CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. -- Towson State University, the team that was on the playoff bubble, burst Virginia's yesterday.
Towson midfielder Tony Millon, after a 50-yard run, scored his fourth goal from outside the top of the crease with 6 minutes, 7 seconds remaining to lift Towson State to a 14-13 upset of Virginia in the opening round of the National Collegiate Athletic Association lacrosse tournament at Scott Stadium.
The win by 11th-seeded Towson (10-3) over No. 6 Virginia (10-4) left the crowd of 803 stunned, especially since the Cavaliers, who once were ranked No. 1 during the regular season, were picked by a few experts to win the national title, and the Tigers barely made the 12-team tournament.
Instead, Towson will travel to meet No. 3 Princeton (12-2) Sunday in a quarterfinal game. And the Tigers couldn't leave the field without letting the lacrosse world know they had arrived.
"We came down here just happy the selection committee let us in the tournament," said Towson midfielder Rob Shek, who had two goals and two assists. "We knew that once we got in, we had so much talent that we would prove ourselves."
Millon said: "And, now, people realize we belong in this tournament. This is a gigantic win for Towson State. I'm psyched. Big-time psyched."
Millon seemed like a man possessed on his game-winning goal. Seconds before the play, Virginia had given up possession on its offensive end because on an illegal pick.
Millon took the ball when play restarted, ran from restraining line to restraining line, dodged one defender and scored what may have been the most significant goal for the Tigers since joining Division I in 1980. It was Towson's first playoff win in the division.
"I just started running, and they gave me a lane," said Millon. "Actually, I was looking for someone cutting across, but no one did. So I switched from my right hand to my left, and just shot the ball."
It was just one of a number of take-charge, run-at-the-goal, isolation plays the Tigers scored on yesterday. Virginia couldn't stop Towson midfielders Shek, Millon or David Shoul (one goal). And when the Tigers worked from behind the net, they got goals from attackmen Glenn Smith (three) and John Blatchley (two).
"Virginia's defense is so talented that they have a way of taking an attack right out of the game," said Towson coach Carl Runk. "That's why we wanted to keep the ball and work from the midfield."
Runk also made an adjustment at halftime. He went from man-to-man defense to zone. Virginia went from 11 first-half goals to two in the second.
"You can't run and gun with Virginia the entire game. They just have too much depth and can run you in the hole, especially on a hot day like today [85 degrees]," said Runk. "We needed to stay in the game, and the zone really helped."
Neither team seemed as if it wanted to play defense in the first quarter, but Shek had the hottest stick, scoring two goals in the first five minutes and giving the Tigers a 5-2 lead with 6:19 left in the first period. But Virginia, isolating on Towson defender Kyle Kernan, scored two goals to pull within 5-4 at the end of the period.
Virginia continued to dominate the pace, scoring two goals within the first minute of the second period, taking its first lead of the game, 6-5. For the next 10 minutes, the teams traded goals until Virginia scored on three consecutive goals from Perry Frazer, Gabby Roe and Craig Ronald within a four-minute span to give Virginia an 11-8 lead with 53 seconds left in the half.
Towson's offense had become motionless until Smith scored on the rebound of a shot to the left of the goal with 13 seconds left in the half.
Virginia took only seven shots in the third period, one a 12-foot goal from midfielder Andy Kraus with 10:25 left in the period. Towson forced all the action, with 16 shots and three goals, tying the score at 12-12 after three periods.
Smith, on a cross-crease feed from Shek, gave Towson a 13-12 lead with 14:29 left in the game, but Frazer scored on a high shot from nine yards out to tie it 33 seconds later.
Towson State.. 5.. 4.. 3.. 2 -- 14
Virginia .. .. 4.. 7.. 1.. 1 -- 13
Goals: T--Smith 3, Blatchley 2, Shek 2, Millon 4, Shoul, DeSimone, Sharretts; V--Frazer 4, Pehlke 3, Roe 2, Appelt 2, Kraus, Ronald. Assists: T--Shek 2, DeSimone, Kissinger; V--Kraus, Ronald, Roe, Newman. Saves: T--Betcher 19; V--Groeninger 21.