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Towson uses strong first half to beat Navy, 14-9

When the teams met in a men's lacrosse game last season, Towson rallied for an 8-7 win last March. On Tuesday night, the tables were turned, but a comeback was not in the cards.

The No. 19 Tigers forged an eight-goal advantage in the first half and held on for a 14-9 victory at Johnny Unitas Stadium on Tuesday night in front of an announced 749.

The Tigers improve to 5-2 after exploding for nine goals in their most effective first half of the year. That output matched or exceeded the team's production in four games this season, and the 14 goals scored by Towson are a season high.

Senior attackman Thomas DeNapoli led all scorers with two goals and two assists. Junior midfielder Greg Cuccinello recorded a hat trick, and freshman attackman Joe Seider (Hereford) scored twice.

The key for the Tigers was the offensive display in the first half. They scored on 52.9 percent (9 of 17) of their shots, including 54.5 percent (6 of 11) in the second quarter.

"We were really hitting our shots tonight," said DeNapoli, who scored just once in the last meeting against the Midshipmen. "Last two games, I think we've been starting to find our offensive game. We've got a couple freshmen that have been playing a lot, and they're starting to hit their groove. We've been getting good looks all season, but early in the year, we weren't finishing them. Tonight, we finished the ball well in the first half."

Towson finished the game shooting 50 percent (14 of 28), but coach Shawn Nadelen was equally impressed with the goal distribution among nine players.

"Being 50 percent with 28 shots and 14 goals, that's great production and having those many guys score is something that we've seen in practice," he said. "The more guys that can contribute, the better we're going to be. Every guy works just as hard and our offense is geared toward everybody having an opportunity. When you have that opportunity, you have to capitalize, and the guys did a good job of that."

The Tigers scored the game's first three goals courtesy of DeNapoli, freshman midfielder Michael Lynch (Boys' Latin) and Seider.

The Midshipmen (3-3) appeared to stem the tide when senior attackman Sam Jones (Severna Park) drew two Towson defenders and found senior attackman Tucker Hull alone on the crease with 1 minute, 12 seconds left in the first quarter.

But in a play that exemplified Navy's futility, freshman short-stick defensive midfielder John Trainor, while attempting to clear the ball, turned back to pass the ball to goalkeeper John Connors. The problem was that the sophomore had vacated the net, and the ball rolled in for an own goal that helped the Tigers regain a three-goal cushion.

Towson proceeded to score five unanswered goals in a 6:05 span. The Jones-to-Hull connection 2:13 into the third quarter ended the run and an 18:25 drought for the Midshipmen, who outscored the Tigers, 8-5, in the second half. But it was a case of too little, too late.

Junior midfielder Gabe Voumard scored three goals, and Hull and junior attackman Jack Hinderland added two each, but a defense that had allowed just 7.6 goals per game surrendered a season worst to Towson.

It was a disappointing showing for a Midshipmen team that had looked so overpowering in an 11-3 rout of Patriot League rival Lafayette on Friday night. Coach Rick Sowell accepted the blame for the squad's poor showing.

"I didn't have my team ready to play," he said. "You can't get down 9-1 at half and expect that things are going to work out for you in the second half. … Probably one of the worst first halves we've played, certainly this year. You've got to give a lot of credit to Towson, but it seemed like we couldn't do anything right and they couldn't do anything wrong. It was just one of those halves that we probably didn't see coming."

edward.lee@baltsun.com

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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