Facing 1-5 hole, Virginia digs out to stop Towson in OT, 9-8

Trailing by 3, Cavs rise to 2-4 before Hopkins test

College Lacrosse

March 22, 2004|By Jeff Zrebiec | Jeff Zrebiec,SUN STAFF

What could have been a crushing blow to Virginia's NCAA tournament hopes turned into a frustrating loss yesterday for the Towson men's lacrosse team, which was left to lament a series of untimely penalties and turnovers.

Cavaliers sophomore attackman Matt Ward's high shot beat Towson goalie Reed Sothoron at the 3:30 mark of the first overtime, giving No. 16 Virginia a 9-8 victory over the 19th-ranked Tigers before 2,532 at Minnegan Field at Johnny Unitas Stadium.

A loss - and the reigning national champions trailed 5-2 at halftime and were struggling to beat Sothoron and the Tigers' zone defense - would have been a fifth straight for the Cavaliers (2-4), who haven't lost that many in a row since 1966. The losing streak was magnified with top-ranked Johns Hopkins heading to Charlottesville, Va., on Saturday.

"Coach said try not to emphasize that, but players definitely knew that 1-5 is a hole that you can't get out of," said Ward, who had fired 10 shots on Sothoron before beating him in regulation for an 8-7 Cavaliers lead with 10:59 to go and then again in overtime.

Ward's game-winner, off a feed from Kyle Dixon, came after Virginia's Jack deVilliers out-dueled Ben DeFelice on the opening faceoff of overtime.

"I told [defenseman] Brett Hughes after the game, `Geez, this is Towson in March,'" said Cavaliers coach Dom Starsia. "It feels like a playoff win. We needed to do something to have some genuine confidence, and I think coming back and winning, it certainly is a step in the right direction."

Virginia, led by Joe Yevoli's four points and John Christmas' three assists, got some help from the Tigers (1-3), who turned the ball over 25 times and missed eight clearing chances.

After the Tigers' Steve Mull finished a feed from Alex Fountain to give Towson a 6-4 edge at the 11:17 mark of the third quarter, Virginia closed the quarter with three consecutive goals to take a 7-6 lead.

Two of those goals - one by Newton Gentry and the other by Matt Poskay - came on extra-man situations after Towson players were sent off for unnecessary roughness.

"They got the man-up goals in the second half and we didn't," said Tigers coach Tony Seaman, whose team was 0-for-6 on extra-man chances. "That was the difference."

Still, the Tigers, who tied the game at 8 on Peyton Chane's goal with 7:51 to play, had their chances, mainly because of Sothoron.

Pulled in the second half of last Saturday's loss to Maryland, the junior made a career-high 18 saves and was good enough to overshadow Virginia's All-American goalie Tillman Johnson, who was sharp in making 15 saves.

"The kid at the other end was terrific," said Starsia. "You felt like you're never going to score."

On Ward's overtime clincher, he barely sneaked it over Sothoron's right shoulder.

"I don't think that last one was a great shot," said Seaman, whose team got two goals each from Bobby Griebe and Brian Myers. "We'll give that one up most of the time, but it just got by."

Virginia 1 1 5 1 1 - 9

Towson 3 2 1 2 0 - 8

Goals: V-Yevoli 2, Dixon 2, Ward 2, Poskay 2, Gentry; T-Myers 2, Griebe 2, Pfarr, Mull, Chane, Cunningham. Assists: V-Christmas 3, Yevoli 2, Dixon, Thompson; T-Fountain 2, DeFelice, Florio, Mull, Obloj, Pfarr. Saves: V-Johnson 15; T-Sothoron 18.

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