Towson women's lacrosse coach Sonia LaMonica was hoping to get more production from attack this season to take some pressure off the defense, which helped the Tigers win eight of nine one-goal games last season.
However, the loss of the Tigers' top two scorers to injuries put a damper on those plans. In Wednesday's game against UMBC, No. 16 Towson again dominated the defensive end and this time found a spark with Kelly Custer and Olivia Turner, who combined for seven goals in an 11-8 victory. The Tigers picked up their first win of the season after losing by three goals to both then-No. 5 North Carolina and then-No. 12 Georgetown to open the season.
"It's a work in progress," LaMonica said about the offense. "I think we have some players who have really stepped up to fill some important voids. With all considered, I think we're doing a pretty good job of stepping up. Players like Kelly are really stepping up to play real leadership roles on the offense for us."
Towson (1-2) has spent the early part of the season looking to players ready to carry the offense. Andi Raymond, a junior and last year's leading scorer with 68 points, took a medical redshirt for an undisclosed injury. Ashleigh Rohrback, a redshirt junior who was the team's second-leading scorer, is out indefinitely also with an undisclosed injury.
Against the Retrievers on Wednesday, Custer led the way with four goals and Turner added three. Goalie Kelsea Donnelly (South River), a first-year starter for the Tigers, was stellar with 10 saves.
UMBC (2-1) was led by Kristen Bilney (Mount Hebron), who finished with three goals.
Towson got two late goals by Turner and Christina Antonini (Severn) just over a minute apart for a 4-2 lead at the break. UMBC put a bigger emphasis on controlling possession, and goals by Sam Nolan (Fallston) and Bilney offset two scores by Turner. UMBC then tied the game as Bilney and Nolan struck again with just under 18 minutes remaining.
The Tigers got separation on goals by Custer and Sarah Maloof (South River), forcing UMBC to call a timeout with 11:57 left. After Shannon Harkey pulled the Retrievers to within a goal almost two minutes later, Paige Duncan (Broadneck) answered for Towson for 9-7 with 8:29 remaining.
"We've just realize the potential we have," Custer said. "Personally, I feel that knowing every team is going to be a fight, we all are going to have to step it up. UMBC came out really strong today, and I felt I needed to respond and help the other girls on my team respond."
Goals by Rhiannon Coogle (North Harford) and Custer helped sealed the game for Towson in the final four minutes. Harkey and Alyssa Semones cut the margin with 1:34 left, but Towson simply ran out the clock.
"Obviously I'd like to win every game, but the one thing I like about this team is hard we battle," said Tony Giro, who is a UMBC's co-coach with Amy Appelt. "We trailed all game long, things weren't necessarily going our way in a lot of facets, but we kept shots on cage. We have to find a way to get over the top."