Towson's push topples Loyola, 7-5

3-goal run lifts Tigers

turnovers hurt 'Hounds

College Lacrosse

February 27, 2005|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,SUN STAFF

Towson University was on the verge of dropping the game, despite controlling most of it, but the visiting Tigers regrouped down the stretch yesterday, finally solved Loyola goalie Michael Fretwell and left the Greyhounds fuming.

In the men's lacrosse season opener for both teams, Towson junior attackman Kyle Fiat, a walk-on who earned a starting spot, produced his first Division I goal with 2:42 left.

That go-ahead score helped the Tigers come from behind with three unanswered goals over the final eight minutes to earn a 7-5 victory before 2,167 at chilly Geppi-Aikens Field.

For Towson, it was a lesson in persistence. The Tigers had the ball seemingly all day, either by dominating the faceoff game - sophomore midfielder Matt Eckerl won 11 of 15 draws - or by pouncing on Loyola's sloppy clears and other, unforced mistakes.

And Towson, which had seven different players score, peppered Fretwell from the outset. Yet not even a heroic, 19-save effort by the junior from St. Mary's High could save Loyola, which could barely generate any offense on its home field.

"We didn't put the ball in the goal as much as we would have liked. I thought their goalie played real well," said Towson coach Tony Seaman, who watched the Tigers commit seven penalties and fail to convert on seven of eight extra-man scoring opportunities.

Towson, which outshot the Greyhounds by a 41-26 margin, nearly let the game slip away after turning a 3-2 halftime lead into a 4-2 advantage on an unassisted goal by junior midfielder Steve Mull (Fallston) with 9:23 left in the third quarter.

The Greyhounds suddenly came alive and took the lead with a three-goal run. First, after a turnover by the Tigers, Loyola junior defenseman Steven Hess led the fast break and beat Towson senior Reed Sothoron (seven saves) to cut the lead to 4-3 with 5:16 to go in the period.

Just under one minute later, sophomore midfielder Cory Coff- man scored to tie it at 4. Then, nearly five minutes into the fourth quarter, the Greyhounds capitalized on a slashing penalty, one of eight flags on Towson, when senior attackman Pat Shek scooped up a rebound after a great save by Sothoron and made the follow-up shot count.

But, with 10:19 left in the contest, Loyola had reached its high-water mark for the day. The Greyhounds blew another extra-man chance shortly after that by committing a turnover, and Towson sophomore attackman Bobby Griebe made them pay by tying the score again with 8:03 left. That set the table for the game-winner.

After a kick save by Fretwell, Mull tracked down the loose ball near the end line, beat one defender, then found Fiat cutting to the goal. His point-blank shot with 2:42 to go put Towson back on top to stay.

"Steve beat his man and was kind of running away from me, and I made my cut to him," said Fiat, who transferred from Utah State last fall. "It's easy to finish when you get a pass like that."

Loyola coach Bill Dirrigl, whose team is seeking its first NCAA tournament berth since 2001, was left shaking his head, disgusted at the way the Greyhounds failed to take proper care of the ball.

"When you continue to give the [opponent] the ball and you don't face off as well as your opponent, you put yourself under a lot of pressure, and we felt pressure all day," Dirrigl said. "We care. We hustle. But we have to learn to execute. Our margin for error is very small."

Towson 1 2 1 3 - 7

Loyola 2 0 2 1 - 5

Goals: T - Bacon, Mull, Engelke, Griebe, Vetter, Fiat, Batton. L - Spack 2, Shek, Hess, Coffman. Assists: T - Bacon, Cittadino, Mull, Obloj. L - Bauers, Georgalas. Saves: T - Sothoron 7. L - Frettwell 19.

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