WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- Towson men's soccer coach Frank Olszewski has a system in place for building the Tigers' program, and making the NCAA tournament is proof that his system works.
But that thought didn't take the sting out of Towson's elimination from the tournament, as the Tigers lost, 2-1, to second-seeded Wake Forest in the third round yesterday.
"It was a privilege to coach these guys, and they've gotten to reap some of the rewards from that," said Olszewski, who led the Tigers into the NCAA tournament for just the second time in his 25 years as head coach. "They've left a foundation that can go a long way.
"But these guys thought they could win any game they were in this year, against any team. They very nearly did, but they came up short and Wake won."
After battling to a scoreless tie in the first half, the 15th-seeded Tigers (15-2-3) gave up goals to Steven Curfman and Zack Schilawski in a 12-minute span of the second half to send the Demon Deacons to the quarterfinals for the first time in school history.
There, Wake Forest (17-3-3) will play host to 10th-seeded Santa Clara on Friday night at Spry Stadium. The Broncos (14-4-4), the 1989 co-national champion (with Virginia), upset seventh-seeded Indiana in a penalty-kick shootout Saturday in Bloomington.
"They're a team that can go pretty deep in the tournament," Olszewski said of the Demon Deacons.
But Towson - which had been picked to finish seventh in the Colonial Athletic Association this season, only to go 10-0-1 and win the regular-season title - also had a chance to move to the NCAA tournament quarterfinals, despite losing starting goalkeeper Greg Flaherty on a collision with Schilawski late in the first half.
Flaherty, who had 50 saves and 4.5 shutouts in nine games for the Tigers, injured his hand and came off the field after being run into by Schilawski as he slid to make a save with less than 10 minutes to go in the half.
Towson brought in junior Billy Chiles - who led the team with 57 saves and 6.5 shutouts in 12 games - and he helped the Tigers hold their opponent scoreless in the first half for the sixth straight game and 18th time this year.
Yesterday's game matched two of the top defensive teams in the NCAA tournament - through games of Nov. 12, Towson was eighth in the nation in goals-against average at 0.58 per game, and the Demon Deacons were 15th at 0.72. The game was extremely physical, with 40 fouls and four yellow cards issued.
One of those fouls set up the Tigers' only score. With less than 30 seconds left on the game clock, Wake Forest defender Wells Thompson was trying to clear a corner kick when he fouled Towson's Andrew Marshall in the penalty box.
That gave the Tigers a penalty kick, with Pat Healey faking out Demon Deacons goalkeeper Brian Edwards to plant his shot in the left corner of the net for his sixth goal of the season.
However, Towson couldn't capitalize on openings created by its defense. The Tigers did not get off a shot until early in the second half, and managed just four shots on goal and six shots overall.
By comparison, the Demon Deacons had 14 shots, including seven on goal.
"They were really attacking the flanks," Olszewski said of Wake Forest. "We had to make sure we had that shored up, and take advantage of the opportunities when they were there. We had some opportunities, but didn't take advantage."
Towson 0 1 - 1
Wake Forest 0 2 - 2
Goals: T-Healey; WF-Curfman, Schilawski. Assists: WF-Cronin, Thompson. Saves: T-Flaherty 4, Chiles; WF-Edwards 3. Yellow cards: T-Hurkamp, Marshall; WF-Schilawski, Thompson. Att: 2,118.