Tigers come of age, oust Terps, 12-11

Two goals in final :44 send young Towson to NCAA final four

6th seed to face Princeton

Tigers earn first win over UM since 1994, 2nd semifinal berth

May 21, 2001|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,SUN STAFF

COLLEGE PARK - For the most unlikely success story in college lacrosse this spring, the party moves on to the big stage.

Towson, widely considered a few months ago to be a rebuilding team with too much youth and inexperience to dream about a championship this soon, is two victories away from the first national title in school history.

The Tigers did it with dramatic flair yesterday in the men's NCAA quarterfinals, snatching victory from Maryland on the Terrapins' home field by scoring two goals in the game's final 44 seconds. In the final act, attackman Kyle Campbell finished a fast break by sending a 3-yard shot past Maryland goalkeeper Pat McGinnis with 27 seconds left, lifting Towson to a 12-11 victory before 10,118 at Byrd Stadium.

The victory, Towson's 12th in its past 13 games, sends the Tigers to next weekend's final four at Rutgers University. The sixth-seeded Tigers will play No. 2 seed Princeton Saturday at 3 p.m. The winner will play the Syracuse-Notre Dame semifinal winner next Monday for the title.

The Tigers (14-3), who carry just six seniors on their 43-man roster, were 3-10 a year ago, are in the NCAAs for the first time in five seasons, had not beaten Maryland since 1994 and had never beaten the Terps in College Park. Towson has won more games than any other team in the school's 21-year Division I history and is headed to the national semifinals for the second time. The Tigers lost in the final in 1991.

"The greatest part about this Towson team is every day is a game that's fun. It's not like this is a big deal," Towson coach Tony Seaman said. "The seniors have been through so much, and I told them to enjoy this. There's only four teams practicing right now. The rest of the flock is so young, they think it's a birthday party."

There was no fear in the Tigers, who scored more goals than any other opponent had produced against Maryland this year.

Towson stood toe-to-toe with third-seeded Maryland (13-3), exchanging vicious body checks in a contest that was as physical as advertised. The Tigers got the best of goalkeeper McGinnis, widely seen as the best in the nation. They sprinted out to a 5-1 first-quarter lead - with three goals from Josh Tankersley - only to watch that lead shrink to 5-4 after surrendering three goals in 25 seconds.

They eventually lost that lead in the third quarter and trailed 11-10 with a minute left.

Then the Tigers, who had gone scoreless in the fourth period, brushed off the Terps with a sequence that is typical of Towson's magical season. First, midfielder Hunter Lochte took a behind-the-net pass from Campbell and fired an 8-yard shot past McGinnis to tie the score at 11 with 44 seconds left.

On the ensuing faceoff, long-stick midfielder Danny Cocchi dug out a loose ball some 50 yards from the goal and found defenseman Neil Adams running free down the middle of the field. Adams fed midfielder Ryan Obloj, who drew a double team and passed to Campbell.

Campbell faked McGinnis out of position, then scored his 50th goal of the season, a school record.

"As soon as Danny picked up the ball, Neil came down with it and everything fell into place. We had our fast break just the way we wanted it," said Campbell, who led the Tigers with four goals and one assist.

Maryland, which scored the first three goals of the second half to erase Towson's 8-6 halftime lead, failed to protect one-goal leads on three occasions after the break. The Terps took their final lead with 8:07 left, when senior attackman Andrew "Buggs" Combs scored his 50th goal of the season, only the second Maryland player ever to do so.

"We started slowly. I don't know if it was the two-week layoff or whatever, but we sure weren't sharp," said Maryland coach Dick Edell, referring to the Terps' first-round bye. "We did a good job of playing ourselves back into the game. But when the time came at the end of the game, Towson got it done and we didn't."

NOTE: Edell scoffed at rumors that he was stepping down after this, his 18th season at Maryland. "I fully intend to sign a contract to return to coach the team in 2002," he said.

Men's lacrosse

Division I semifinalsWhen: Saturday

Where: Rutgers University, Piscataway, N.J.


Syracuse (12-2) vs. Notre Dame (14-1), noon

Towson (14-3) vs. Princeton (12-1), 3 p.m.

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