Scoring goals has not been particularly easy for the Towson men's lacrosse team.
But the No. 12 Tigers looked prolific and at ease Saturday afternoon as they exploded for their largest production in 12 years in an 18-11 thumping of Colonial Athletic Association rival Fairfield before an announced 1,105 at Johnny Unitas Stadium in Towson.
Junior midfielder Mike Lynch had team highs in both goals (five) and points (six) as Towson posted its biggest output since a 20-11 shellacking of Villanova on April 3, 2004.
Senior attackman Spencer Parks added three goals and two assists, and junior attackman Ryan Drenner (Westminster) scored three times. The offense took 41 shots, converting a season-high 43.9 percent of those attempts and giving the players a glimpse of their potential.
"I think it's close," said Parks, a Fallston resident and St. Paul's graduate. "We're definitely not satisfied with any performance. But I think today was a step in the right direction. I think today was more of what we're capable of when we share the ball and do the right things and get the shots on-net that we could."
Lynch had a hand in the Tigers' display. The Forest Hill resident and Boys' Latin graduate had a hat trick by the time the second quarter was 1 minute, 34 seconds old and scored two more times to obliterate his previous career best of two goals.
"I like to credit my teammates," said Lynch, who logged his lone assist in the fourth quarter. "People like Spencer and Drenner are dodging and drawing two. I'm just sitting there ready to shoot. And I try to get it on net and hopefully, it goes in. Today, it did."
Towson improved to 11-2 overall and 3-1 in the CAA. If the Tigers defeat Hofstra on April 30, they will earn the top seed and home-field advantage in the league tournament, which opens May 5.
The result was especially gratifying after last Saturday's 10-7 upset loss to Delaware, which gave Fairfield a chance to take a decisive step toward clinching the top seed and home-field advantage in the CAA tournament.
"I would say we definitely had a bad taste in our mouth after Saturday," Parks acknowledged. "All the guys on Sunday, we were talking about how eager we were to get back to work on Monday. I think over the course of the week, we had a good, tough week of practice. I think we played today how we should be playing."
Fairfield opened the scoring just 49 seconds in when freshman attackman Colin Burke found junior attackman Nico Panepinto on the crease. The Tigers knotted the score when Parks skipped the ball to Lynch for a blast from the right wing with 12:37 remaining, but the Stags regained the lead when Burke curled around the right post and fired a turnaround shot with 10:38 left in the first quarter.
But Fairfield did not score another goal until there were seven seconds remaining in the second period. Towson took advantage with nine consecutive goals. During that run, Lynch scored four times and Parks chipped in two goals and one assist.
Trailing 10-3 at halftime, the Stags got a pair of goals from Burke in the first 2:25 of the third quarter, but the Tigers embarked on a 5-1 spurt to increase their advantage to 15-6 with 12:14 remaining.
Fairfield kept Towson on its toes with four straight goals over a 2:40 span, but the Tigers scored three of the game's last four goals — including a Hail Mary-type attempt from redshirt senior goalkeeper Tyler White just before the final buzzer sounded — to close out the contest.
Towson took just 15 shots in the second half as the Stags dominated possession thanks to a 14-for-17 effort on faceoffs, but the offense scored eight times.
"That was a necessity," coach Shawn Nadelen said. "We needed to answer their run and be able to stop the bleeding at times. We need to come out in that second half and put the pedal down and stay aggressive, and we did that. Unfortunately, we didn't have the ball a lot. So being able to be more efficient in that second half because we didn't have the ball a lot was huge."
Burke paced Fairfield (7-7, 3-1) with a game-high seven points on five goals and two assists, and Panepinto contributed three goals. But coach Andy Copelan said the Tigers' start was too much to overcome.
"They jumped all over us," he said. "They kind of punched us right in the teeth. I give my guys credit. We were resilient. We certainly didn't have any quit in us. But that's a good Towson ball club, and they played a really good game today. The hope is that we have the opportunity to maybe see those guys again, but we certainly need to fix us here in the short term."
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