On a day when No. 12 Towson honored its eight seniors prior to Saturday's eventual 18-11 rout of Colonial Athletic Association foe Fairfield at Johnny Unitas Stadium, that group accounted for five goals, three assists, 17 ground balls and five saves.
Perhaps the most surprising contribution came from redshirt senior goalkeeper Tyler White who was credited with a goal when he flung a Hail Mary-type shot just before the final horn sounded to end the game. Tigers coach Shawn Nadelen said the coaches watched the shot from start to finish.
"The biggest thing for us is, it was Tyler, and that's why we were fighting for that goal," he said afterward. "It was Tyler's last home game, and he's meant so much to our program. He heaved it, and it was nothing but net, and we wanted to make sure the refs understood that he got the shot off beforehand. I felt bad because we were kind of emphasizing that in front of the Fairfield guys as they were going to get their goalie. But obviously, it was something we wanted Tyler to have, to be able to go off the field in our last regular-season home game with a big feather in his cap. Obviously, the refs made the right call. That was just neat."
Junior midfielder Mike Lynch (Boys' Latin), who scored five goals and added one assist, said he was unaware that White had scored a goal of his own, becoming the first goalie in program history to record a point since Rob Wheeler finished with an assist against Bucknell on March 24, 2009.
"I turned around and saw the coaches running out with their hands up," he said. "I was like, 'Whoa, he scored.' It was pretty cool. It was definitely cool. You don't see that all of the time."
Stags coach Andy Copelan didn't sound too upset by Towson's lobbying of the officials, even injecting a little humor into the situation.
"You know what? I think it summarizes our day," he said, drawing laughs from several media members. "Glad for him, I guess. He got himself on the stat line and scored a goal. Certainly not how we wanted to end a game, no."
Circling back to "Three Things to Watch" …
1) Fairfield's clearing game. The Stags (7-7 overall and 3-1 in the CAA) had entered the game ranked 55th out of 68 teams in clearing percentage at 82.7 percent. They went 7-for-9 on Saturday, but that was more of a product of Towson (11-2, 3-1) turning offensive possessions into goals and not giving Fairfield a chance to move the ball from defense to offense.
"Fortunately, we scored on a lot of our possessions," Nadelen said. "I think that's an indication as well as both teams cleared the same way. Our clears are the same. So our guys are used to seeing that and are used to playing that way. As we continue to emphasize to them, they've got hustle and they've got to scrap to try to earn the ball back. We want to try to make it tough on them. That's a point of emphasis for us, and our guys did a good job of that."
2) Towson's Tyler White. White finished with just five saves, which tied his second-lowest total of the season. Fairfield seemed to have success going low on the 6-foot-3, 230-pound goalkeeper, but Nadelen said the defense in front of White could have played better, too.
"In the first half, he seemed a little bit slow as far as driving to the ball," Nadelen said. "There were a couple shots defensively that I thought we were better in front of him, being able to challenge shooters and get sticks on them. Tyler, I don't think he had his best start, but he definitely showed he could settle in. As the game went on, we didn't do a good job in the second half, challenging their shooters. They had a couple of easy looks either on the crease or mid-range."
3) Fairfield's offensive trio. Burke, a freshman attackman, entered the game leading the Stags in goals and points, and he appeared to join the likes of Loyola Maryland attackman Pat Spencer (Boys' Latin) and Rutgers attackman Adam Charalambides as some of the best freshmen in Division I. Burke scored a game-best seven points on five goals and two assists, including three goals in the third quarter, and Copelan praised Burke's play with fellow starting attackmen Nico Panepinto (three goals) and Charlie Horning (one goal and one assist).
"Our freshman Colin Burke had himself a day," Copelan said. "He really is an elite-level player. We're really fortunate to kind of have him in the locker room and the guys alongside of him, Nico Panepinto and Charlie Horning, played at a reasonably high level as well."