisted Jared Haas with 7:43 left and Josh Manley assisted Chan with 2:34 remaining in the half to tie the game at 2-2.

In between those goals, the Bobcats had two goals disallowed because the shooters were in the crease.

Towson came back and scored the final two goals of the half and took a 4-2 lead into intermission.

“They capitalized and the good teams are going to capitalize on mistakes,” Testerman said. “That is something that they are taught and they are well-coached. Obviously, a mistake at our end, turns into a goal at their end, however, those things happen game-to-game and I think we responded well.”

Towson forged ahead 3-2 with 1:50 left when Adams assisted Bechdel, and they expanded it to 4-2 when Kuehn converted Bechde’s pass with a back-handed reverse shot through his legs with his back to the goal.

“He shot it between his legs,” Towson coach Shawn Burke said. “It was beautiful, unbelievable.”

It was also demoralizing for the Bobcats, who allowed the first three goals to the Generals in the second half and trailed 7-2 in the third quarter.

Bechdel assisted Kuehn less than a minute into the second half, Adams scored with 8:26 left and Dyson got his third assist of the evening when he fed Mason Hickman.

Adams, one of five captains on the roster, admitted he was looking forward to finding his teammates.

“Myself, I haven’t really been playing as a team and I know I have to feed the ball, and if I do that, no one is going to be able to stop us,” Adams said.

His coach looked at it from a different perspective.

“Dyson is really a kid who is actually unselfish because he does whatever the team needs,” Burke said. “When Jack Bell graduated last year, our top guy, I think Dyson just put a lot of pressure on himself through the year to kind of take over that role and he’s a smart kid, I think as the season has progressed he’s turned into more of a distributor, kind of whatever we need, a fill in all the cracks kind of guy.”

There were no cracks in Towson’s defense that featured solid play from Teagan Hersch, Drew Evans, Carson Reed, Dan Schuck and Ryan Tyler in front of senior goalie Matt Simmons (six saves).

Evans, who had three ground balls, along with Adams and Matt Jahries, scooped his most important one after Bel Air had cut the lead to 7-4 following a goal by Andrew Tredinick late in the third quarter and extra-man score by Noah Persing, off a Brian Becker feed 10 seconds into the fourth quarter.

With under nine minutes left, Evans deflected a pass and picked up the ground ball and raced down the sideline to midfield before Towson coach Burk called time out with 8:13 left.

“Drew Adams, who is a senior defenseman, made a big play,” Burke said.

Burk inserted Bateman, whose tidy clears had been key all night, and he took it to the offensive zone.

Bel Air didn’t get a shot off the rest of the way and Towson got a goal from Welling, off McNulty’s assist, and McNulty scored the game’s final goal after a feed from Kuehn with 2:02 remaining.

“All the kids really wanted this,” said Burke, who praised his seniors.

Meanwhile, Testerman had high praise for his Bobcats.

“We gave everything we had, we played with all heart,” Testerman said. “We were down five starters this game with season-ending injuries.”

Bel Air lost three players with ACL knee injuries and two went out with ankle injuries.

“We were down to our sophomores, but these guys did absolutely everything they could and they left everything on the field and they supported our seniors in their game,” he said. “They outworked us and when it came down to it, they had more than we did and they deserved to win.”

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