Towson men's lacrosse coach Shawn Nadelen sees plenty of areas for improvement after his team's Colonial Athletic Association semifinal victory on Thursday.
Poise isn't one of them.
After roaring to an early three-goal lead, the top-seeded Tigers shook off sloppy stretches to quash every attempted Drexel rally in a 10-6 win at Unitas Stadium.
"I didn't think our team really got rattled from that," said Nadelen, whose team will attempt to win a second consecutive league title on Saturday. "I don't think we really got too complacent. We just got a little sloppy."
Joe Seider scored his 29th and 30th goals of the season on a day eight of his teammates scored a goal. Newly minted CAA Co-Player of the Year Ryan Drenner had a goal and the Tigers' only two assists.
Defender Nick Gorman scored for the first time in his career on a bizarre goal from deep in his own end as the first-quarter horn sounded, making it 5-2.
The fourth-seeded Dragons would only get within two goals once after that, as Towson secured a meeting with Fairfield in the championship game Saturday at 1 p.m.
Despite their No. 11 ranking and early-season victories over ranked opponents Georgetown and Loyola Maryland, the Tigers (13-2) likely need to win that game to qualify for the NCAA tournament.
"We've had a good season so far, but that doesn't mean anything for us right now," Drenner said. "We're just going to play like this is our last game."
Said Nedelen: "We're not looking at if it gets us in or not. We want to come out on our home field, be able to earn a CAA championship. … We know that we've got to play a really good game for that."
Jacob O'Donnell scored twice to lead Drexel (6-9). Towson's Tyler White and Drexel's Jimmy Joe Granito each made nine saves.
Down by four at halftime, Drexel closed to within 7-5 in the third when Cole Shafer and O'Donnell scored in a span of 64 seconds.
Towson's Ben McCarty answered about 50 seconds later, and the Tigers still led 8-5 at the end of the third after Drexel's O'Donnel, Shafer and Joseph Rainoldi all struck the post. Drenner scored 51 seconds into the fourth to push the lead back to four.
Towson escaped despite four turnovers and three face-off violations in the third.
"I think we were calm the whole game," said junior long-stick midfielder Tyler Mayes. "Yeah, in the third quarter, we dropped off a little bit in our play, but we were calm the whole time and knew what to do. We didn't feel pressure at all."
Fueled by Alec Burckley's early faceoff work, Mike Lynch, Ian Kirby and Jon Mazza scored in the opening 5:20 to give Towson a 3-0 lead and force Drexel coach Brian Voelker to call his first timeout. Drenner assisted two of those.
"He was the key role in that early run by us," Drenner said of Burckley, who finished 13 of 19 on the draw. "Just having the ball is a good thing for us."
Drexel closed within one before Zach Goodrich answered with 1:23 left in the quarter. Then came Gorman's remarkable goal on what appeared to be a clearance launched just before the horn from 75 yards away.
As the ball arced downward and skidded off the turf and over the crossbar, Granito reached out his stick, misplaying it into his own body and over the line.
"It was huge goal," Nadelen said. "There's no doubt about that. That was a huge goal in this game for us, and obviously a neat one to have."
Because Gorman released his shot before the horn, the goal stood, per an NCAA rule change enacted before the season.
"It's fun," Nadelen said of the change. "But it's also nerve-wracking at the same time."