Tigers claw past Bears in overtime thriller
Towson won its first game of the season Sunday coming from behind to defeat Mercer 9-8 in overtime at Johnny Unitas Stadium.
Junior attack man Thomas DeNapoli scored the Tigers’ (1-3) game-winning goal 2:56 into the overtime period.
“I’m definitely proud of our guys to find a way,” Head Coach Shawn Nadelen said after Sunday’s win. “To get No. 1 for the season, I’m proud of the guys for how they handled it. I give a ton of credit to our guys to dig in and stay focused.”
In a closely contested game that was affected by high wind speeds, Towson was able to prevail behind an offensive surge late in the game.
Towson opened the scoring early in the first quarter with a goal from junior midfielder Rob Zoppo. DeNapoli had the assist on the goal.
Mercer (1-2) answered with two goals by Timmy Geran and Chris Baxa. The Bears maintained a 2-1 lead for the majority of the second quarter.
Towson responded by scoring two goals just before halftime to give the Tigers a 3-2 lead at the midway point. Senior attacker Matt Hughes and DeNapoli were the goal scorers.
The Tigers opened the second half with consistent control of possession. The second half scoring began with a goal from sophomore attack man Cory Dobyns. The Towson attack struggled to score consistently as Mercer goalie Mike Nugent stopped several on-target Towson shots.
Many of the goals for the Tigers came within close range. The close shots were aided by the play of junior Paul Danko, who earned his first start of the season Sunday. Danko’s presence behind the net on offense helped open up chances for DeNapoli and sophomore Greg Cuccinello, who has now scored in three straight games.
Despite Towson’s control of the ball to open the second half, the game was tied at five heading into the fourth quarter. Mercer opened up the final quarter with a goal from Zack Ward. Towson failed to maintain possession for long durations, which led to few scoring opportunities.
The Bears quickly gained an 8-5 lead just five minutes into the fourth quarter. Dobyns and DeNapoli, however, ignited a Towson attack that scored three goals in less than a minute.
The game was a stalemate for the final eight minutes with neither team gaining many prime scoring opportunities. The game was tied at eight at the end of regulation, sending the teams to sudden death overtime.
Just under three minutes into the extra period, DeNapoli attempted a shot from about 10 yards out, sneaking it past Nugent to give the Tigers the win.
“We drew up the play in the huddle,” DeNapoli said. “Brian Bolewicki came down to set the seal on my guy and we just found a crease.”
Senior goalie Andrew Wascavage saved seven shots in the win. The Tigers also held the Bears to just one goal on four man-up opportunities.
The Tigers return to action Saturday when they travel to Mount St. Mary’s. The game begins at 7 p.m.