Catonsville senior Nate Wess proved he was more than a faceoff specialist when he scored the tying and game-winning goals 31 seconds apart in the fourth quarter in the host Comets’ 5-4 triumph over Towson.
Wess scored from 10 yards in front of goalie Alex Hochrein with a one-hopper with 6:54 left in the fourth quarter and did it again from nearly the same spot with 6:23 remaining.
“We just talked about it at half and we were kind of laying back a little bit and we needed to come out angry,” said Wess, who practiced the same shot before the game. “Our defense was grinding the entire game, like I give that entire game to our defense. So I knew I needed to do something to help out the team and everybody needed to work together and I just thought it was my time to step up and I took my opportunity.”
The Comets had trailed 3-0 until Wade Davis broke the ice with 27 seconds left in the first half.
Catonsville coach KR Schultz has seen Wess take the same shots and had no doubt he could convert.
“That is just Nate hustling,” Schultz said. “We trust him on offense, so we took advantage of the opportunities. It was a heckuva job by him. We trust him in a lot of different spots, but that worked for him right there and we are happy it did.”
Towson coach Phil Rossetti said he wasn’t caught by surprise by Wess.
“We knew he was good and we know if you have a good faceoff guy, you are going to have an opportunity to put the ball in the cage and we knew that,” Rossetti said.
Wess won 5 of 6 faceoffs in the second half, but admitted he had a lot of help battling Towson’s Nicholas Dance.
“[Dance] is a great faceoff guy, but I thought we did what we could do in order to control the ball, control the faceoffs and win all the ground balls,” Wess said. “My wings did wonderful. Will Roberson, he did great on the wing, it was just a team effort.”
Towson’s Hutton Lipinski and Alex Tyler scored goals in the first quarter and William Kennedy scored one early in the second before the Comets finally got on board against stingy Towson long-stick defenders Boomer Osborn, Parker Hersh, Matthew Spencer, Zach Mangiafico and long-stick midfielder Patrick Corbett.
Wade Davis scored the Comets’ first goal with 27 seconds left in the first half.
Catonsville cut the lead to 3-2 in the third quarter on a goal by long-stick defender John Gorski. They tied it 70 seconds later when Eric Kaplan assisted Dylan Stevenson from behind the goal.
Towson regained the lead on a goal by Kennedy late in the third quarter, setting the stage for a dominant fourth quarter by the Comet defense that included longsticks Gorski, Will Roberson, Cole Lovell and Steven Weedon and goalie Gabe Wallman.
“We’ve been fortunate that we’ve had good defenses and these guys are awesome,” Schultz said. “A lot of them are guys that have gotten a lot of playing time. John Gorski is in his third year as a starter and he is stepping up.”
Schultz also praised starting goalie Wallman who took over for graduated Brian Ruppel, now the starting goalie for the University of Maryland.
“I’m so pumped for him, I thought he played great. He is super focused and he wants it so bad,” Schultz said. “I thought he did a really good job getting the ball and clearing the ball and he was communicating with the defense and picking the guys up and he had a clutch save there at the end.”
After a Towson time-out with 4:39 remaining in the game, Kennedy took two shots off the post and they held the ball in the Comet zone until Roberson forced a turnover and William Turner scooped up the ground ball with 45 seconds left and the Comets ran out the clock.
“It was the second game of the year and we knew coming in it was going to be a dogfight,” Rossetti said. “We knew it was going to be a low-scoring game, two good goalies and two solid defenses, so we knew we had to score a few more goals. Four goals wasn’t really going to cut it.”
Towson evened its record at 1-1 after defeating Eastern Tech in its opener, 16-2.
“I’m proud of the effort, second game of the year, I’m proud of the boys. A few turnovers here and there, I think if we clean up our own mistakes we are going to learn from it,” Rossetti said. “It’s no time to holds our heads down, we have Fallston on Monday.”
Catonsville improved to 2-0 after a season-opening 9-6 victory over Century.
The Comets will play at Mount Saint Joseph at 4 p.m. Tuesday. Before the game there will be a tribute to popular former MSJ assistant coach Brent Johnson, who passed away suddenly on March 3.