TOWSON, Md. – The nation’s fourth-ranked defense was on display again Saturday afternoon at Johnny Unitas ® Stadium as the No. 18 Towson smothered Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) foe Massachusetts 6-3 in the Tigers’ conference opener.
Towson, which improved to 7-3 overall and 1-0 in the league, got a season-high tying 14 saves from redshirt junior Tyler White. The defense in front of him held the Minutemen to just three goals, the fewest CAA goals allowed by Towson since beating Saint Joseph’s 15-2 in 2011.
“We’re excited to get our first win in the CAA,” said head coach Shawn Nadelen. “We knew it was going to be a battle. Historically, the Towson and UMass games are always physical and kind of low scoring. You just have to find a way to win. I am glad we’re the team that did that. I thought Tyler (White) played terrific in cage and as a team I thought we played with great energy, hustle, and made some really nice plays, at times in the middle of the field, just grinding it out on both ends of the field.”
Towson got four of its goals from the midfield as Mike Lynch potted a pair. Former attackman and current midfielder Spencer Parks had a three-point day with a goal and an assist while Justin Mabus finished with one goal through the middle. Attackmen Joe Seider and Max Siskind had one goal each, with Seider’s coming after the shot clock was on. Ryan Drenner notched one assist, as did midfielder Ben McCarty, helping the Tigers improve to 13-1 in CAA home openers.
UMass, which was ranked second in the CAA with an 11.00 goals per game average, got just two from Grant Whiteway and one from Nick Mariano, the team’s leading scorer. All three UMass goals were assisted from three different players, Brendan Hegarty, Peter Lindley and Brendan Schroeder.
The Minutemen (3-6, 1-1 CAA) got nine saves from keeper Zach Oliveri, who saw an efficient shooting effort from the Tigers. Towson put 15 of its 25 shots on goal, with another three chances going off the pipes.
Faceoffs were nearly even as UMass’s Noah Rak won six of his 11 draws and Charlie Schatz took a pair, winning one. Towson’s Alec Burkley won six of the 13 faceoffs he took, grabbing a team-high five groundballs in the process.
Uncharacteristic of Towson, which ranked second in the CAA in penalties per game (3.00), the Tigers were called for four, serving three and a half minutes. The man-down unit held UMass to just one goal on three extra-man chances. Towson did not score on either of its man-up opportunities.
True to form this season for a team ranked first in the country in turnovers per game (11.00), Towson turned the ball over just 11 times while the Minutemen had 13, thanks to five forces from the Tiger defense. Tyler Mayes caused a pair of turnovers while close defensive starters Mike Lowe and JoJo Ostrander dislodged one apiece. McCarty was credited with one as well.
Towson failed to clear the ball just once, gaining the zone on 14 of its 15 tries. The Tiger riding unit held UMass to just 12 successful clears in 16 chances.
The Tigers jumped out to a 3-0 with two goals in the first quarter from Mabus and Parks and a third near the midway point of the second from Lynch. UMass got on the board with 5:09 to go in the first half, ending a 33-minute scoreless drought for Towson opponents at home. The Tigers scored once more in the half for a 4-1 lead at the break.
Towson again struck first out of the locker room as Lynch gave the Tigers a 5-1 advantage on his third of the season. The Minutemen hit back-to-back goals with 4:52 left in the third and 10:53 to go in the fourth, making it a 5-3 game but Seider’s 21st of the season, which extended his goal streak to 12 games, sealed the victory for Towson.
The Tigers hit the road next weekend for their next CAA game as they take on Delaware. Opening faceoff is set for 7 p.m. at the Blue Hens’ Delaware Stadium.