Decker's 8 goals power J. Madison by Towson in CAA showdown, 15-5

Mount de Sales grad helps deal Tigers 1st home loss

April 14, 2004|By Katherine Dunn | Katherine Dunn,SUN STAFF

Towson went into last night's showdown of unbeaten Colonial Athletic Association women's lacrosse rivals against No. 8 James Madison with high hopes.

After all, the No. 17 Tigers are enjoying their best season in years - their first Top 20 ranking since 1997, their best record since 1980 and a chance to qualify for the CAA tournament for the first time.

None of that changed last night, but the Tigers' hopes for a chance to host the conference tournament likely ended when they ran into Gail Decker and the Dukes. Decker, a Mount de Sales graduate, tied her school record with eight goals as the Dukes beat the Tigers, 15-5, on a rainy night at Johnny Unitas Stadium.

Decker scored three straight goals early in the first half to boost the defending CAA champions to a 6-1 lead in the first 14 minutes. The Tigers (9-3, 3-1 conference) never recovered.

The Tigers did pull within 8-4 when Becky Trumbo fed Amy Middleton with 19:07 left in the game. But, the Dukes' Ashlee Dardine snapped that momentum with a free-position goal before Decker scored to run the lead to 10-4.

Decker scored three more times in the Dukes' game-ending, five-goal run.

"She's pretty unstoppable for most defenses," said Towson coach Missy Holmes of the left-handed senior midfielder who became the Dukes' all-time goal-scoring leader last week. Decker now has 174 career goals.

"She can read the play. She can challenge with her head up, so when she gets doubled, it doesn't really faze her; she's ready to find the open person," said Holmes. "She's a complete player and it's hard in team attack to stop a player like that, because she's not just a one-on-one threat."

And the Tigers didn't help themselves by turning the ball over 16 times. Three unforced errors at their attacking end led directly to Dukes goals.

"We were a little excited and we were forcing things a little too much and not playing our game," said Tigers senior attacker Abby Giancola. "It got away from us and we got out-competed the first half. We came out hard the second half, but it still got away from us."

Decker said the Dukes (9-3, 4-0), who lead the series 19-2, were prepared for a Towson rally.

"We were aware that they were down 7-0 against UConn and came back to win," said Decker. "We knew they were capable of coming back and we definitely wanted to put the nail in the coffin early and hold them there."

The Tigers finished 8-1 at Johnny Unitas Stadium in their second season in the CAA. Towson - 1-6 in the league last year - faces a tough weekend on the road against conference foes William & Mary and Old Dominion.

"Every game is a chance to prove how good we are," said first-year coach Holmes. "Our team's done an amazing job of continuing to improve every day from fall to preseason to our games, so we just have to work on continuing to improve."

James Madison 7 8 - 15

Towson 3 2 - 5

Goals: JM-Decker 8, Brownridge 2, McKenzie, Chantler, Martell, Dardine, Buck. T-Marshall 2, Middleton 2, Trumbo. Assists: JM-Berger 2, Brownridge, Chantler, Mckenzie; T-Trumbo 2, Howell, Witzel. Saves: JM-King 8; T-O'Connell 10.

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