Men’s Lacrosse captures CAA crown
Towson defeated Penn State 11-10 on Friday afternoon to win its first Colonial Athletic Association title since 2005.
The Tigers (10-7) travelled to University Park, Pa., with revenge on their minds, as they lost to the Nittany Lions (12-4) 10-8 on April 1.
The conference title is Towson’s fourth in school history. It is the first CAA title under Head Coach Shawn Nadelen.
“I’m so proud of our team,” Nadelen said. “I’m proud of the way they’ve played this season after a rough start. Avenging those regular season losses and coming away with a CAA championship is something special.”
The Tigers quickly jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the game’s first five minutes behind goals from McCarty and sophomore midfielder Greg Cuccinello.
Penn State responded with three unanswered goals in a span of four minutes.
The Tigers then turned to Junior attack man Thomas DeNapoli and senior attack man Matt Hughes, who each scored goals to help the team regain the lead heading into the second quarter.
DeNapoli finished the game with two goals.
The Nittany Lions had another stretch of three consecutive goals, but the attack of the Tigers responded and the game was tied 6-6 heading into halftime.
The Tigers opened up the second half on a 3-0 run that stretched into the fourth quarter.
Cuccinello scored two goals during the stretch to record his second hat trick of the season. Junior midfielder Andrew Hodgson also added a goal.
“Greg’s a guy who has really stepped up his game,” Nadelen said. “He’s been working hard and making himself great by putting the extra time in and for him to put up a performance like this in the CAA tournament is great to see.”
Towson held onto an 11-8 lead with less than three minutes remaining in the game, but a late offensive push by Penn State closed the gap.
Penn State rallied off two straight goals in a 30-second span, however its final push proved to be not enough. That was in part to the stellar play of Senior goalkeeper Andrew Wascavage, who recorded 12 saves, including four in the fourth quarter.
“Andrew’s been our MVP all season,” Nadelen said. “Anybody who has watched us play can say that. We’ve just really rallied behind him all year long and especially during the tournament.”
Despite the success by the Tigers, their performance on face-offs continued to be a struggle on Friday. Using three different face-off men, the team managed to win just 5-of-24 face-offs.
Freshman defenseman Patrick Conroy handled 19 of the face-offs, winning five.
Penn State’s final goal with 1:42 remaining occurred during a man-up chance.
The Tigers failed to score on each of their two extra man opportunities, while the Nittany Lions converted on both of their chances.
DeNapoli and McCarty each led the team in ground balls with three, while junior midfielder Robby Zoppo added two.
The win gives the Tigers an automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament. Their first-round opponent will be announced on Sunday, May 5.
“We just have to stay focused,” Nadelen said. “We’re excited about our win and the guys will enjoy it, but we know what’s ahead and we’re prepared to have a great week of practice.”
Wascavage was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player.
DeNapoli, freshman midfielder Ben McCarty and junior midfielder Jordan Fortmann were named to the All-Tournament team.