Towson University scored five unanswered goals in the third period to take control of the game en route to a comfortable 13-6 victory over No. 17 Massachusetts on Wednesday night in a Colonial Athletic Association men's lacrosse semifinal at Towson.
Towson will host Delaware, which upset No. 10 Drexel, 15-12, in the other CAA semifinal, in the championship game on Saturday at 2:30 p.m.
Towson (7-7 overall, 5-1 conference) beat Delaware, 9-7, earlier this season. The winner of the CAA championship receives an automatic bid to the 16-team NCAA Division I tournament.
"We have a tough job on Saturday, but we knew we had a tough time tonight," Towson coach Tony Seaman said. "Delaware has people who can shoot the ball from everywhere, people who can beat you one-on-one. They are completely different from the team we played tonight."
Attackman Matt Hughes and midfielder Christian Pastirik each had three goals for Towson, while fellow midfielders Will Harrington and Carl Iacona had two goals apiece.
The Minutemen (8-6, 2-4) wasted little time in the third quarter, scoring in the first five seconds on a goal from attackman Steve D'Amario to cut Towson's lead to 5-4, but they wouldn't score again until there were 26 seconds left in the game.
Towson answered D'Amario's goal 50 seconds later when Harrington beat Tom Celentani to the right of the crease. And then the rout was on.
Junior attackman Tim Stratton scored after picking up a ground ball 30 yards away from the goal, and Pastirik made it 8-4, scoring from behind the goal with 5:13 left in the period. Hughes scored again about a minute later, and Pastirik scored on an extra-man opportunity to close out the scoring in the third period as Towson went ahead 10-4.
The Minutemen hurt themselves with 16 turnovers in the first three quarters.
"I thought we took control of the game when we answered their goal early in the third quarter," Seaman said. "We came right back and got one. Then Travis Love made about three or four saves, and I never thought they could come back on us."
Massachusetts took a 1-0 lead as freshman attackman Will Manny came from behind goal and took a pass from D'Amario to score with 7:30 left in the first period. Nearly 90 seconds later, Massachusetts senior midfielder Bobby Hayes scored on a runner down the left side that should have been an easy save for Love.
The Tigers rebounded with a goal from Hughes with 3:55 remaining as Hughes beat Minutemen defender Travis Tripucka outside the crease one-on-one.
Towson and Massachusetts took nine shots in the quarter, and the Minutemen selected their shots better, but in the second quarter that started to change. Towson midfielder Carl Iacona beat two Massachusetts midfielders just outside the box and then scored on a long shot with 13:32 left in the second period. Nearly a minute later, Hughes, in another isolation move, beat Brett Newgaard on the right of the goal for a 3-2 Towson lead.
Massachusetts tied the score at 3 when Hayes found junior midfielder Ryan Liebel cutting down the middle of the defense for a goal with 12:46 left, but Towson controlled the tempo during the rest of the period.
Harrington scored from 20 yards out with 7:53 left, and Iacona beat Mike Fetterly on a long run from midfield to score with 5minutes left. The Minutemen outshot Towson 10-7 in the second quarter, but the Tigers won the one-on-one battles. Massachusetts goalie Tim McCormack had nine saves in the first half.
Love finished with 11 saves, and Seaman said he has to have another strong game against Delaware. When asked whether this win gave the Tigers momentum going into the championship game, Seaman just shook his head.
"Yes," said a smiling Seaman, whose job has been in jeopardy the past two seasons, "and it means I have a job for three more days."
UMass 2 1 1 2 — 6
Towson 1 4 5 3 — 13
Goals: M—D'Amario, Fleming, Hayes, Liebel, Manny, Rushing; T—Hughes 3, Pastirik 3, Harrington 2, Iacona 2, J.Lamon, M.Lamon, Stratton. Assists: M—D'Amario, Fetterly, Hayes, Toresco; T—Armour, Hughes, M.Lamon, Stratton. Saves: M—McCormack 12, Mahle; T—Love 11, Wheeler 0.