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Postscript from High Point vs. Towson men's lacrosse

Since Towson began play in the Colonial Athletic Association, Alec Burckley has won 60.1 percent (86-of-143) of his faceoffs and scooped up 51 ground balls. But the sophomore doesn't have much of an explanation for his recent surge.

"Nothing's really changed," he said after the No. 18 Tigers' 10-8 victory over High Point in a NCAA tournament play-in game at Johnny Unitas Stadium in Towson Wednesday night. "I feel like I'm timing the whistle a little bit better. Just working hard in practice. Our wings are doing a tremendous job, giving me space and picking up the ball. As a unit, I just feel that we've come together at this part of the season."

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Burckley was especially critical in helping the Tigers (12-5) advance to a first-round contest at top-seeded Notre Dame (10-2). He tied a career high with 15 faceoff wins in 22 attempts and grabbed a career-best 15 ground balls. He won 9-of-13 draws in the first half to help the team rally from a 5-0 hole and take a 6-5 lead into halftime.

"We didn't get off the start we really wanted to," said Burckley, who has won 55.2 percent (148-of-268) of his faceoffs and picked up 77 ground balls. "So I knew faceoffs were going to be a crucial part to get us back into the game. Just love that I battled back, and our wings did a great job today. We were able to come up with a majority of them."

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Coach Shawn Nadelen credited Burckley's improvement to matchups in the CAA against opponents like Hofstra sophomore Kris Clarke, Drexel senior Nick Saputo and Fairfield freshman Will Fox.

"He had to go through some battles," Nadelen said. "He learned about himself, he learned about what it means to compete in practice. We've got guys out there that challenge him. Knowing that he's the No. 1 guy, they put their best man on him. He's understood to put a little bit more into practice, which I think has given him that confidence in games. He's really been dialed in the past few weeks, which has been a huge reason why we've been successful."

Circling back to "Three Things to Watch"

1) Limiting Lomas. Sophomore midfielder Andrew Harrison (Marriotts Ridge) led High Point (10-7) with three goals, and junior attackman Matt Thistle chipped in two more. But the Tigers made sure that junior attackman Dan Lomas did not hurt them even further. Lomas, who entered the game leading the Panthers in goals with 43 and had scored six times on 12 shots in two meetings with Towson, was shut out by senior defenseman JoJo Ostrander, who demonstrated why he was an All-CAA first-team selection last month.

"He's a terrific player, and he's burned us," Nadelen said. "We played High Point in 2013 and 2014, and he was terrific in those games. We prepared for him this time. We wanted to make his day as difficult as possible. JoJo did a terrific job, but when we would get switched up, our plan was to make sure we knew where he was at all times and limit his ability to get his hands free. I thought as a whole defensively, we did a really good job."

2) Gunning for Geisler. High Point's Austin Geisler outpointed Tyler White in the saves department, 12-9, but the redshirt senior also surrendered more goals than White did. The Tigers converted just 27.0 percent of their shots against Geisler, but seven of their 10 goals were from point-blank range. The Panthers tried to extend on defense and force Towson to play at a faster pace and commit more turnovers, but the offense dominated time of possession.

"I think they really got us on the long possessions," Geisler said. "I think there were little breakdowns in the defense. I think their execution and ability to find our weaknesses really worked out for them."

3) Trimming turnovers. The Tigers, who led Division I in fewest giveaways per game at 10.1, coughed up the ball 14 times against High Point. It's the most turnovers since the team surrendered the ball 18 times in an 8-7 triple overtime loss at Navy on March 3. But those troubles were mitigated by Towson claiming 37 ground balls to the Panthers' 20. Those ground balls were particularly crucial during the Tigers'comeback.

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"Whenever you have to erase a deficit, you need to create possessions for yourself," Nadelen said. "I think our guys just got hungry and got determined for that. That wasn't the Towson team that we're used to seeing in the first quarter, and that was something that I communicated to them. A credit to the team for stepping up and realizing what needed to be done."


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