TU takes down Drexel
Towson advanced to the Colonial Athletic Association Championship game with an 11-8 win over conference foe Drexel on Wednesday night in University Park, Pa.
The third-seeded Tigers (9-7) pulled off the upset of the second-seeded Dragons (11-4) behind a six-goal performance by freshman midfielder Ben McCarty, who scored just six goals all year prior to Wednesday’s postseason matchup.
“I’m excited for Ben,” Head Coach Shawn Nadelen said. “He’s a guy who works real hard every day. He’s someone who maximized his efforts throughout the season and he finally got a chance to showcase his skills in the conference tournament.”
The win by the Tigers evened out the season series with the Dragons, as they had previously lost at Drexel on April 20.
McCarty opened up the game’s scoring with an unassisted goal with 11:27 remaining in the first quarter. Drexel answered with a goal soon after.
Junior attack man Thomas DeNapoli and McCarty each scored goals within a two-minute span to give the Tigers a 3-1 lead.
The Tigers entered the second quarter leading 4-2.
Second-quarter goals by junior midfielder Andrew Hodgson, McCarty and senior attack man Matt Hughes propelled Towson to an 8-2 lead in the game’s opening half.
Towson entered halftime leading 8-3.
Hodgson scored his second goal of the night with 12:36 remaining to give the Tigers a 9-3 lead.
Three straight goals by the Dragons cut the deficit to 9-6.
McCarty scored his final two goals of the night over the game’s last eight minutes to help fend off a late Drexel push and give Towson the win.
DeNapoli and Hodgson each finished the game with two points, amd DeNapoli added an assist.
Despite controlling a lead for the entire game, the Tigers failed to take advantage of face-off opportunities.
Nadelen has struggled all year to find consistency in regards to face-offs.
On Wednesday night, that trend continued.
The Tigers won just 3-of-22 face-offs, as freshman defenseman Patrick Conroy handled the duties, taking 21 of the 22 face-offs.
Along with losing the face-off battle 19-3, the Tigers also lost the ground ball battle 30-22. However, their consistent attack and stout defense allowed the team to maintain control of possession and the lead.
Another reason for the Tigers’ success on Wednesday was the stellar play of senior goalie Andrew Wascavage.
He recorded 14 saves, including five in the fourth quarter as he helped stave off an up-tempo Drexel attack in the game’s final minutes.
“Andrew had an unbelievable game,” Nadelen said. “He made some big stops at the end of the game and gave us the opportunity to hold Drexel off.”
McCarty’s six-goal performance came off just seven shots, with all six shots on goal going in. Sophomore midfielder Justin Mabus had three assists.
Junior attack man Robert Church led Drexel in scoring with three goals.
The Tigers return to action on Friday, May 3 at 3 p.m. when they take on No. 1 seed and tournament host Penn State for the CAA title.
The winner of the game earns an automatic berth in this year’s NCAA tournament.
The Tigers previously played the Nittany Lions on April 13, as they lost a tightly contested road matchup, 10-8.
The Nittany Lions enter Friday’s championship with a 12-3 record after defeating UMass 10-7 Wednesday afternoon.
Penn State has a perfect 7-0 record in conference play this season.
The championship berth by Towson is its first since 2010.
“We have to be smarter,” Nadelen said of Friday’s rematch. “Last game, we had a lot of self-inflicted wounds. We know what we’re capable of overcoming that. When we’re playing at a high level, we know how good we can be.”