Towson climbs to new plateau

May 16, 1991|By Tim Kerr | Tim Kerr,Special to The Evening Sun

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. -- In a game full of big plays, Towson State midfielder Tony Millon found himself in the middle of his share. In fact, he made most of them.

Millon scored four goals, including the game-winner, as the 11th-seeded Tigers upset sixth-seeded Virginia 14-13 yesterday in the first round of the NCAA Division I lacrosse tournament.

It was the Tigers' first playoff victory since joining Division I in 1980. Towson (10-3) now plays at third-seeded Princeton (12-2) in Sunday's quarterfinals, at a time to be announced.

Two of Millon's four goals tied the score. The other two put Towson ahead, although the 5-foot-9 senior claimed he didn't know he had scored the game-winner.

"I did?" said Millon, who had only eight goals all season. "All I know is I'm happy we're still playing. It's a gigantic win for us."

The sequence of events that led to Millon's winning shot -- which broke a 13-13 tie with 6:10 remaining -- typified the day for both teams.

Glenn Smith, who scored three goals, put the Tigers ahead 13-12 just 37 seconds into the fourth period with a tough-angle shot from 10 yards out.

The Cavaliers (10-4) controlled the game's next eight minutes but managed only Perry Frazer's game-tying shot, his fourth goal of the day. Turnovers and missed open shots prevented Virginia from going ahead on numerous fastbreak chances.

When Virginia lost a three-on-one opportunity on a turnover, Virginia coach Jim Adams had had enough. He called timeout on the next possession, but when his team began its offense after the break, Cavaliers midfielder Andy Kraus was immediately called for an illegal pick.

Millon took the ball at midfield on the restart and, as Towson players had done all afternoon, used his quickness to beat three Virginia defenders. He scored to put the Tigers ahead for good.

"We had good opportunities, but you've got to make them," Adams said. "It was a game that could have gone either way, and they made that extra good play that makes the difference."

Some of those plays were made on the sidelines. Towson coach Carl Runk watched his team bolt to a 5-2 lead in the first quarter by running with the break-minded Cavaliers, but he also saw Virginia put on spurts of four and three goals that gave it an 11-8 advantage with 53 seconds left in the first half.

At the intermission, Runk changed tactics.

"We had to get the hell out of that transition game," Runk said. "We told our guys that once they shot to just turn around and run back on defense because their goalie was doing a good job getting the break started."

Towson went to a matchup zone in the third quarter and took control of the tempo. The Tigers outshot Virginia 16-7 in the period and picked up twice as many ground balls. The Cavaliers scored just two goals in the second half.

Smith helped keep Towson close by scoring with 13 seconds left in the first half, then adding another goal with 2:33 gone in the third quarter.

Kraus and John Blatchley (two goals) traded scores, and Millon tied the game for the sixth time on Rob Shek's assist with 4:01 remaining in the period.

After Towson went ahead 14-13, both goalies came up big. The Tigers' Richard Betcher, who notched 19 saves, stopped four Virginia shots in the last four minutes and also stole a pass in front of the goal.

Tom Groeninger, a graduate of Loyola High and one of several Baltimore area players on the Virginia team, stopped 21 attempts in goal, including three on one possession with three minutes left.

Towson appeared to have weathered the storm when Betcher saved two shots in a four-shot flurry with 90 seconds left and the Tigers cleared the ball into their offensive end.

But in the last 1:13, Virginia defenseman Mike Schattner made three takeaways by himself. The Cavaliers, however, could not capitalize on the chances.

Former Calvert Hall star Kevin Pehlke had three goals for Virginia. Defenseman Craig Ronald, from Loyola High, had a goal and an assist. Shek tallied two goals and two assists for Towson.

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