In the middle of its men's lacrosse season opener at Loyola yesterday, 12th-ranked Towson University was searching for a spark, and junior midfielder Brian Vetter delivered it.
Vetter scored a game-high four goals, including three in the second half, to lead the visiting Tigers to a come-from-behind, 9-8 victory before 1,492 at Geppi-Aikens Field. The victory was Towson's third straight over its Charles Street rival, and it dropped Loyola to 0-2.
After taking a 2-0 lead before the Greyhounds had touched the ball, Towson weathered a five-goal outburst in the first quarter that put Loyola in front 5-3.
After that, Towson gradually gained control of the contest. Its defense, blending man-to-man with a matchup zone, disrupted Loyola throughout the second half. Junior goalie Matt Antol stepped up after an unsteady start to make 11 of his 13 saves after the first quarter, including several on point-blank shots.
And its offense, led by Vetter, combined enough good set plays with some scores in unsettled situations to pull the Tigers through.
"[Vetter] is a tough kid and a great athlete. If he shoots the ball on cage, he's really good. You can't take the ball away from him, and he takes a beating," said Towson coach Tony Seaman, who also watched Vetter lead the Tigers' successful effort to hold the ball for the game's final four minutes with a one-goal lead.
Vetter practically did it all yesterday. He picked up a loose ball and scored from 8 yards away up top to cut Loyola's lead to 7-6 with 7:45 left in the third quarter. With 5:12 remaining in the quarter, Vetter dug out another loose ball and scored from 14 yards out to tie the game at 7.
Then, a little more than three minutes after senior midfielder Nick Williams - sprawled in front of the Loyola goal - sent a follow-up shot past Loyola sophomore Alex Peaty (12 saves) to give Towson an 8-7 edge with 10:10 left in the game, Vetter struck again.
Junior attackman Jonathan Engelke found Vetter alone in the crease for an easy goal and a 9-7 lead with 6:59 left.
The Greyhounds, hoping to get off to a good start with a senior-laden team after nearly making their first NCAA tournament since 2001 last spring, were left to wonder how this one got away.
Loyola wasted a strong effort from senior Dan Kallaugher, who won 14 of 19 faceoffs, and a two-goal, three-assist day by senior attackman Patrick Kennedy. Its defense stuffed the Tigers on four of five extra-man chances. The Greyhounds got off 36 shots to Towson's 32.
Yet, all the Greyhounds had to show for it was one goal in each of the final three quarters.
"We played well in the first quarter, but in the second, third and fourth quarter, it seemed like the closer they [Towson] get, the tighter we get," Loyola coach Charley Toomey said. "I didn't feel we had a lot of composure out there. Right now, we're a team that just doesn't know how to win."
Loyola senior attackman Dan Bauers, who was stopped twice inside by Antol in the second half, finished with two goals.
Towson sophomore midfielder Randall Cooper had two goals and one assist.
Towson 17, American 7 -- Sophomore attack Meggie McNamara had five goals and two assists to lead the host Tigers over the Eagles (1-1) in the Tigers' season opener. The Tigers scored six of the final seven goals in the game, including a goal by senior attack Shannon Witzel with 6:39 left, which moved her into second place on the Tigers' career scoring list. Towson won its season opener for the fifth straight time. The victory also was its eighth in the nine meetings with the Eagles.
No. 14 Hofstra 13, Loyola 8 -- Senior midfielder Becky Thorn had four goals and two assists to lead the visiting Pride over the Greyhounds in the season opener for both firstname.lastname@example.org
Staff reports contributed to this article.