The players for both Towson and UMBC were fully prepared for another tight, physical matchup heading into their annual nonconference game on Tuesday at Johnny Unitas Stadium.
There had been little separation between the rivals over the years, as nine of their past 11 meetings were decided by three goals or fewer.
This game was no different, as the No. 20 Tigers received goals from Devin Grimaldi, Max Siskind and Mike Lynch in a span of two minutes late in the fourth quarter, which led to a 10-8 victory.
Towson extended its winning streak to five games heading into Saturday's Colonial Athletic Association opener with rival Delaware. The Tigers have now won the past three meetings against the Retrievers and lead the all-time series, 30-15.
"I'm excited for our guys tonight, earning that win against a very tough UMBC team," Towson coach Shawn Nadelen said. "Going into the game, we knew it was going to be a battle in a few different ways. They're just a dangerous team, and play some really tough competition. I was excited to see our guys really respond."
Towson (6-2) did another solid job spreading the ball around as seven players scored. DeNapoli, Grimaldi and Siskind led the way with two goals each. The Tigers defense was stellar, holding UMBC to just two second-half goals, and goalie Tyler White finished with 12 saves.
Matt Gregoire (South River), who entered the game leading the Retrievers with 18 goals, finished with two. Jack Gannon had a hat trick for UMBC (3-4), which will travel to Mount St. Mary's on Saturday.
Retrievers goalie Connor Gordon, who had double-digit saves in each of his six games this season, had 14 saves on Tuesday, including several from close range.
The teams traded goals for most of the night. A score by Siskind from 10 yards out tied the game at six with 4:24 left in the third quarter, the sixth time the game was tied. DeNapoli then provided a 7-6 lead three minutes later.
"I thought we played a really strong first half. I was pleased," UMBC coach Don Zimmerman said. "It was a back-and-forth affair and we were able to take a one-goal lead into halftime. I was really disappointed in our third period. I thought we came out and turned the ball over."
Gannon tied the game with a man-advantage goal with 8:47 left in the game. From there, though, the Tigers took control on the goals by Grimaldi, Siskind and Lynch (Boys Latin). Zach Linkous (St. Paul's) pulled UMBC to within two goals in the final minute, but Towson was able to run out the clock.
The Tigers outshot UMBC, 37-34, and won the ground ball battle, 27-22. The Retrievers were just 2 of 6 in extra-man opportunities.
"I feel like we have a lot of balance as a team," Grimaldi said. "We managed to come back in the fourth and really stay composed. We never really were down on ourselves. We kept the fight going and were able to score a few goals at the end there."
Gannon gave UMBC an early lead with an unassisted goal just 56 seconds into the game. Ben McCarty (South Carroll) and DeNapoli then answered for Towson before Gregoire tied the game at two with 4:10 left in the quarter.
The Tigers then took advantage of a UMBC penalty as Ryan Drenner (Westminster) scored an extra-man goal to open the second quarter. But the Retrievers' Max Maxwell tied the game again when he picked up a loose ball and fired it into the top of the net, forcing the Tigers to call a timeout with 11:53 remaining in the second quarter.
Greg Cuccinello gave Towson the lead once again, but Gregoire tied the game at four with six minutes left in the half. The Tigers had another response as Grimaldi's low shot two minutes later gave them a 5-4 lead. However, Gannon and Pat Young each scored in the final three minutes to give the Retrievers a 6-5 lead at halftime.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun