The Towson men's lacrosse team took just one lead in Tuesday night's game against Navy, and that's all the Tigers would need.
Sophomore midfielder Greg Cuccinello's goal with 10:28 remaining in the fourth quarter gave Towson an 8-7 victory over the Midshipmen before an announced 824 at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.
The Tigers trailed for 38 minutes, 42 seconds — including a 3-0 deficit after the first quarter — but Cuccinello's heroics led them to the program's first win at Navy.
"It was like we took a big punch in a big boxing match," said sophomore attackman Cory Dobyns, who tied junior midfielder Robby Zoppo with a game-high three points. "But what do you have to do in a boxing match? You have to recover from that punch, and I think that's what we did. I think there was a timeout and we just got together and as an offensive player, I got the offense together and I just encouraged us more. I think our sideline started getting more energy and our players started getting more energy, and that's really what turned it around."
Towson's comeback was mildly surprising after Navy (3-4) sprinted to a 3-0 advantage. The Tigers (3-4) had been outscored, 15-8, in the first quarter of games this season and were still smarting from a 10-9 overtime loss to Marist on Friday night.
But Tuesda's rally may just be the boost Towson needs as it prepares for its Colonial Athletic Association schedule to begin in nine days.
"It's huge," said senior goalkeeper Andrew Wascavage, who made a game-high 14 saves. "It kind of gives us confidence. We were kind of down with the past few losses that we really thought we should've won. So it's definitely a confidence booster knowing how we can play together when we're all firing."
The Tigers' fell behind by committing eight of their 18 turnovers in the quarter to go with just three shots. Coach Shawn Nadelen said the offense's poor play at the start put some undue stress on the defense.
"I was more frustrated at the offense because we had such quick possessions and careless turnovers," he said. "The defense, I thought, was digging in and playing decently. Although we gave up three goals, two of them were fluke goals, but they earned it. I didn't feel like it was really going away, but I think the energy was still good on the sideline and in the huddle. Our guys knew what they had to do."
After the teams traded goals to open the second quarter, the Tigers scored four of the next five goals, including three over a span of 1:33. Zoppo registered a goal and an assist during the run.
The Midshipmen regained a two-goal lead with tallies from senior midfielder Bryce Dabbs and junior attackman Tucker Hull coming with 13:35 and 7:17 left in the third quarter, respectively. But that's when Towson embarked on another three-goal spurt.
With 4:10 left in the third quarter, Dobyns was standing at the right wing and centered the ball to junior midfielder Andrew Hodgson cutting through the middle. Hodgson beat Navy senior goalie Nolan Hickey inside the left post.
Less than seven minutes later, senior midfielder Neil Hutchinson passed to junior attackman Devin Grimaldi, who rifled the ball past Hickey to knot the score at seven. That set up Cuccinello, who beat his defender and curled around the left post to tuck the ball into the lower part of the cage.
The Midshipmen had a last-gasp chance to send the game into overtime, but junior attackman Sam Jones' shot sailed over the net and the clock ran out. Dabbs led Navy with two goals, but the team suffered its fourth loss in its last five games.
"You give up eight goals, you can't ask for much better than that," coach Rick Sowell said. "... To give up eight goals total, you'd like to think you're going to win your fair share of games if you keep your opponent at eight goals. Certainly a good job by our defense."Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun