Towson’s come-from-behind 12-11 victory over visiting UMBC at Johnny Unitas Stadium Wednesday night relied on an offense that scored the final four goals of the contest. It also wouldn’t have been possible without the play of Andrew Wascavage.
The junior goalkeeper made a career-best 17 saves – including five each in the first and third quarters – in what he described as his most complete game of the season.
“I finally put together a full game,” he said. “I’ve had good halves so far this season, but haven’t put together a whole game. In the first half, I came out slow against Delaware, and I played well in the second half. Against Hofstra, I played better in the first half than the second half.”
During one sequence midway through the second quarter, Wascavage used his facemask to stop an offering from Retrievers junior attackman Scott Jones in the slot and then dove to turn aside sophomore attackman Matt Gregoire’s rebound attempt. Wascavage also stoned Jones on a one-on-one and blocked another Jones shot from in front in the third quarter.
“He was fantastic,” Tigers coach Shawn Nadelen said. “When he couldn’t get his stick on it, his body was on it, his face was on it, his leg was on it, his foot. He’s going to need an ice bath for the next two days to make sure those bruises don’t swell up and we can still recognize him. He was terrific. Seventeen saves, that is unbelievable.”
Jones praised Wascavage, saying, “He made a couple saves off his foot. But we’ve just got to look for the net and score next time. We can’t let the goalie get in our heads.”
Wascavage didn’t go so far as to say that he was in the heads of the UMBC shooters, but he did credit his performance to studying their tendencies on film.
“I definitely scouted them,” he said. “I knew what they were going to do. I know where I’ve been bad in the past, and I get a lot of practice on that. So I just felt that I practiced and scouted the team well.”
*Towson’s reward for outlasting UMBC Wednesday night? A trip to Amherst, Mass., to face No. 3 and Colonial Athletic Association foe Massachusetts (9-0 overall and 2-0 in the league). Nadelen said the Tigers (7-3, 2-0) will practice Thursday before flying Friday morning and practicing in Amherst, but the emphasis will be on mental preparation. “We’ve got to be smart these next two days,” he said. “We’ve got to understand that we need to do maybe a little bit more of the mental preparation and understand what UMass does rather than the physical side. These guys – from Hofstra until now – are putting a lot of emotional and physical and mental strain on themselves winning these close games. They’ve got to be healthy in all phases heading up to UMass.”
*The Retrievers learned earlier in the week that they lost junior midfielder Neill Lewnes for the remainder of the season after he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in a knee in the team’s 16-12 victory over Hartford last Saturday. Sophomore Will Fejes, who assumed Lewnes’ role on faceoffs and defense, collected two groundballs, but coach Don Zimmerman conceded that it will be difficult to replace Lewnes, who had led the team in groundballs (30) and ranked second in caused turnovers (nine). “I think I’m speaking for the players and the coaches. We lost our best player when Neill Lewnes went out with a torn ACL,” Zimmerman said of the Arnold native and St. Mary’s graduate. “I feel terrible for him, and I feel terrible for his family. He just did so much for us, and he was the heart of our team. But these things happen in sports, and somebody’s got to step up and fill his spot, and the whole team has to step up. The whole team has to step up and everybody has to elevate their game to make up for losing such a quality player.”
*Like Towson, UMBC (3-5 overall and 1-0 in the America East) has to make a quick turnaround to face league rival Vermont (1-8, 0-1). And like the Tigers, the Retrievers will practice on campus Thursday before flying to Manchester and then taking a bus to Burlington. “It’s something we’ve got to do,” Zimmerman said. “Tomorrow, we’ll talk about Vermont and point out some of the mistakes we made today. Friday is a travel day. We’ll go up there and we’ll get one more practice in. but they’re always tough at home, and our guys have to have a feeling in their gut that they want something back and go out and prove that we can finish better than we finished tonight.”