Tony Seaman knows exactly how Rick Sowell feels.
On April 27, 1996, Seaman watched as his Johns Hopkins men's lacrosse team, which was ranked No. 5 in the country, was upended by Towson, 13-12. So Seaman, now the head coach at Towson, could empathize with Sowell, who was forced to watch his No. 4 Stony Brook squad get upset by the host Tigers, 9-8, before 1,323 at Johnny Unitas Stadium in Towson on Saturday.
"I was the coach of that team in '96 that Towson beat," Seaman recalled. "This feels a lot better."
The win was especially uplifting for the Tigers, who were still smarting from Tuesday night's 14-11 loss to Navy. The victory — Towson's first against a top-five opponent at home since defeating No. 1 Loyola on April 4, 1992 — helped the team snap a two-game losing skid and improve to 2-4.
Reaching that outcome wasn't easy. After taking an 8-5 lead into halftime, the Tigers scored just one more goal in 30 minutes of play. Meanwhile, the Seawolves (3-2) scored three consecutive times in the fourth quarter, including an offering from senior midfielder Kevin Crowley that ripped the top right corner with 12 seconds remaining in regulation.
The scenario revived memories of the final 13 seconds of the second quarter when Stony Brook junior midfielder Robbie Campbell converted two Crowley passes in a span of 11 seconds to shave a five-goal deficit down to three at intermission.
But Towson junior long-stick midfielder John Kenyon disrupted Crowley's shot attempt with a trail check, and time ran out before the reigning National Player of the Year could re-load.
"He landed a check on my stick," Crowley said. "It just gave me that little hesitation to wonder if I still had it, and that's the split second that it took. I hesitated and he got another check on me when I was trying to bring it up front, and that was the game."
The Tigers outperformed the visitors in the first half, collecting seven more ground balls, forcing six more turnovers, and taking eight more shots. That allowed the offense to test senior goalkeeper Rob Camposa, who faced 18-of-29 on net.
"It's a lot better than we've been doing in the past," said sophomore attackman Matt Hughes, who scored a team-high three goals. "It just shows that we've been working hard in practice and trying to get shots on goal. We're not trying to look so pretty as much as we used to. We all used to be a bunch of prima donnas, and we'd go and try to look nice. But now we're starting to hit the cage a little bit more and not worry about how we shoot or what it looks like."
On the flipside, Towson senior goalie Travis Love turned away 12 shots, including eight in the second half. And senior defenseman Marc Ingerman limited senior attackman Tom Compitello, the quarterback of a Seawolves offense that had been averaging 11.5 goals per game, to a lone assist.
"[Defensive coordinator and associate head] Coach [Shawn] Nadelen and the rest of the coaches said he's a stocky lefthander, and he's just really looking to come back to the left hand," Ingerman said. "I just kind of sat on it and played him from there. You saw him put the stick in his right hand, but at X or a step beyond, he was bringing it back [to his left hand]. I tried to play disciplined, and it worked out."
As expected, the Tigers lost the faceoff battle, but Stony Brook senior Adam Rand, who won 13-of-21, was unable to win many faceoffs cleanly and start fast breaks.
Seaman credited redshirt sophomore Ian Mills, who won 8-of-17 faceoffs, with impeding Rand's progress.
"He killed us last year, and he killed us this year, too," Seaman said. "But we wanted to defend him so that he couldn't get a break. We didn't want to give up a fast-break goal because of him facing off. So what we did was, we made him go backwards all day long, and Ian Mills did a really good job of that."
The Seawolves won't get much time to lick their wounds with No. 10 Cornell slated to visit on Tuesday night, but Sowell said the team will have to make some adjustments quickly.
"They had a great game plan, and they executed it," he said. "I could talk about maybe some of the things we didn't do to win the game, but you've got to give credit to them. They did what they needed to do to win the game."