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Tigers beat Drexel, advance to title game

By: Desmond Boyle

Tyler Konen opened the first and second halves with quick goals for Towson.

For a third straight season, the Towson Tigers men’s lacrosse team has beaten the Drexel Dragons to advance to the CAA Championship game. On Thursday night the Tigers used their powerful offense to shut Drexel down 8-4 and will advance to the championship game against third-seeded UMass on Saturday at 1 pm.

The Tigers, which have been plagued by slow offensive starts all year, were determined to not let that happen as they came out firing. After owning almost all of the possession in the opening minutes, senior attackman Tyler Konen scored a quick on in the first minute and a half.

Drexel, meanwhile, struggled to create anything offensively and settled for wild shots from the perimeter that did not test Towson’s senior goalkeeper Matt Hoy.

Eventually, Drexel got going 10 minutes in when they executed a flawless pick-and-roll. Marshal King set the pick for Reid Bowering, then rolled toward space. Bowering patiently waited until King was open right in the slot. Bowering threw him the pass and the sophomore made no mistake scoring from short distance. Hoy did make a save on Bowering from point-blank range to keep the game tied going into the second quarter.

Drexel’s goalkeeper Jimmy Joe Granito made an equally good save to start the second half when he denied Jon Mazza a goal on a rip from up close. The Dragons then took their first and only lead of the game when Cam Harris battled past several Towson defenders before faking high and scoring low.

Towson’s long offensive stall was due to Drexel’s biggest asset on defense. Short stick midfielder Brendan Fabian completely locked down Tiger’s playmaker and assist leader Ryan Drenner.

“We just keep looking for high-quality shots and trying to find net,” Towson head coach Shawn Nadelen said. “Drexel did a really good job defensively on us mixing up some pressure and shoves. We expected a lot of different looks zone and all those different things and they threw everything at us so I was proud of our guys not to get too rattled.”

The Tigers had to settle for shots from distance but eventually were able to fire one of those perimeter shots in as Mike Lynch launched a goal from the edge of the area to tie the game.

As the second quarter wore on, the Tigers began to own more of the ball and found an offensive rhythm that was lacking in the first half. Lynch would make it 3-2 with his second in a row after sprinting past a defender and shooting a laser past Granito.

Senior midfielder Tyler Young would be the next Tiger to get on the scoreboard after getting the ball in space and charging from the edge of the area before scoring Towson’s fourth goal. Young’s goal would be the last of the first half as the Tigers would take a 4-2 lead going into the half.

Despite outshooting the Dragons 22-12 and winning all but one of the eight faceoffs in the first half, Towson only had a two-goal lead to show for their domination. The second half had and eerily similar start as the first as Konen scored within the first minute of play.

Towson looked to put the game away early in the third as they controlled the majority of possession and outshot the Dragons 13-2 in the period. Woodall continued to own the faceoff circle and the attackmen executed efficient passing before Young added his second goal of the game to extend the Tiger’s lead to four.

“When you look at how good (Granito) was playing, it was crucial,” Nadelen said of the faceoff superiority. “Alex, he goes into every game and win every faceoff. That’s the sign of a player that really wants to fo well and be successful.”

Drexel pegged one back as Will Manganiello rifled a pass from the edge of the area to King, who shot and scored immediately from a close distance. After the Dragons’ goal, Towson poured on the pressure, making Granito having to make save-after-save before the Dragons took a timeout to regroup.

The Tigers continued to push for a four-goal lead until Mazza scored an unassisted goal with a low rip from dead center with just under a minute to play in the third period. Mazza’s goal would give Towson a four-goal cushion heading into the fourth quarter.

Drexel looked to make a comeback at the start of the final 15 as a slash on Towson midfielder Zach Goodrich gave them a man-up opportunity, but the Tigers cleared quickly and stalled for the remainder of the minute. Stalling would be the major theme of the fourth quarter as the Dragons struggled to disrupt Towson’s attackers, who were clearly trying to kill the clock.

When Drexel did manage to get the ball they often couldn’t hold on to it for very long or create much when they did. The Dragons only real chances in the quarter came on their only other man-up opportunity of the game. Drexel’s attack put several shots on frame but Hoy stood strong and held the Dragons scoreless during the penalty.

Senior attackman Joe Seider iced the game with an unassisted rip that came with two and a half minutes left to play in the game. The goal was the 115th of Seider’s career put him 10 behind all-time leading Towson goal scorer Glenn Smith Jr.

Drexel would score a consolation goal with a little over a minute to play, but it would not be enough as the Tigers left with the 8-4 victory.

Towson will look to win their third straight CAA tournament crown. The Minutemen advanced to the finals with a 13-12 upset over second-seeded Hofstra. The Tigers beat UMass for the crown in 2015.

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Desmond Boyle

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