No. 9 Nittany Lions Stopped by Towson 11-10 in CAA Final
May 3, 2013
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Top-seeded and ninth-ranked Nittany Lion men's lacrosse tried to overcome a three-goal deficit in the fourth quarter, but the rally fell short in an 11-10 loss to Towson on Friday in the CAA Final at Penn State Lacrosse Field. Freshman TJ Sanders (Orillia, Ont.) tallied three goals to pace Penn State, which had its 10-game win streak come to an end.
Junior Steven Bogert (Carlsbad, Calif.), junior Shane Sturgis (Downingtown, Pa.) and senior Danny Henneghan (Beverly Hills, Mich.) were all named to the CAA All-Championship Team. Penn State will have to wait until Sunday to learn its NCAA Tournament fate. The selection show is set for 9 p.m. on ESPNU.
Towson (10-7) used a stingy defense to hold Penn State (12-4) scoreless for 27:29 between the second, third and fourth quarters. During that span, Towson turned a 6-4 deficit into a 9-6 lead with 13:19 left in the fourth quarter. The Tigers were able to hold on for their fourth CAA Championship title and first since 2007.
During the 5-0 Towson run, the Tigers received two goals from Andrew Hodgson and Greg Cuccinello each, while Justin Mabus tallied another. Sanders stopped the run with 12:49 left in the fourth quarter to cut the lead to 9-7.
Momentum seemed to swing in Penn State's favor, but a save by Andrew Wascavage (12 saves) started a fast break opportunity as Matthew Hughes finished Dan Livingston's dish for a 10-7 Towson lead with 6:51 remaining. Wascavage was named the championship's most outstanding player.
Penn State and Towson each traded goals again, as Sturgis netted a man-up goal with 4:31 remaining and Thomas DeNapoli scored for the Tigers with 2:33 to go. Sturgis responded 29 seconds later to get PSU within two at 11-9.
The Nittany Lions won the ensuing faceoff as Nick Dolik (Bloomfield Hills, Mich.) was tripped, putting PSU on the man-up again. Penn State converted on a laser from Sanders, assisted by Gavin Ahern (Rockville Centre, N.Y.) with 1:42 left.
Penn State won the next faceoff as well, but a Pat Manley (Arnold, Md.) left-winged effort was saved with 49 seconds remaining as Wascavage covered up. The Tigers cleared into their attacking end, ending Penn State's comeback change.
PSU led in most of the major statistical categories: shots were 35-32, ground balls were 33-21 and faceoffs were 19-5. Henneghan picked up a game-high eight ground balls along with a season-high 19 faceoff wins. Penn State's extra-man offense was perfect, going 2-for-2, while holding Towson 0-for-2. PSU has killed off the last nine penalties over the past four games.
Penn State found itself behind most of the game as TU took a 2-0 lead on shots goals from DeNapoli and Cuccinello. Jack Forster (Jenkintown, Pa.) cut the lead in half on a dodge, sending a low-angled shot past Wascavage with 9:28 left in the first quarter.
Kyle VanThof (Penfield, N.Y.) brought Penn State even with Towson with a run down the middle and shooting a shot into the left side of the net with 6:56 left in the first. Henneghan flipped the faceoff back to Bogert who raced down the field and scored his first career goal just 14 seconds after the VanThof tally as PSU led 3-2.
DeNapoli would tie the game with 2:05 left before the Tigers scored a buzzer beater from Matt Hughes for a 4-3 lead after one quarter.
In the second, Penn State equalized in transition as Austin Kaut (Morton, Pa.) made a save, sent the outlet pass to Tom LaCrosse (Canandaigua, N.Y.) before dishing to Forster for the short-ranged shot just 67 seconds into the frame. Forster ended the game with two goals to bring his career total to 103, good for sole possession of third all-time at PSU.
Penn State took the lead with 11:11 remaining in the second as Sanders tallied his first goal of the day, an eight-yard rocket following a pass from Manley. Less than a minute later, Ahern caught a Kyle Zittel (Eden, N.Y.) offering and whipped his fifth goal of the year for Penn State's largest lead of the game at 6-4. Ahern posted a season-high three points on the afternoon behind his goal and two assists.
The Nittany Lions finished a victory shy of tying the program record for consecutive wins (11, 1991-92). Penn State also had its three-game win streak over Towson snapped. The Tigers, who went 4-2 during CAA play, avenged both losses by defeating second-seeded Drexel on Wednesday before downing Penn State.
Penn State was uncharacteristically careless with the ball by committing 15 turnovers, while Towson had 12 turnovers. Each team had nine caused turnovers with JP Burnside (Garden City, N.Y.) and Bogert each forcing a team-high two turnovers for Penn State.
In the CAA Championship, Penn State received quality performances from Bogert (14 ground balls, seven caused turnovers), Sturgis (six goals, one assist), Sanders (five goals) and Henneghan (27-of-45 faceoffs, nine ground balls). Henneghan went 25-for-36 in the last six quarters.
The Nittany Lions will look for their first at-large bid since 2005, from the NCAA selection committee on Sunday. The selection show will be shown live on ESPNU at 9 p.m.