AMHERST, Mass. – It was a back-and-forth game all afternoon at Garber Field, but a fourth-straight Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) Championship was not in the cards for the Towson University men’s lacrosse program.
The Tigers fell in a rematch of last season’s title game to top-seeded University of Massachusetts 12-8 Saturday afternoon.
Despite the loss, Towson added three players to the All-Tournament Team: faceoff specialist Alex Woodall, midfielder Jean-Luc Chetner and midfielder Grant Maloof.
Chetner led the day for Towson (7-8) with four points, including three assists. Maloof tagged the Minutemen for a pair of goals, as did Johnny Giuffreda. A much-improved Woodall won 14 of the game’s 23 draws after suffering a 4-for-16 outing in the regular season against UMass.
The Minutemen (12-4) saw rookie Chris Connolly set a CAA Championship freshman record with six points on three goals and three assists. Tournament Most Outstanding Player Sean Sconone finished with 16 saves, including nine in the second half.
How it Happened
The Tigers jumped out to a two-goal lead after Thursday’s overtime hero Matt Sovero potted the game’s first goal just 53 seconds in, bull dodging down his man on the right alley.
Towson tacked on its second as Brendan Sunday dropped a feed up to Grant Maloof who went low and away.
The Minutemen capitalized on unsettled situations for a four-goal run to end the first quarter. Rookie of the Year Chris Connolly scored on a busted play with 12:56 to go in the period before Jake Lisauskas finished a pass from Jeff Trainor.
In the final minute of the frame, UMass scored twice, one from Billy Philpott in transition and a second from Player of the Year Isaac Paparo on a Trainor feed.
After a Koby Smith penalty at the end of the first, UMass opened the second quarter with an extra-man goal from Connolly on a Buddy Carr assist.
After Jean-Luc Chetner wore a slash, the Tigers got on the extra-man. It was fitting as the Penticton, British Columbia native feed Maloof for the latter’s seventh man-up goal of the season at 9:30 of the second, snapping a five-goal UMass run.
Slipping to the turf but spinning to face the goal, Timmy Monahan finished a shot low and away past Sean Sconone to pull the Tigers back within one at 7:11 of the second quarter.
After the break, Towson got back to its scoring ways as Chetner hit Sunday with a right-to-left pass before Sunday steamed the game-tying goal past Sconone just 1:05 into the fresh half.
The Minutemen got back-to-back goals on Connolly feeds, the first at 10:56 of the third and the second at 4:22 from Devin Spencer.
UMass reeled off a third-straight goal in transition to take a three-goal lead. Carr scored on a third-straight feed from Connolly.
The final 32 seconds of the third quarter were a flury as Towson scored twice while UMass scored once. Chetner struck with 32 seconds to play in the third on a broken UMass clear. Jake McLean scooped up a ground ball and found the Canadian on the doorstep. Off the ensuing faceoff, UMass got the win from Noah Rak, who hit Carr with 24 seconds to play. Off the next faceoff, Alex Woodall won the draw, hit Monahan who then threw a pass down to the crease to Giuffreda.
The Minutemen shut the door in the fourth quarter as Connolly, Trainer and Ben Spencer all scored. Giuffreda breathed life back into the Tigers with 11:14 to play, making it a 10-8 game, but the final two goals of the game sealed Towson’s fate.
Behind the Numbers
Towson out-shot the Minutemen 49-30, putting 24 of those shots on goal. Pressured in the fourth quarter, the Tigers reeled off 16 attempts.
The Tigers won the ground ball battle 26-23 thanks to Woodall’s strong day at the X. Towson had a perfect day clearing, gaining the zone eight times.
Shane Brennan made six saves in goal for the Tigers.