Towson goalie Mary Teeters started jumping up and down as soon as the final buzzer sounded in Sunday's Colonial Athletic Association women's lacrosse championship. She finally stopped when her teammates swarmed her at midfield.
Teeters' save with 20 seconds left secured an 8-7 victory over James Madison and the No. 17 Tigers' fourth CAA title in seven years. The Tigers will host an NCAA tournament play-in game at 7 p.m. Saturday against Monmouth, the Northeast Conference champion, atJohnny Unitas Stadium.
The tournament's Most Outstanding Player who finished with seven saves, Teeters made two big plays in the final 40 seconds to help the Tigers (15-3) win their eighth one-goal game this season and their second in eight days over the two-time defending CAA champion Dukes (11-7).
"This means a whole lot to the program," Teeters, a Centennial graduate, said. "I think one of the hardest things in sports is to play a good team twice and beat them twice, especially JMU, our top conference rival. Back-to-back in a week, it's huge."
The game, played at the Towson Soccer Complex, started off just as close as the Tigers' 10-9 double-overtime victory a week earlier. The game was tied six times, and neither team led by more than a goal until the Tigers went up 8-6 with 7:09 to go.
That lead came as the Tigers mounted the only three-goal run, starting with back-to-back goals from Ashleigh Rohrback and Olivia Turner for a 7-6 edge with 11:55 remaining.
Andi Raymond, who also had three assists, then got the jump on her defender behind the crease and rolled around for the game-winner and an 8-6 lead with 7:09 to go.
At that point, Towson had won 12 of 17 draws, but James Madison won the next two and dominated possession the rest of the game.
Amy Roguski brought the Dukes within one with 5:14 left when she broke loose on the crease and rolled around for her second goal.
The Dukes kept the pressure on the young Towson defense, but CAA Coach of the Year Sonia Lamonica's Tigers held them off despite playing the last 1:45 man-down. Teeters, a Tewaaraton nominee with a .511 save rate, controlled the action around her crease.
The senior goalie's first big play in the final minute came when she gambled on a move out of the crease to attempt an interception. She didn't get the ball but upset the Dukes' offense. They tried for the quick pass to the front of the crease but dropped it and had to reset their offense.
With 32 seconds left, the Dukes' Ashley Kimener sent a free-position shot over the goal, but the Dukes won the ball and set up one last shot taken by Caitlin McHugh with 20 seconds to go. The All-CAA goalie saved it, grabbed the ground ball and quickly cleared it down field.
"Our defense played great," Teeters said. "I can't remember how long they had the ball at the end of the game, but it felt like forever and my defense did a great job keeping them out. They got an 8-meter in there, and I just saw the ball and went for it and cleared it out."
The Tigers were playing without All-CAA defender Alexa Demski, sidelined with a knee injury, but their young group, led by Katie Leech, Michelle Dufault, Kaitlin Sheridan and Shannon Kennedy kept the Dukes' attack from gaining much momentum.
"Ultimately, it's a game of possession, and we had to earn our possessions with defensive stops today. I think our defense did a great job of creating those opportunities for our offense, but unfortunately, we couldn't win the ball on the draw and we also were beaten in ground balls," said Dukes coach Shelley Klaes-Bawcombe, whose team was without a pair of key players and team captains injured late in the season — CAA Player of the Year Casey Ancarrow, an attacker, and midfielder Annie Brophy.
James Madison 3 4 — 7
Towson 3 5 — 8
Goals: JM—Zabel 2, Roguski 2, Kimener, McHugh, McLouth; T—Custer 3, Turner 2, Raymond, Rohrback, Coogle.
Assists: JM—Zabel 2, Curwin; T—Raymond 3, Appelt 2, Rorhback 2.
Saves: JM—Healy 4; T—Teeters 7.