Yesterday's 18-7 rout of visiting Vermont in the America East conference tournament semifinals at Minnegan Stadium sends the Tigers into Saturday's tournament title game against Hofstra, an 11-8 winner over Delaware in last night's other semifinal.
But Towson, which would earn an automatic bid with a victory and might be in position to receive an at-large invitation to the NCAAs regardless of what happens on Saturday, does not expect to have senior goalkeeper John Horrigan on hand.
Horrigan suffered a separated left shoulder nearly 12 minutes into the action yesterday after absorbing a cross check, then making back-to-back saves. Horrigan, a four-year starter enjoying his best season, was taken to St. Joseph's Hospital, where he also was suffering from heat exhaustion and dehydration, according to Tigers coach Tony Seaman.
Senior Ryan Nash, who has backed up Horrigan for four years, responded by playing a career-high 48 minutes and tying a career high with nine saves.
"I don't think it looks good for Saturday, and [Horrigan] might be gone for the rest of the season beyond that," Seaman said. "I've got to go back and look at the tape, because I didn't even see it happen. Our other kid played great. I have all of the confidence in the world in Nash for Saturday. What I don't have is another backup."
Freshman goalie Kevin Cross has logged about 10 minutes of playing time this season. The injury to Horrigan, who has been nursing the shoulder since taking an open-field hit on it three weeks ago against Hartford, put a damper on an otherwise big day for the Tigers, who continued their remarkable turnaround by blowing out Vermont for the second time in 18 days.
Towson, which finished 3-10 a year ago but improved to 11-3 yesterday, had opened with three unanswered goals before losing Horrigan, but the Tigers hardly missed a beat without him. They took a 7-0 lead early in the second quarter before the Catamounts scored.
Towson led 13-2 at halftime. It got so bad for Vermont (8-6) that the Catamounts replaced goalkeeper Ed Burns with defenseman Shawn Ryan in the second half.
Towson attackman Ryan Obloj led the way with three goals and three assists, all in the first half. Attackman Brad Reppert also finished with three goals and three assists. Midfielder Hunter Lochte added two goals and two assists. Kyle Campbell and Jay Horowitz had two goals apiece.
"John always comes up big when we need him," Obloj said of Horrigan. "It's terrible to have someone so important to our success leave the game like that. We knew we had to keep control of the game, keep scoring goals to help our backup goalie. Hopefully, Ryan can step up again."
Seaman thinks the ninth-ranked Tigers have proved their worth to the NCAA tournament selection committee, regardless of Saturday's result. The 12-team field will be announced on Sunday.
"I feel very good about winning on Saturday and getting the automatic bid. But if the NCAA doesn't take us after today's win [in the event of a Saturday loss], I'll be very disappointed," Seaman said. "I'm not sure anyone in the top 12 is saying, 'Yeah, we'd love to play Towson in the first round.' "
Vermont 0 2 3 2 - 7
Towson 6 7 2 3 - 18
Goals: V-Moses, Hopper, McKnight, Dias, Hajek, Prior, Ginty. T-Obloj 3, Reppert 3, Horowitz 2, Campbell 2, Lochte 2, Tankersley, Fountain, Albert, Baxter, Cornett, Berry. Assists: V-Hajek, Casserley, Ginty, Thompson, Moses; T-Reppert 3, Obloj 3, Lochte 2. Saves: V-Burns 6, Ryan 6; T-Nash 9, Horrigan 2.