For at least one game, senior midfielders Justin Mabus and Greg Cuccinello gave Towson flashbacks of 2014.
In the No. 18 Tigers' 9-8 win against Massachusetts in Saturday's title game of the Colonial Athletic Association tournament, Mabus recorded two goals and one assist, and Cuccinello added two goals. It was the first time the duo – who had combined for 30 goals and 26 assists last spring – had posted multiple-point outings in the same game this season.
"It's exciting, those guys stepping up in the CAA championship game and both of them being part of our tri-captain [rotation]," coach Shawn Nadelen said Monday morning. "It's exciting for Greg especially, being that he's been searching for the back of the net. His first one, he did with style, and his second one was clutch in the third quarter. Both of those goals were pretty big on Greg's part. And Justin has continued to play pretty consistently for us and take advantage of the opportunities he has. Those guys are senior middies who have played a lot of lacrosse for us, and we've got to have that continue to go our way."
The efforts were especially rewarding for Cuccinello, who had been mired in a 10-game goal-scoring drought. Between a goal in an 8-7 double overtime loss at Navy on March 3 and Saturday, Cuccinello had taken 27 shots, but failed to hit paydirt.
Nadelen said he could sense a weight lifted off Cuccinello after his first goal that gave Towson (11-5) a 5-2 advantage with 3:30 left in the second quarter.
"The entire team couldn't have been more excited for him," Nadelen said. "It took everybody's willpower not to run onto the field. We had to wait for him to come off and congratulate him. We were just so excited for Greg to be able to break it open with a two-goal performance in a one-goal game."
Nadelen said he's unsure if Cuccinello will stay on the second line with sophomores Mike Lynch (Boys' Latin) and Tyler Konen or bump up to the starting unit for Wednesday's NCAA tournament play-in game against High Point (10-6) on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. at Johnny Unitas Stadium. But Nadelen is hopeful that Saturday's showing could be the start of something for Cuccinello.
"You've got to think it gives him some confidence being that he's been playing with that in the back of his mind for a while," Nadelen said. "You've got to hope this allows him to relax a little bit and just get out there and play a little more freely in the way he's been accustomed to playing."