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Tigers eye payback in CAA tournament

The Baltimore Sun

Towson defender Julie Ondrako looks forward this weekend to playing one -- and maybe both -- of the teams the Tigers lost to during the Colonial Athletic Association regular season.

In the four-team CAA tournament at top-seeded William and Mary, the Tigers open tomorrow night with George Mason. If they get by the Patriots, they could face No. 1 seed William and Mary on Sunday.

The Tigers (11-5), who finished 5-2 in the CAA and earned the third seed, let a four-goal lead slip away and lost to No. 2 seed George Mason, 13-10. They went back and forth with William and Mary but fell, 14-13.

"Sometimes losing helps humble you, and you learn things from every loss," said Ondrako, whose team bounced back from each loss this season with a win in the next game.

"The two teams we lost to, and even [No. 4 seed] Delaware, have yet to see our best games this year. That's why we rebounded so well to play against James Madison [12-7 win] after we lost to George Mason. Now, we want every team to know how good we are."

Towson coach Missy Doherty said the teams are so evenly matched that any one of the four could come away with the title.

"The parity within the league is crazy," Doherty said. "Easily Hofstra and James Madison could have been in our tournament given one-game swings. I love competing in our conference because it's a mini-season within the season. When we're successful, it means even more."

Against No. 16 George Mason, the Tigers will need more patience than last time when they often rushed their offense late in the game.

"I think physically all the teams are pretty equal," Doherty said. "Mentally, we're going to have to stay focused. The team that does that is generally the team that ends up winning."

The Tigers will be trying to win their first CAA tournament since 2005. The title brings an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament, which concludes with the final four Memorial Day weekend at Towson's Johnny Unitas Stadium.

Blue Jays earn bye

For Johns Hopkins, Tuesday's 13-12 win over Ohio State was perhaps the most important of the season.

The victory earned the Blue Jays the No. 3 seed in the American Lacrosse Conference tournament that begins tomorrow at Northwestern. The top three teams have quarterfinal byes, something the Blue Jays needed.

"We're dealing with some injuries and illness and kind of running with not a lot of kids to be able to get in. We did not want to play Friday, Saturday and Sunday," Blue Jays coach Janine Tucker said.

Tuesday, Kirby Houck scored the game-winner with 8:27 to go and the Blue Jays clung to a one-goal lead for the final 7:35, thanks in part to three turnovers forced by the Hopkins defense.

But Houck wears a boot when she's not on the field after suffering a foot injury that Tucker hopes does not develop into a stress fracture.

Freshman Brianna Cronin, who had scored in every game, is out with an anterior cruciate ligament tear. Defender Lizzie Rupp has mononucleosis. Goalie Jess Buicko, the ALC Player of the Week for allowing just four goals in the final 52 minutes of a 10-8 win over Penn State, tore ligaments in her thumb.

Not playing back-to-back games gives the Jays needed rest heading into what should be a competitive tournament.

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