With about two minutes left in the third quarter, Towson’s best defenseman, Koby Smith, had good position on attackman Charlie Kitchen outside the crease, and Kitchen took a slow shot that somehow went through the legs of Tigers goalie Brennan Shane.
It was that type of day for Towson.
Delaware’s offense was relentless and combined with a strong effort from goalie Matt Kilkeary, No. 13 Delaware easily routed Towson, 16-8, at John Unitas Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Towson had won three straight with wins against No. 17 Hofstra, Massachusetts and Fairfield, and there was speculation that an upset of the Blue Hens might propel the Tigers (6-7, 3-4 Colonial Athletic Association) into a Top 20 national ranking, but that discussion will have to wait.
Delaware took Towson apart in every way imaginable, building a 16-6 lead with five minutes and six seconds left. The Blue Hens outscored the Tigers 6-2 in the third quarter to build a commanding lead.
“We didn’t talk to them about that,” said Towson coach Shawn Nadelen of any postseason aspirations. “I was unaware of any talk like that. Winning three games in eight days was to get ourselves out of the cellar. We just focused on ourselves, there wasn’t any discussion from coaches or the players’ standpoint about any of that.
“It’s tough to win a game when you’re not ready to play, not ready to do what it takes to make the little plays like ground balls or good plays on offense and defense, especially against a good team like Delaware,” Nadelen said. “They were a team that was ready to play and took advantage of our inability to play at a high level. They earned the outcome they got, and we didn’t bring our best to the field and that’s on me.”
Delaware was led by freshman midfielder Cam Acchione who finished with five goals and teammate and sophomore attackman Mike Robinson had three goals. Towson got two goals each from junior attackman/midfielder James Avanzato and midfielder Brody McLean.
The Blue Hens (9-2, 6-1 CAA), won 16 of 24 faceoffs and had a 38-24 advantage in ground balls. Towson outshot Delaware, 35-32, but some of those were poor selections and Kilkeary finished with 13 saves.
The Tigers weren’t going to go on any scoring binge.
“We were flat across the board,” Nadelen said. “Offensively, we didn’t have great flow like we normally do compared to other times. Defensively, we allowed them some easy opportunities not being great in our recovery and checking back up after sliding. We weren’t good pushing out on guys who were great shooters on the perimeter.”
Delaware led, 6-2, at the half and the Blue Hens outplayed Towson even though the Tigers outshot Delaware, 11-7, in the second quarter. Acchione scored from the right of the goal to put Delaware ahead, 5-2, with 13:43 left in the second period.
Nearly three minutes later, Delaware sophomore midfielder Nick Jessen scored on a runner from straight near the top of the restraining line to put the Blue Hens ahead, 6-2.
The Tigers played just as poorly in the first quarter, committing five turnovers. Acchione and junior attackman Tye Kurtz scored in the first three minutes as Delaware took a 2-0 lead. The Tigers pulled within 2-1 on a long-range goal from midfielder Ryan Swain with 11:09 left in the quarter but the Blue Hens scored the next two, the second one from Acchione with 1:47 remaining.
The Tigers got a break when an intended pass from Avanzato trickled past Kilkeary for a goal to cut Delaware’s lead to 4-2 with about two seconds left in the first period. But even that quarter, when Towson committed five turnovers, was a sign of things to come.
“This was just something that happened today,” Nadelen said. “We’ve had games where we have come out flying. The first time around [Delaware won 13-12 in overtime], I think we scored seven goals in the first quarter. Delaware two poled our midfielder and we didn’t do a go job of sharing the ball cleanly enough to generate better opportunities. When we did, we hit a few poles and their goalie had a pretty decent day in the cage.”