Strong efforts up the middle fuel upset bid by Towson men’s lacrosse

The Towson men’s lacrosse team fell short in its bid to upend No. 9 Loyola Maryland in a 12-8 loss on Wednesday afternoon at Ridley Athletic Complex that was not decided until the fourth quarter.

A pair of little-known players were crucial to the Tigers’ attempt.

Redshirt freshman goalkeeper Shane Brennan made a game-high 14 saves, including five in the fourth quarter and eight in the second half. At least eight of those stops involved shots by Greyhounds players either just off the crease or less than 10 yards from the net.

Making his third start of the season because senior Josh Miller is battling an illness, Brennan said his first save against freshman attackman Kevin Lindley just seconds into the first quarter helped him settle into the game.

“It helps out a lot,” he said. “When you save the first shot of the game, it gives you lot of confidence for the rest of the game. Even if you don’t save the first shot, you’ve just got to be ready for the next one. It definitely gives confidence, but you’ve just got to have a short memory when you make a save and have a short memory when you give up a goal and be ready for the next one.”

When junior Alex Woodall won only one of five faceoffs in the first quarter, Towson turned to senior Steven Stillwell, who had not taken a draw since May 22, 2016, in an NCAA tournament quarterfinal against Loyola. All Stillwell did was win 13 of 17 faceoffs — including 10 of 11 in the second and third quarters — and scoop up a game-high eight ground balls.

Stillwell said he never worried about rust or nerves.

“Loyola obviously got off to a good start,” he said. “It’s just kind of that next-man-up mentality. Always being ready to go in. As a faceoff unit, we’re pretty tight. We’re supportive of each other, but we’re always ready to step up when we’re called upon.”

Coach Shawn Nadelen appreciated the performances by Brennan and Stillwell.

“Obviously, Shane’s played for us, and he started the season for us, and it was great to see him kind of settle in and have a really strong game,” Nadelen said. “Steven has always given me confidence. As he’s known through his career here, it’s not the initial faceoff, it’s what happens afterwards, and he has improved his game dramatically. I told him and Woodall today after film that we would probably look to rotate in. With Alex taking so many on Saturday and not knowing how much gas he had left in the tank in a quick turnaround, Steve had to be ready. It happened a little bit quicker than I thought, but Steve, he’s always had confidence and he’s always had belief in himself, and he’s busted his butt. So that helps.”

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