PRINCETON, N.J. -- In the midst of the flying sticks, the tumbling bodies and the weeping parents, Carl Runk stood on the sidelines and simply screamed.
Thankfully, he wasn't wearing a microphone.
"I never cussed like that after a game before," Runk said. "Strictly sailor talk."
But after 24 years of coaching at Towson State University and trying to boost the school into the lacrosse big-time, Runk could be excused for an R-rated celebration. His team finally crashed into the National Collegiate Athletic Association's Final Four yesterday.
Lindsay Dixon's extra-man goal 13 seconds into the third, four-minute overtime period gave Towson a 14-13 victory over No. 3-seeded Princeton in the national quarterfinals. Towson State will meet Maryland, a 16-13 winner over Brown, in the Final Four semifinals, Saturday at Syracuse, N.Y.
"This game could have been recommended by the coronary care unit of any hospital in America," Runk said.
The afternoon drama between No. 11 Towson State (11-3) and Princeton (12-3) lasted 68 minutes, 13 seconds, second longest in the 21-year history of the tournament. The game included a five-goal burst by Princeton's Justin Tortolani, matched by three goals from Towson State's Glenn Smith and two from Tim Barger. There were 20 saves by Princeton's Scott Bacigalupo and 18 saves by Towson State's Richard Betcher. And there were the extraordinary defensive takeaways arranged by Towson State's Steve Kisslinger.
But the game finally ended on a one-hop, 10-foot shot off the stick of Dixon, a junior midfielder from Broadneck High School.
After Princeton's Brian Tomeo received a 30-second holding penalty with three seconds left in the second overtime, the Tigers held the ball, and then diagrammed the winning goal between periods.
When play resumed, Dixon took a pass from John Blatchley, ran 3 yards to his right and bounced the ball by Bacigalupo, a freshman from St. Paul's.
"I put everything I had in that shot and let it go," Dixon said.
Bacigalupo, who had 20 saves, went to his knees to block the ball, but it slipped into the net.
"It's tough," Bacigalupo said. "I think I should have had it. I don't know what happened."
When the season began, Towson State rarely was mentioned as a Final Four contender. As usual, the school was overshadowed by its neighbors, Johns Hopkins, Loyola and the University of Maryland. But a strong showing in a preseason scrimmage against Virginia convinced many of the team's insiders that Towson State was an emerging power.
"A handful of fans felt we'd get in the Final Four, and I said, 'God bless 'em,' " Runk said. "I didn't think we'd have the material for the Final Four."
But with a run-and-gun style that churns from the midfield, Towson State bulled its way into the Final Four. A 14-13 victory over Virginia in the tournament's first round was the springboard to Syracuse.
"I really believe we have a great team," Betcher said. "Everything came together at the right time."
Still, Towson State had to survive some tense moments against Princeton, which wiped out a 7-4 deficit with a 6-3 third-quarter burst. Tortolani's fifth goal with 1:37 left in regulation sent the game into overtime. Taylor Simmers' bounce shot on an extra-man unit with less than one minute to play in the second overtime nearly won the game for Princeton. But Betcher scooped up the ball and gave Towson State a second chance.
"I never saw the shot," Betcher said. "I'm just glad I got to the ball. My heart was pounding."
A few minutes later, Betcher and his teammates were running wildly on the field, overjoyed that they finally had reached the Final Four.
"It's hard to really describe the feeling," Dixon said. "We're very happy. It's like living a childhood dream."
Towson State .. 4 ..3 .. 3 .. 3 .. 0 .. 0 .. 1 -- 14
Princeton .. .. 3 ..1 .. 6 .. 3 .. 0 .. 0 .. 0 -- 13
Goals: TS--Smith 3, Barger 2, Blatchley, DeSimone, Dixon, Genovese, Kisslinger, Millon, Sharretts, Shek, Shoul; P--Tortolani 5, Meistrell 2, McHugh 2, Reinhardt, Lowe, Moe, Marro. Assists: TS--Blatchley 2, DeSimone 2, Smith, Barger; P--Lowe 5, Moe, Clapp, Schroeder. Saves: TS--Betcher 18; P--Bacigalupo 20.