Towson's women's lacrosse team suffered its lone Colonial Athletic Association loss this season to Drexel, but that gave the Tigers plenty of motivation to pay the Dragons back with a 10-8 victory in Thursday night's CAA tournament semifinal at Johnny Unitas Stadium.
Looking for their third CAA title in four years, the Tigers (11-6) advance to meet No. 10 James Madison — which defeated William & Mary, 11-9, in Thursday's other semifinal — in the championship game Saturday at 5 p.m. at Johnny Unitas Stadium.
The Tigers, who started the season 1-4, fell 7-5 to Drexel on April 8, but they finished with five straight conference wins, including two in overtime. They had beaten the Dragons 17 straight times before that loss, so the Tigers were happy to draw Drexel in the tournament opener.
"It was a bummer to lose to them in season play," Towson attacker Jess Dunn said, "but it was awesome to have a second chance to play them in CAA. It was awesome motivation — the only team we lost to and now we're playing them again."
The Tigers started off with two goals but played inconsistently the rest of the half, allowing Drexel four goals on four shots with Towson goalie Mary Teeters facing into the setting sun.
The game featured five ties, but midway through the second half, the Tigers gave themselves a little room to breathe with three straight goals for the largest lead of the game, 9-6, with 12:07 left.
Dunn hit a tough angle to score the first goal. Kelly Murkey then fed Sarah Appelt, who slipped her shot between Drexel's goalie and a defender. Tigers defender Alexa Demski finished off the run, racing most of the field for her first career goal.
"One thing they impressed me on was their fast breaks, which was different than the first time we played them," said Drexel coach Anna Marie Vesco. "They really pushed it. They pushed it hard and they caught us on our heels a little bit."
After the Dragons (9-8) pulled within 10-8 with 3:42 to go, they fired off seven more shots, but Teeters made three saves and the rest went wide. The Dragons outshot the Tigers, 22-21, but 18 of Drexel's shot came in the second half — Teeters saved seven and seven were off the mark.
The CAA tournament winner earns an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament, and Towson is looking for its fourth straight trip, having advanced with an at-large bid last season.