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Towson rallies from five-goal deficit to beat High Point, earn first NCAA tourney win since 2003

In a game of runs, the Towson men's lacrosse team had the one that mattered the most.

After falling behind 5-0 in the first quarter, the No. 18 Tigers embarked on an 8-0 spurt of their own to post a 10-8 victory over visiting High Point in an NCAA tournament play-in game before an announced 1,766 at Johnny Unitas Stadium in Towson Wednesday night.

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With the victory, Towson (12-5) won in the NCAA postseason for the first time since May 10, 2003 when that squad defeated Penn State, 11-6, in the first round. The Tigers will face No. 1 seed Notre Dame (10-2) in a first-round game scheduled for Saturday at 5 p.m.

Redshirt senior attackman Max Siskind paced Towson with three goals. Senior midfielder Justin Mabus added a goal and two assists, redshirt junior goalkeeper Tyler White made nine saves, and sophomore faceoff specialist Alec Burckley tied a career high with 15 wins on 22 draws and scooped up a career-best 12 ground balls.

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The contest began ominously for the Tigers, who found themselves trailing 5-0 just 11 minutes, 11 seconds into the first quarter. The Panthers, the Southern Conference tournament titlist, scored on their first three shots and finished the opening period with five goals on nine attempts. During that spurt, sophomore attackman Michael LeClair (Mount St. Joseph) and junior attackman Matt Thistle each registered a goal and an assist.

But Siskind said Towson –- which had to defeat Drexel and Massachusetts to capture the Colonial Athletic Association tournament to gain a spot in the NCAA tournament -– did not panic.

"This team has a lot of heart and throughout the season, we've had some bumps in the road," he said. "We just knew that if we could weather the storm, we could come back. Once we took that lead, we didn't look back."

Towson finally ended the drought with 2:30 left in the opening period. Sophomore attackman Joe Seider (Hereford) used a screen set by Siskind behind the High Point cage and curled around the right post unimpeded to beat Panthers redshirt senior goalie Austin Geisler.

The Tigers tacked on another goal 36 seconds later and scored four times in the second quarter.

Towson tied the score at 5-5 when sophomore midfielder Mike Lynch (Boys' Latin) unloaded a bomb from the right point with 10:05 left in the period. And Siskind gave the Tigers their first lead of the contest with 3:58 remaining when he collected a skip pass from sophomore midfielder Tyler Konen, stopped, spun toward the middle, and backhanded the ball into the top left corner.

Towson opened the third quarter with goals from Lynch with 4:47 left in the third quarter and senior defenseman JoJo Ostrander with 3:19 remaining to extend their run to 8-0. It was Ostrander's second goal of his career and first since a 9-1 victory against Mount St. Mary's on March 1, 2014.

High Point ended a drought of 31:32 when sophomore midfielder Sean Harrison (Marriotts Ridge) scored with 2:17 left in the period.

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Siskind scored twice in the fourth quarter to put the contest out of reach.

In addition to faceoffs, Towson dominated shots (37-28), ground balls (37-20) and time of possession (36:27 to 23:33). The Panthers scored five goals on their first seven possessions, but then went just 3-of-22 for the rest of the game.

"They gave us everything that they could and everything that we could possibly handle," Tigers coach Shawn Nadelen said. "They put us against the wall early and that's a huge testament to them. We had to do everything we could to dig deep and try to string some things together."

High Point coach Jon Torpey lamented the imbalance in time of possession.

"The ball seemed to roll in their direction today," he said. "I thought in the second quarter, they did a good job of just having the ball. If we had the ball that much, we could have won [time of] possession. When you're playing against a team that does that on offense, they can be dangerous."

Harrison scored three goals for the Panthers (10-7), junior attackman Dan Thistle chipped in two goals and one assist, and Geisler recorded a game-best 13 saves. But junior attackman Dan Lomas, who led the team with 43 goals and had scored six times on 12 shots in two previous meetings with Towson, was shut out on four shots by Ostrander.

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edward.lee@baltsun.com


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