The Towson men's lacrosse team was fully aware that Mount St. Mary's had already surprised one Colonial Athletic Association member in Delaware. The Tigers ensured they weren't the second CAA squad to fall to the Mountaineers.
No. 17 Towson used three goals and one assist from junior attackman Ryan Drenner and two goals each from junior midfielder Mike Lynch and redshirt freshman attackman Ian Kirby to gain a 9-5 victory over visiting Mount St. Mary's before an announced 1,095 at Johnny Unitas Stadium in Towson on Saturday afternoon.
With the win, the Tigers improved to 2-0 for the first time since 2007 against an opponent that had rallied from a 9-6 deficit to defeat Delaware, 14-11.
"We knew Mount was going to come in here with a lot of excitement, a lot of energy," coach Shawn Nadelen said. "They got a great win against Delaware. We were the second CAA team for them to face this year. I'm sure they came in focused and dialed in and ready for us. I knew our guys were prepared and focused."
Towson also avoided joining the fate of other ranked teams that found themselves on the wrong end of upsets. No. 6 Johns Hopkins was edged, 9-8, by No. 8 Loyola Maryland, No. 7 North Carolina was upended, 10-5, by Hofstra, and No. 11 Ohio State was shocked, 16-9, by Massachusetts.
"I think it's just important for us to come out and play our best every week," said redshirt senior goalkeeper Tyler White, who made eight saves in the win. "We don't really look at what other people are doing. We worry about ourselves on the field. So as long as we put our best foot forward every single day in practice and every single day come game day, we feel like we can play with anyone in the country."
The Tigers dominated the pace of the contest, collecting 28 ground balls to the Mountaineers' 21 and outshooting them 42-30. But the offense mustered just nine goals because sophomore goalie Matt Vierheller made a game-high 15 saves, including several of the point-blank variety.
"We definitely need to get our shooting percentage up," Drenner, a Westminster resident and graduate, said of a unit that is shooting 25.0 percent (20-of-80) thus far. "But I do think their goalie played a really big part in keeping our shooting percentage down. Played really well. Other than that, I think it's just on us. We just have to put the ball in the net."
Towson, which has won the last 10 meetings in this series to own an 11-1 record, never trailed in the game, getting an opening goal from Lynch (Boys' Latin) off a pass from senior attackman Spencer Parks (St. Paul's) with 8 minutes, 22 seconds left in the first quarter.
After Mount St. Mary's freshman midfielder Chris DiPretoro converted a feed from fifth-year senior attackman Mark Hojnoski with 4:23 left to close out the scoring in the first period, the Tigers rattled off four consecutive goals over a 10:36 span in the second frame. Drenner scored twice during the run with additional tallies from Kirby and junior attackman Joe Seider (Hereford).
The Mountaineers cut the four-goal deficit in half courtesy of an illegal stick penalty on senior midfielder Ben McCarty (South Carroll) after he had assisted on Drenner's second goal with 2:56 left in the second quarter. Hojnoski scored with 1:43 and 10 seconds left as Towson entered halftime with a 5-3 lead.
But Mount St. Mary's never got closer than two in the second half as the Tigers regained their three-goal lead, answered every Mountaineers attempted rally with a goal of their own, and closed out the contest with two straight tallies.
Fifth-year senior attackman Mark Hojnoski paced Mount St. Mary's with three goals and one assist, and junior midfielder Ryan Lamon (Severn) added one goal and one assist. But coach Tom Gravante said the team's lethargic start proved to be too much to overcome.
"I was looking for them to get out of the starting gates a little bit sooner," he said. "But Towson's a very good team. … You can't spot a good team goals and expect to win the game. We have some issues we'll address in practice tomorrow."