Towson shocks Jays, 13-12 Upset may seal spot in tourney for Tigers

April 28, 1996|By Jamison Hensley | Jamison Hensley,CONTRIBUTING WRITER

Towson State attackman Kevin Travis ran out the final seconds, high-stepping his way with the ball toward the end of the field. When the horn sounded, Travis launched his stick high in the air, and the Tigers erupted into euphoria.

His teammates started to pile on Travis one after the other under the Homewood Field scoreboard, which read: Towson State 13, Johns Hopkins 12. It was only the third time in 23 meetings that Towson State had defeated Hopkins in lacrosse and the first since 1992.

"The news going out of Baltimore is you can't deny us," said Travis, who helped pace the Tigers with four assists. "We have to be in the tournament. There's new life in Towson."

The No. 19 Tigers (7-4) said all week that a victory over the No. 5 Blue Jays (5-5) would secure a bid to the 12-team NCAA tournament, which begins in two weeks. Towson State now has wins over two top-10 opponents and has lost its four games by a combined seven goals.

"I'm overwhelmed," said Towson coach Carl Runk, whose 250th career win was overshadowed by the significance of the victory. "I can't tell you what this means to me. We've got to get into the tournament now."

Towson appeared to be wavering near the end of the fourth quarter, going scoreless for six minutes to allow its three-goal lead almost to evaporate. Milford Marchant's high bouncer barely nicked the top crossbar to pull Hopkins within 12-11 with 2: 54 left.

The Blue Jays won the ensuing faceoff, but Towson's Tim Langton stripped Werner Krueger of the ball and called a timeout. On an isolation play with 2 1/2 minutes left, Langton cut in from the left wing and slammed the ball over Hopkins goalkeeper Jonathan Marcus' right shoulder to give the Tigers a 13-11 advantage.

Just 30 seconds later, Billy Evans scored on a low grounder to cut the lead to 13-12. Hopkins had two possessions in the final minute, but one ended in Andrew Godfrey's crease violation and the last chance stalled when Towson defenseman Rich Walsh forced a turnover.

At that point, most of the Blue Jays collapsed to the ground before the crowd of 4,445. Hopkins is in jeopardy of its first losing season since 1971, which is also the last time the Blue Jays failed to qualify for the NCAA tournament.

"We're just trying to stay alive," Hopkins coach Tony Seaman said. "It's pretty obvious that we have to end up with a win next Saturday [against Loyola] and we'll have a good shot at the playoffs."

The Blue Jays had their opportunities against Towson.

Behind Krueger, Hopkins won 22 of 27 faceoffs, including 12 of 14 in the second half. Hopkins also had a 52-40 edge in ground balls.

But the Blue Jays took only 38 shots, the same number as the Tigers. The reason: the manhandling, take-away Towson defense spearheaded by Michael Graebner and Fred Cindrich.

Not only did this strategy keep the Blue Jays from shooting, it usually started a highly successful transition game.

Defensive midfielder Lee Williams scored off the fast break to give Towson its first two-goal lead, 7-5 with 1: 38 left in the second quarter. The Tigers widened that margin to 9-5 midway through the third quarter when Kevin Sturm converted a pass from Matt Clune.

The Blue Jays muscled their way back by scoring four unanswered goals, tying the game at 9 on a diving goal by Dave Marr with 15 seconds left in the third quarter.

Sturm answered for the Tigers, scoring twice to open the fourth.

Hopkins came back to tie, then Michael Strohman staked Towson to its 12-9 lead with 8: 21 left, scoring from five yards out in an unsettled situation off the faceoff.

"We've run with Syracuse and Maryland and we knew we could run with Hopkins," Tigers goalkeeper Brian Whalen said. "We worked really hard out there. I believe we're one of the top teams out there."

Towson State ... 4 .. 3 .. 2 .. 4 .. -- .. 13

Johns Hopkins .. 4 .. 1 .. 4 .. 3 .. -- .. 12

Goals: TS--Sturm 4, Langton 3, Stromberg, Hoskins, Heddings, Williams, Ray, Strohman; JH--B. Evans 4, Zuchelli 3, Marr 2, Denihan, Bond, Marchant. Assists: TS--Travis 4, Clune 2; JH--Denihan 2, Godfrey 2, Marchant, Marr. Saves: TS--Whalen 13; JH--Marcus 10.

Pub Date: 4/28/96

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