DENVER – It was a back-and-forth, seesaw slugfest Saturday afternoon as the Towson University men’s lacrosse team battled No. 5 University of Denver at Peter Barton Lacrosse Stadium.
The overtime thriller featured two ties in the fourth quarter as the Pioneers took a 10-8 lead with 4:19 to play. Towson rallied and tied game with 29.8 seconds to play but the Pioneers scored midway through the overtime period for the win.
Towson (3-5) had a strong showing off the bench as a trio of midfielders had career days. Jake McLean, Matt Sovero and Dylan Kinnear all scored career-high goals with a pair apiece. Sovero tied the game in the final minute of regulation to force overtime.
Denver (6-2) had a six-point day from Ethan Walker, who scored five goals along with one assist. Trevor Baptiste was a difference maker, winning 21 of 24 chances at the X.
How it Happened
The opening quarter was a defensive slugfest as neither team found the board. Shane Brennan made a pair of saves early and in tight on Denver’s top threat, Walker.
Towson’s defense flew around the entire first quarter as Zach Goodrich came up with two caused turnovers while Sid Ewell had one in the first 15 minutes.
McLean broke up the scoring at 10:21 of the second quarter as Jon Mazza moved the ball for one extra pass, finding the Californian on the left wing. McLean finished the chance, stinging it past Matte’s shoulder.
The Tigers doubled up the lead after Kinnear caught the Pioneer defense napping and came from behind the goal and beat Matte to the near pipe at 7:51 of the second.
After a holding penalty against Goodrich, Denver cashed in on the extra-man chance to cut the lead down to 2-1 as Colton Jackson scored on a Walker feed at 2:59 of the second.
Towson went up by two again as McLean drove through a pair of Pio defenders, taking a slash and beat Josh Matte through the five-hole for a 3-1 Tiger lead with one minute to play in the opening half.
The Tigers rounded out the first half with an extra-man goal with just eight seconds to play. Timmy Monahan hit Kinnear with a feed on the crease as the latter slapped home a one-timer for a 4-1 lead at the break.
Towson extended the lead at 12:33 of the third as Phil Wies dunked home a feed from Jean-Luc Chetner on the Pioneer doorstep, putting the Tigers up 5-1.
Walker scored back-to-back goals at 8:50 and 7:48 of the third quarter, cutting the Tiger lead down to 5-3. The first was setup on a pick play, while the second was on a feed from Colin Ruton.
The Pioneers cut the lead back to two, 6-4, as Walker finished the hat trick during an extra-man chance on a French feed. Just over a minute later, Jackson scored to cut the lead back to one with a shot on the run. That proved to be the final goal of the penultimate period.
Denver scored three goals in the first minute of the fourth quarter to take an 8-6 lead. Connor Donohue scored on an extra-man chance after a Towson faceoff violation before Trever Baptiste scored back-to-back goals off the draw.
Maloof snapped the run at 10:02 of the fourth quarter and cut the Pioneer lead back down to 9-7. The junior stung his shot as he dodged down the left side of the goal, speeding past his defender.
The Tigers pulled back within one at 5:52 of the fourth as Matt Sovero ripped home his first of the day past Matte. Giuffreda hit the cutting Sovero with a perfect pass to pull Towson within one, 9-8.
With two flags on the field, Walker scored again for his fifth of the afternoon and put the Pioneers back up 10-8 with four minutes to play and a 6-4 extra-man chance.
Towson killed off the two-man down situation, setting up a Koby Smith clearing chance that led to a Chetner goal, beating Matte to the far side, making it 10-9 with three minutes to play.
Sovero scored the biggest goal of his career with 30 seconds left to play after a Towson timeout. The Easton, Marylander took his defender up near midfield before blowing past him and scoring a shot on the run.
After a Towson faceoff violation, setting up another Denver extra-man chance, the officials waved off the would-be winner as the shot came after the buzzer, setting up Towson’s second-straight overtime game on the road.
Denver got the game-winning goal with 1:46 to play in the overtime frame as Rutan slipped goalside and scored top right.
Behind the Numbers
Brennan continued his strong play against strong opponents, turning in a 13-save performance. His counterpart made just six saves as Towson reeled off 30 total shots, more than half of which were on goal (16).
Faceoffs were key in the game as Denver got 21 wins from Baptiste on 24 chances. Alex Woodall won two of his 17 draws, collecting two ground balls along the way.
A second team All-America selection last season, Goodrich turned in a career-best four caused turnovers while adding five ground balls.
The Tigers were nearly perfect in the clearing game, going 19-of-20. The lone failed clear came in the second frame when Towson went six-for-seven.
Towson played poised all game, limiting turnovers to just eight. Denver turned the ball over 15 times, including 11 in the first half.
Saturday’s game was the second-straight overtime game on the road for the Tigers after knocking off #13 Ohio State two weeks ago.
Up Next For Towson
The Tigers kick off Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) action next weekend with a trip to Long Island.
Towson will open league play at Hofstra University on Saturday, March 31 with a 1 p.m. opening faceoff at Shuart Stadium.
That game will feautre the winningest teams in CAA history. Towson has won 59 CAA games since joining the conference in 2002 while Hofstra has claimed 57 league victories.