Broadneck graduate Lindsay Dixon wasn't having the kind of year he had hoped for as a junior midfielder on the Towson State University men's lacrosse team.
At least, not until the Tigers' 14-13 victory over Princeton last Sunday in the National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I quarterfinals.
Dixon's extra-man goal just 14 seconds into the third overtime assured Towson its first-ever berth in the Final Four at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse, N.Y., tomorrow afternoon.
"It was crazy," said Dixon, describing his game-winning goal. "It was great to score, and it was great to get that game over with.
"I haven't had quite as gooda year as I had last year, but I guess
that goal kind of makes upfor it for me personally."
Towson State veteran coach Carl Runk echoed Dixon's sentiment and reconveyed the junior's undeniable value to the team.
"Lindsay hasn't had the kind of season that he wanted, but he's the guy who got us in this position right now," said Runk."We're going to the Final Four because of Lindsay Dixon and his concentration."
Despite the fact that Dixon has tallied only nine goals and 11 assists after being named to the All-East Coast Conference team last year with 17 goals and 16 assists, Runk did not lose faith in the Annapolis resident.
"There was no doubt in my mind that he could do the job," said Runk. "We (the coaches) talked about some of the things we could do (to score), but our final decision was with Lindsay. It was a big decision, but there was no doubt in my mind that if everything worked well and everyone did their job, that Lindsay could do it for us."
Runk, who in his 24 years as head coach has developed a sixth sense for detecting self-doubt, said he was looking for an opportunity to restore Dixon's confidence and felt the time was right Sunday.
"Lindsay was in a position where he started off realstrong, and mid-season he dropped off a little bit," said Runk. "He's been pressuring himself to do well, but we've stayed away from him.We don't want to put pressure on him.
"We thought, with the last play, that if we were to take him and he comes through for us, he would regain the confidence that he had early in the season. It's workedout great for us, and we're pleased with that."
Dixon and the Tigers (11-3) will take their revived confidence into tomorrow's 3 p.m. matchup with seventh-seeded Maryland (10-4) -- a team that advanced by upsetting No. 2 Brown University.
The victor will advance to Monday's noon final in the Carrier Dome against either top-seeded North Carolina (14-0) or three-time defending national champion Syracuse.
"These last two weeks have been great," said Dixon. "We were happy just to get into the playoffs at first, but after beating Virginia (14-13 in the opening round), our confidence started building. After beating Princeton, it was unbelievable. There hasn't been a frown on anyone's face this week."
Maryland and Towson have faced off 11 times since first meeting in 1971, and the Terps lead the series, 10-1. The Tigers' lone win over the Terps, 8-7, came in 1990.
Dixon scored what proved to be the winning goal in that contest when his shot found the net, giving Towson an 8-5 advantage.
Dixon, who, along with team mate Glenn Smith missed the Tigers' regular-season battle withthe Terps while finishing out a two-game suspension for "eligibilityirregularities," has an added incentive to beat the Terps. He's going up against a former teammate from Broadneck, junior faceoff specialist Andy Claxton. "We were the best of friends in high school, and westill are," said Dixon, who hasn't seen Claxton since the Tigers' 17-16 loss March 16 at Minnegan Stadium. "We do everything together in the summer, that's why this is so important.
"Andy's a faceoff man, and we have a special faceoff unit, so I don't really get to be on the field the same time as him, but every faceoff will be very emotional for me. I want to see Andy do well, but I also want to see Maryland go down."
A first-team All-County selection his junior and senior years, Dixon helped the Bruins capture the Class 3A state title inhis final campaign with a team-high 48 goals and 49 assists.
Broadneck coach Clay White was happy to learn of the success of his two former players and said he was not astonished when he learned about Dixon's game-win ner against Princeton.
"I'm not surprised by anything Lindsay does on the lacrosse field," said White, who watched two of Dixon's games this season. "He was one of the best practice playerswe ever had at Broadneck. He's a strong-willed kid, he's got good vision, and he's a student of the game. He anticipates well."
Three other countians, freshmen Carl Tamulevich and Kevin Krupinsky of St. Mary's and Tim Riggins of Annapolis, are on Towson State's roster andwill be on the sidelines cheering for the Tigers.
While Dixon admits that he probably will be "a little nervous" come faceoff time, hesaid he has been impressed with the way his team has remained focused and at ease throughout the pressure-packed playoffs.
"Our team'sattitude has been unbelieveable," said Dixon. "No one's really on campus, but everyone's in a great mood and taking it relaxed, and I think that's the best thing for the team. When we're relaxed we play ourball." Runk shares Dixon's casual attitude and added, "Don't worry. We're not going to take ourselves too serious."