FAIRFIELD, Conn. – Meeting for the second time in just five days, the Towson men’s lacrosse team got revenge when it counted the most as the Tigers topped Drexel 11-8 in the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) Semifinals, advancing to Saturday afternoon’s Championship Game.
Towson takes on the fourth-seeded Massachusetts Minutemen on Saturday at 1 p.m. at Fairfield’s Rafferty Stadium. The game will be televised nationally on the American Sports Network. It will be the first time since 2011 the CAA Championship game will not feature the top-seeded team.
“Little worried about that (falling behind 2-0 early), there’s no doubt about that. Especially the offense, how we were just not in our ryhtym to start the game,” said Towson head coach Shawn Nadelen, who guides the Tigers to their second title game since he took over in 2012. “Our defense wasn’t as bad as it looked last week with but it was good to see the offense step back up and get those goals back for us. We expected it to be a battle and that’s what it was.”
Towson, now 10-5 overall, got a career day from sophomore Ryan Drenner, who finished with one goal and four assists, besting a mark he hit twice this season. Senior Justin Mabus also finished with a career-best four points on two goals and two assists. Joe Seider had a big game for the third-seeded Tigers, striking for two goals along with one helper. Max Siskind and Ben McCarty logged two goals apiece, while Tyler Konen and Pat Conroy had one goal each. Tyler Young added his first career point as the Tigers logged 19 points, a team-high for the season.
Drenner’s five points were the most by a Towson player in a CAA Tournament game since McCarty stung the Dragons for six goals in the 2013 CAA Semifinals, also an 11-8 Towson victory.
Despite four goals from Cole Shafer, Drexel had its season ended by the Tigers. Robert Frazee notched three points with two goals and one assist while Ryan Belka had one goal with two assists. Michael Kay tallied one goal and one assist while Jules Raucci had one helper. All 14 Dragon points came from its starting lineup.
The 2015 CAA Defensive Player of the Year, Towson’s Tyler White, finished with eight saves, including five in the second half, helping Towson improve to 9-1 on the year when leading after three quarters. The second-ranked scoring defense limited Drexel to just four goals over the final 41 minutes of the game. White’s counterpart, Jimmy Joe Granito, stopped nine Tiger shots, with four coming in the final 15 minutes.
For a second straight game against the Dragons, Alec Burckley had dominant day at the faceoff X, winning 12 of his 19 draws (.632 percent), collecting eight groundballs along the way, his most since grabbing nine at UMBC on March 7. Drexel’s Nick Saputo won eight of his 19 draws with four groundballs.
“Last Saturday was great for us, we couldn’t support him enough to get the win for him but today was another strong effort and we had talked in practice on expecting to see Saputo’s best. And Saputo battled, he’s be fantastic his whole career, but it was great to see Alec take control of that and make Saputo get on his heels a little bit and that helps us out possession-wise,” Nadelen said of his faceoff specialist.
As a team, Towson went a perfect 13-for-13 in the clearing game. The Tiger special teams units went one-for-six on the extra-man, while the CAA’s top-ranked man-down defense continued its strong play, not allowing a goal on three Dragon chances.
Drexel (7-8) jumped out to a 2-0 lead behind goals from Shafer and Kay. But for a 13th game this season, Towson reeled off a run of three or more goals, notching four straight from four different sources. McCarty, who now has 15 career goals against Drexel, got Towson on the board, followed by longstick midfielder Conroy on the ensuing faceoff. Siskind slipped around his defender and in front of the crease to give the Tigers a 3-2 advantage with 1.5 seconds left in the first quarter.
Seider scored his sixth extra-man goal to extend Towson’s lead to 4-2. The Dragons stormed back with three straight of their own, once from Belka and two from Shafer. The Tigers regained a 6-5 lead and never looked back as Konen finished a pass from Mabus followed by Seider’s second on a dish from Drenner. Towson improved to 8-1 overall this season when leading at halftime.
Drexel knotted the game at 6-6 midway through the period, but it was last second heroics again from the Tigers as Mabus scored with five seconds left in the third quarter for a 7-6 Towson advantage. The Tigers ripped off two consecutive markers to start the fourth period and take a three-goal, 9-6 lead behind strikes from Drenner and Siskind. Drexel won the next faceoff and charged down field as Frazee made it a two-goal game once again with faceoff specialist Saputo on the assist. Mabus put Towson in double digits for a fifth time this season and second game in a row with a 10-7 Tiger lead. Frazee scored once more for Drexel, but McCarty scored with 14 seconds on the clock to seal the victory for Towson.