Tigers clinch playoff berth with win over Drexel

April 18, 2010

With a chance to take over the Colonial Athletic Association driver's seat, Towson University used stingy defense to slam the brakes on No. 8 Drexel on Saturday.

The Tigers, who entered the day tied with the Dragons for first place in the conference with two games remaining, held their opponents to two goals over the final 30:08, then scored four straight goals themselves to take command in an 8-7 win before an announced 1,715 at Johnny Unitas Stadium.

"They refuse to lose," Tigers coach Tony Seaman said. "They just hang in there and battle."

Towson (5-5 overall, 3-0 CAA) has a four-game winning streak for the first time since 2006. The Tigers clinched a spot in the conference playoffs and can earn the top seed — and home-field advantage — with a win this week against Penn State.

Midfielders Michael Brashears (Calvert Hall) and Will Harrington (Friends) led the Tigers with two goals each, while attackman Christian Pastirik (St. Mary's) added a career-high five assists — the first time a Towson player has done that since 2002.

Pastirik took the field Saturday wearing No. 1 instead of his usual No. 19, paying homage to Drew Webb, a former teammate at Cornell who died recently.

"He was definitely with us there tonight — every single step," Pastirik said of the 2008 Cornell graduate.

Towson, which now has won 13 of the past 14 games in the series, started this one quickly, breaking on top just five seconds in when Matt Lamon (St. Mary's) finished off a fast break from Ryan DeSmit (Friends).

Despite 19 first-half shots, however, the Tigers time and again came up empty against Drexel goalie Mark Manos, the CAA Rookie of the Year a year ago. The Dragons (9-3, 2-1) then scored three of four goals to close out to the half and got a goal by Andrew Collins to open the second half to build a 6-4 lead.

That's when the Tigers began to assert control, with Carl Iacona's unassisted effort with 7:03 left in the third starting a string of four straight goals by the hosts. When Pastirik came from behind the goal to feed Brock Armour 45 seconds into the fourth, Towson took its first lead since late in the first quarter.

"We had to calm down," Pastirik said. "In the beginning of the game, we were getting our first shots. We realized that we could score and run past the guys, but we had to get it to the second dodge. So we started dodging, dodging, then attacking the backside instead of taking our first shots."

Defense played an equally huge role, with the Tigers holding Drexel scoreless on all five extra-man opportunities and holding the ball for nearly five minutes late in the fourth quarter.

Goalie Travis Love (Winters Mill) then sealed the win by stopping Robert Church's head-high shot from 18 yards out as time expired.

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