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No. 16 Towson women’s lacrosse humbled in 20-8 thumping by No. 12 Drexel

The difference in rankings in the latest Inside Lacrosse women’s poll might be slight, but the gap between No. 12 Drexel and No. 16 Towson seems much wider.

The Tigers fell behind by eight goals in the first half and did not have enough octane in the tank to keep pace with the Dragons, who raced to a 20-8 trouncing Tuesday night before an announced 125 at Tiger Field.

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The setback was the program’s most lopsided since March 11, 2015, when that squad was walloped 17-2 by Maryland. Towson (9-2 overall and 0-1 in the North Division of the Colonial Athletic Association) surrendered 20 goals for the first time since May 13, 2018, when Northwestern won, 21-17, in the second round of the NCAA tournament.

Despite the significant margin, coach Sonia LaMonica warned against reading too much into the final score.

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“I think at the end of the day, we were not looking like our Towson team for a majority of that first half, and that’s tough,” she said. “We’ve got to do a better job of stepping out onto the field and bringing our best, particularly at this time of the year. You can look at scores, and we got our butts kicked tonight. But it’s nothing we can’t fix or change. So we’ll bounce back from it.”

The Tigers entered the game on a four-game winning streak with the conference’s third-leading offense at 13.8 goals per game, but had few answers for Drexel’s swarming defense.

They scored only two goals in the first half. They slumbered through scoreless stretches of 20:24 in the first half and 9:55 in the second half. They missed on all 10 free-position shots they took, and Dragons senior goalkeeper Zoe Bennett (Severn) made a game-high 11 saves.

LaMonica pointed out that sophomore midfielder Blair Pearre, who entered the game leading Towson in free-position goals (19) and shots (30), took only one, missing it. Freshman midfielder Lindsey Marshall, who was tied for second in attempts (14) and ranked third in goals (five), did not get a single free-position opportunity.

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“I think we needed to run in on our eight-meters versus taking power shots from the line because Drexel’s goalie was doing a great job of seeing some of those outside shots,” LaMonica said. “I think we could have done a better job of using our speed to break in on our eight-meters and finish those.”

The futility filtered down to Towson’s stars. Pearre, the Pikesville resident and McDonogh graduate who led the offense in goals (36) and points (39), finished with zero goals on just two shots, four draw controls and one ground ball against Drexel junior midfielder Hayleigh Simpson (Marriotts Ridge). Graduate student attacker Nikki Sliwak, who led the team in assists (10) and ranked second in points (31), was shut out in the first half before earning a goal and an assist in the final 30 minutes.

LaMonica credited the Dragons’ decision to employ a zone defense with disrupting the Tigers’ usual flow.

“Collectively, when you see a zone defense which we saw in the first half, that changes the way an offense plays,” she said. “It requires an offense to play way more balanced. You need your whole unit to get great scoring looks. It kind of takes away individual play and relies on great team offense – moving the ball, finding open looks, and moving into those pockets of space. It’s a good tactic against a team that might have one or two prolific scorers and forces them to play together as a collective group.”

Meanwhile, Drexel (10-1, 2-0) enjoyed copious amounts of success against Towson’s defense, which had ranked seventh in the country at 8.6 goals allowed per game. The Dragons embarked on an 8-0 over a 16:18 stretch of the first half to turn a 1-0 deficit into a seven-goal advantage.

And even when the Tigers opened the second half with five consecutive goals — including the first hat trick of the season for graduate student attacker Abbe Mona (St. Mary’s) — in a 4:25 span, Drexel replied with its own 6-0 in an 8:18 span and then induced a running clock on Towson for the first time this season with four more goals in the final 10:28.

Senior midfielder Karson Harris scored a game-high seven goals for the Dragons, senior attacker Colleen Grady chipped in five goals and sophomore midfielder Corinne Bednarik added three goals and two assists.

“I think connected to not coming up with draws and Drexel winning draws and going to [our] defense, that momentum swing really stressed our defense,” LaMonica said. “The style they were playing with was stressing us on our 1-v-1s. We just kind of struggled to close those gaps in moments, and they were great finishers when they got inside.”

Freshman goalie Lindsay Posner (Hereford) made her third consecutive start, but registered only two saves while giving up eight goals in 22:01 before getting pulled for sophomore Carly Merlo. Merlo made nine stops while allowing 12 goals in 37:59.

“We do have two great goalies,” LaMonica said of her reasoning for starting Posner. “Lindsay has seen shots at practice this week. That’s what it boils down to.”

Despite falling 1 ½ games behind the Dragons in the North Division, the Tigers – who travel to James Madison (5-4 and 0-1 in the South Division) on Sunday – remain defiant.

“It doesn’t define us,” LaMonica said. “We’ll bounce back from this. We’re going to take this one on the chin tonight, and we’ve got to be strong and move forward. We can learn some things from this game, understanding that we’ve got to find a way to stop the bleeding and not put ourselves in a hole so early in the game because as we saw, it can be very difficult to dig yourself out of against a great team. But the message to the team is, we’ll bounce back from this. We’ve got a great team, and this is a great learning game for us and a great opportunity to show our resilience as we look to play another CAA team this coming Sunday.”

NO. 16 TOWSON@JAMES MADISON

Sunday, 2 p.m.

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