TOWSON, Md. – After a less-than-stellar first 45 minutes, the No. 16 Towson University men’s rallied in the fourth quarter to pull within a goal of No. 6 Denver with 22 seconds on the clock. But the comeback fell just short as Denver won 12-11.
Senior attackman Ryan Drenner put up a season-high tying six points on three goals and three assists, including three of those points in the fourth quarter during the comeback bid.
How It Happened
The visiting Pioneers (6-2) scored the first two goals of the contest as Colton Jackson had an unassisted mark at 10:23. Ethan Walker got a pass from Connor Donahue at the eight-minute mark, taking advantage of a six-on-four situation during two Tiger penalties.
With five minutes to go in the opening stanza, Drenner got his first of the day on a feed from Tyler Konen, cutting the Pioneer lead in half.
The Pioneers scored the only pair of goals in the second quarter from Jackson and Colton McCaffrey scored 30 seconds apart at 14:07 and 13:38, respectively.
Denver took a 4-1 halftime lead as shots were nearly even in the opening half. Towson (4-3) out-shot the Pioneers by one, 18-17, through the first 30 minutes. The Tigers got five saves from Josh Miller, while his counterpart Alex Ready stopped six.
After a failed clear attempt by Denver in the first minute of the second half, the Tigers pounced on the chance as Drenner cut the lead in half thanks to a clearing effort from Zach Goodrich, who had the assist to make it 4-2.
But the Pioneers ripped off three-straight goals over the next six minutes to take a 7-2 lead. Ethan Walker scored on a Sean Mayle assist, while Danny Logan notched an unassisted goal. Connor Cannizzaro, Denver’s top offensive threat, finished the small run with a strike at 8:23 on a Nick Marano goal.
Towson got back-to-back goals from rookie Drew Laundry, his first collegiate goal, at 8:23 with Drenner on the back end. The Tigers pulled back within three after a Joe Seider tally as the big attackman drove around the crease.
Denver scored twice in the final minute of the third quarter to regain a five-goal, 9-5 lead. Walker scored on a pass from Nick Phillips before Cannizzaro got his second of the period with just three seconds remaining.
Towson made a goalie change between the third and fourth quarters, swapping out Miller for senior Matt Hoy.
Denver did not give Hoy much time to adjust as Tyler pace scored just 60 seconds into the period.
Down by six goals, but certainly not out, the Tigers began a staggered rally as Brian Bolewicki beat Ready. Konen had his second helper of the day at 10:16. Goodrich connected Towson goals as he got another point in transition at 9:25.
The Pioneers broke up the small run at 7:40 as Jackson got another goal, this time unassisted. But with momentum building on the Tiger sideline, Mike Lynch and Goodrich scored back-to-back goals. Konen fed Lynch with his third assist of the afternoon, a career best. Drenner hit Goodrich with as pass at 6:25 to pull Towson back within striking distance.
Once again, Denver halted the Tigers mini run with a Walker tally at 4:41. Facing a four-goal deficit, the Tigers rallied again for the final three goals of the game. Drenner scored his final goal of the day at 1:52 after beating his defender around the crease for a no-look goal.
Denver head coach Bill Tierney was forced to call timeout with 49 seconds left after Ready faced a barrage of shots. That timeout allowed the Tiger coaches to talk to the offense and setup a play.
Out of the break, Drenner found an open Bolewicki at the top of the box and hit him with a skip pass and let the redshirt senior midfielder rip home a shot to make it a two-goal game with 40 seconds to play.
After winning the ensuing faceoff on a Denver holding call, Bolewicki drilled a pass to Konen, who scored his fourth of the season at 22 seconds to make it a one-goal contest.
But the Pioneers won the next draw and ran out the clock to preserve the 12-11 victory.
Behind the Numbers
A highly-anticipated faceoff battle went the way of Denver’s Trevor Baptiste, who won 20 of the game’s 27 draws. Towson’s Alex Woodall went 7-of-24, but challenged on a majority of the faceoffs.
Shots were evenly split at 37 aside, while Towson’s goalies combined for eight saves. Miller made six stops while Hoy turned aside two. Ready made 10 saves, including four in the first 15 minutes.
In an evenly-matched game, turnovers favored the Tigers as Towson had just seven miscues. Denver turned the ball over 17 times. Towson turned all three of Denver’s fourth-quarter turnovers into goals.
Saturday’s setback marks the first time since the end of 2015 season the Tigers suffered back-to-back losses.
The Tigers still lead the all-time series at 4-2. Saturday’s meeting with the first at Johnny Unitas ® Stadium since March 2, 2008. Three of the last four games between the Tigers and Denver have been one-goal contests.
Towson finished its nonconference schedule with a 4-3 mark, the fourth-straight season the Tigers have a winning nonconference record.
Up Next for the Tigers
After a three-game home stand, Towson hits the road to properly begin defense of its back-to-back Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) championships.
The Tigers head to Philadelphia for a clash with long-time rival Drexel.