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Brookhart makes history but Tigers stunned in semis

By: Jesse Baird

With four assists, Samantha Brookhart set both Towson and CAA assists records.

That was not supposed to be the result of their semifinal game. On Friday night the second-seeded Towson Tigers women’s lacrosse team suffered a heart-breaking 10-9 overtime loss to the third-seeded Elon Phoenix in the semifinals of their CAA tournament game.

“Just a tough,tough loss,” Towson head coach Sonia LaMonica said. “Our team I devastated. Elon gave us a really good fight today. We had opportunities and they just did not fall our way. This is what happened and you only get so many chances. We came up short tonight.”

Towson rank away from Elon for a 19-7 victory in early April, back when the Phoenix were the 19th ranked team in the country, but this time the Tigers needed to make a comeback in the second half just to be in position to get to overtime, but just could not capitalize on their chance in the extra session while Elon did.

The game was a story of momentum swings, with Elon digging down deep enough in overtime to grab the last bit of momentum available to score the game-winner on Towson’s Angie Benson in the second half of the first overtime period.

Elon’s Stephanie Asher scored that game-winning goal and led the way for the Phoenix with four goals in total on the night.

This came after two saves by Benson in the first half of the overtime period. The Tigers felt momentum picked up on their side because of their goalkeeper’s performance. Benson made 12 saves in total in the game and was a major driving force behind the team’s performance.

“She was lights out, I think 12 saves, with some key ones late,” LaMonica said. “She stepped up and did more than we needed her to do and proved why she is one of the great goalies out this season.”

Th game began as a back-and-forth shootout and was tied 3-3 early in the first. Then, Elon scored three in a row to take a 6-3 lead into halftime.

“The first half we did not show enough hunger for the ball,” LaMonica said. “We certainly showed it in the second half and put ourselves in good position, and we just weren’t able to pull it out. Our clearly struggled in the first half, and we got to be better than that. We are better and we need to show it.”

Towson was outshot 14-7 in the first half and went only 7-for-10 on clears. They were much better in both of those areas in the second half. The Tigers missed only one clear in the second half and held a 17-9 shooting advantage of the Phoenix in the second 30-minute frame.

That helped the Tigers take momentum back after halftime with a goal from Jenna Kerr on an assist from Samantha Brookhart, who set the CAA single-season assist record with 50, and Towson career assists mark with 92. It was her third assist of the evening.

Towson was trailing 6-4 after that goal, but road their momentum to a 9-7 lead with less than 10 minutes left in the game. At that point, the Tigers had given up only one goal in the second half.

But Elon had the final two goals of regulation as they took momentum back and forced overtime.

“This was very exciting and fun to be a part of. These are the sort of games you want to be in. It hurt now and losing doesn’t feel good, but in these types of games, adversity and challenged really show you the fight in our players,” LaMonica said.

Brookhart had two more assists in the game for a total of five on the night for 52 on the yer and 94 in her career. In addition to her strong play, Emily Gillingham had three goals while both Natalie Sulmonte and Carly Tellekamp each had two.

The loss means that for the first time since 2011, the Tigers will not be part of the CAA Championship game. Since 2008, the CAA has been won by either Towson or James Madison. The top-seeded Dukes beat Delaware in their semifinal game to set up a CAA title game against Elon. That game will be held on Sunday at 1 pm at Johnny Unitas Stadium.

Towson finished the year with a 12-6 record and 4-3 CAA record.

Though a bit of a longshot, with multiple victories over ranked opponents and with being a fixture in the national rankings all year long, Towson might have a chance to continue their season as an at-large selection to the NCAA tournament. The NCAA selection show will be on May 7.

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