Towson men stopped in soccer final 3rd-seeded Drexel wins America East title, 2-1

November 09, 1998|By Dan Hickling | Dan Hickling,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

BURLINGTON, Vt. -- Towson's men's soccer season ended in disappointment yesterday, as the top-seeded Tigers fell to No. 3 Drexel in the America East tournament final.

Seeking its first league championship since 1991, when it played in the East Coast Conference, Towson instead was handed a 2-1 loss by an enterprising Dragons squad that got to the title game by knocking off five-time America East kingpin Boston University.

Drexel took that game, 2-0 on Friday, then upended the regular-season champion Tigers.

Towson held a 25-10 edge in shots and failed to capitalize on many scoring chances. But it was the careless play in the waning seconds of the first half that led to a demoralizing goal with five seconds remaining by freshman Mark Zajac.

What looked like a harmless throw-in, halfway into the Towson end, by Ciaran Barrett became a crippling body punch. As time ticked down, Barrett heaved the ball from the right sideline into the goal mouth. Tiger goalie Ethan Jennings moved out to gather it on the hop, unaware that Zajac was about to barge in from the left side. Before Jennings could move, Zajac cut in front of him and nodded the ball into the net.

"He [Jennings] hesitated a little bit," said Zajac, "and it cost him the goal. I guess I was in the right place at the right time."

That made the Drexel lead 2-0 -- the other goal came at 18: 44 on Pete Shay's header -- leaving Towson coach Frank Olszewski with a king-size mending job at halftime.

"There's an old saying in soccer," Olszewski said, "if you don't take care of the game, the game takes care of you, and that's what happened. I told the team that we had to go back to what got us here."

That meant keeping the heat on Dragons goalie Michael Haberman the way the Tigers did early on. The Tigers scored at 63: 26, when freshman Dantoine Bryant cleanly put away a 10-yarder. But the comeback hopes faded in the final minutes, when Peter Medd's header from close range sailed outside the left post.

"It's frustrating," said Olszewski, "because you figure something's going to break eventually."

Pub Date: 11/09/98

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