For the second consecutive game, the Towson men’s lacrosse team found itself staring at a multiple-goal deficit after one quarter. Unlike that loss to No. 15 Massachusetts on April 13, however, the No. 14 Tigers battled back and scored 11 goals over the next 30 minutes to outlast No. 20 Delaware, 14-12, before an announced 1,113 at Delaware Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Towson not only improved to 8-4 overall and 3-1 in the Colonial Athletic Association, but also tagged the Blue Hens with their first conference loss. Delaware (10-3, 3-1) is now tied with the Tigers for first place in the league, but has ceded the all-important head-to-head tiebreaker to Towson.
The Tigers are in the hunt for the CAA regular-season championship and the right to host the conference tournament because they found their rhythm in the second quarter. Trailing 5-2 after the opening quarter, the offense scored four goals in a span of 61 seconds. After the Blue Hens scored twice to re-assume a 7-6 lead, Towson closed the first half with a pair of goals for an 8-7 lead.
“We just knew that we had to get back into the game,” said senior midfielder Grant Maloof, who led all scorers with a game-high six points on a career-best five goals and one assist. “We had to create our own spark. The offense started getting hot. We had an extra-man opportunity that we cashed in on, and that really jump-started our whole offense for the rest of the half and throughout the third and fourth quarters.”
Three of the Tigers’ scores in the four-goal run to begin the second quarter were delivered by a man-up unit that converted all four opportunities. With senior midfielder Thomas Aloe serving a full one-minute penalty for cross-checking with 13:42 remaining and then freshman defenseman Kevin McCormick flagged for a 30-second delay of game penalty for rolling the ball away, Maloof, senior attackman Brendan Sunday and junior attackman Brody McLean scored before Aloe could return to the field.
“We were moving the ball, and they had a tough time rotating and finding our guys,” said Sunday, who had five points on four goals and one assist. “Brody got inside a couple times, Grant had a couple step-downs. They just seemed like they were a little slower to go than normal. So we were just running our sets to the best of our ability.”
For coach Shawn Nadelen, Towson’s response to the first-quarter hole was a comforting departure from the 14-10 setback to the Minutemen, who turned a 5-1 advantage into a 10-2 rout by halftime.
“We needed to settle down,” he said. “I felt like we were maybe a little too emotional or not as focused as we needed to be. We just needed to get some rhythm, get some momentum. I thought that was kind of the bigger piece coming out of that first quarter, that we just needed to settle down.”
After the Tigers went on a 7-0 spurt over an 11:58 stretch spanning the second and third periods, Delaware mounted a comeback with four unanswered goals to close to 13-11 with 8:07 left. But junior goalkeeper Tyler Canto (10 saves) turned back point-blank chances by freshman attackman Jake Govett and junior attackman Bryce Reid, and senior midfielder Timmy Monahan added an insurance goal with 5:57 remaining.
“I get super excited when I make those saves because nine out of 10 times, I know that they’re going to go the other way and they’re going to get that goal,” Canto said. “So just to bring that energy back to us, it’s just a great feeling.”
Towson also got a significant lift from junior faceoff specialist Jack McNallen, who replaced senior Alex Woodall after he won the first five draws but left with what appeared to be a bloodied lip. McNallen went 14-of-23 with a game-high nine ground balls, including a 9-of-10 stretch in the second and third quarters.
Blue Hens coach Ben DeLuca, who employed four different players on draws, sounded envious of the Tigers’ ability to call up another prolific faceoff specialist.
“The fact that they were able to call up another guy who was so effective speaks to their depth,” he said. “We did as much as we could to make some adjustments, but they weren’t enough.”
Towson; 2; 6; 5; 1; —; 14
Delaware; 5; 2; 2; 3; —; 12
Goals: T—Maloof 5, Sunday 4, B.McLean 2, Monahan 2, Fromert; D—DiSimone 4, Eisele 4, Finigan, Govett, Jackson, Kitchen, Miller. Assists: T—Monahan 2, Fromert, Maloof, B.McLean, J.McLean, Sunday; D—Finigan, Kitchen, Kurtz, Reid. Saves: T—Canto 10; D—DeLuca 8.