In a game of inches, the Towson men's lacrosse team got off on the wrong foot.
With the score tied against No. 2 Virginia at halftime yesterday, the Tigers missed two opportunities to take their first lead of the game.
Junior faceoff specialist Mitchell Rosensweig's bouncer just seconds into the third quarter caromed off the right post. On the same possession, freshman attackman Tim Stratton's shot from 8 yards out clanged off the crossbar.
Instead, it was the Cavaliers who scored the first five goals of the third quarter and eventually warded off the No. 15 Tigers' upset bid in an 18-13 victory before an announced 1,851 at Johnny Unitas Stadium.
"We could've had a goal, and that could've changed the whole game," said sophomore midfielder Eric Boyle, who led the Tigers (1-3) with five points on two goals and three assists.
That Towson, which has dropped the past eight meetings with Virginia (8-0), kept pace with a Cavaliers team that entered the game with the No. 2 scoring offense in the country was of little consolation. The Tigers' output was a season high, but that elicited only a wry smile from coach Tony Seaman.
"That's kind of the story of our season so far," he said. "A lot of good breaks, but we just can't get it rolling when we really need it. ... And they stuck them. They stuck them all afternoon. That was the difference."
The difference was the beginning of the third quarter. After Rosensweig's and Stratton's missed chances, Virginia broke the tie on a goal from junior attackman Gavin Gill (St. Paul's) with 13:26 left in the period.
Four minutes, 14 seconds later, Gill found senior attackman Ben Rubeor (Loyola) alone in front to cap a 5-0 run to give the Cavaliers a 12-7 advantage.
Rubeor said Virginia's offense solved Towson senior goalkeeper Billy Sadtler, who stopped nine shots in the first half but was replaced by senior Matt Antol after the fourth goal of the Cavaliers' five-goal flurry.
"There are ways to shoot - you can dip your front shoulder, for example - to make the goalie think that you're going down, and I think those goalies were anticipating a little bit that we were going to shoot low," said Rubeor, who finished with a hat trick and two assists. "We hit a few shots high, which really helped us."
Towson refused to give in, however, scoring six of the next nine goals to trim the deficit to two on Boyle's second goal with 7:41 left in the fourth quarter.
On the Tigers' next possession, senior midfielder Adam Hagelin fired a shot that hit the left post and went to a Virginia defender. Seconds later, freshman midfielder Shamel Bratton scored, essentially putting the game out of reach.
"When we got it to 15-11, we could've packed it up and gone home, but we came back to 15-13," Seaman said. "We just never could get a stop on our defensive end of the field when it was shot."
Virginia 5 2 7 4 - 18
Towson 5 2 2 4 - 13
Goals: V-Rubeor 3, Billings 2, Carroll 2, Gill 2, Barrow, Bratton, Garrison, Giannone, Glading, Ince, Pomper, Riley, Thompson; T-Engelke 3, McCutcheon 3, Boyle 2, Hagelin 2, Cooper, Stratton, Vetter. Assists: V-Billings 4, Gill 3, Bratton 2, Rubeor 2, Carroll, Thompson; T-Boyle 3, Best, Cooper, Engelke, Latoninck, Stratton. Saves: V-Ghitelman 14; T-Sadtler 11, Antol 2.