By: Tyler Beard, Staff Writer
A behind-the-back goal from senior midfielder Justin Mabus in the last two minutes of the game helped push Towson past Massachusetts in an 8-7 victory in the CAA Championship.
The win gives Towson (11-5) an automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament, after the team defeated both Drexel (7-8) and Massachusetts (5-10) in the CAA Tournament.
“It’s an awesome feeling and I’m just very proud of our guys,” Head Coach Shawn Nadelen said. “I’m real proud of the team’s ability to respond after two straight losses in the regular season and to come dial it up in the tournament.”
The Tigers held an 8-6 lead in the fourth quarter until the UMass Minutemen rallied and scored two straight goals to tie the game up at 8-8 with less than four minutes left in the game.
Towson held the next offensive possession and almost lost the ball, as it fell to the ground and a scrum broke out for it. Mabus ended up with the ball in front of the goal and whipped a shot behind his back that got past Massachusetts redshirt junior goalie Zach Oliveri for the go-ahead-goal.
“I honestly had the play set up to where it is was supposed to go to Max (Siskind), but I ended up with the ball and the shot just fell in for me,” Mabus said.
This was Mabus’ second goal of the game and his fourth goal of the tournament.
“The play became a scramble for the ball and from what I saw, the ball squirted out and Mabus was able to make it go in for us,” Nadelen said.
Towson outplayed Massachusetts in almost every category, as the team outshot Massachusetts 40-27. Towson also had 27 groundballs as opposed to Massachusetts’s 12 groundballs.
The Tigers also had a huge advantage in possessions due to sophomore midfielder Alec Burckely winning 14-of-20 face-offs in the game.
Sophomore midfielder Joe Seider led the team with three goals and was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player.
Seider’s first goal gave Towson an early 1-0 lead in the first quarter.
Siskind and Mabus scored right after and Towson had quick 3-0 lead.
The Tigers maintained their lead until the third quarter, when the Minutemen tied the game at 5-5 and then scored the go-ahead goal two minutes later.
Sophomore midfielder Mike Lynch tied the game though a few minutes later and senior midfielder Greg Cuccinello scored his second goal of the game to give the Tigers a 7-6 lead at the end of the third quarter. Redshirt junior goalie Tyler White finished with seven saves in the game and was backed behind the Towson defense, which ranks second in the country.
Yesterday on Selection Sunday, broadcast on ESPNU at 9 p.m., Towson learned that it would take on High Point in a play-in game on Wednesday at Johnny Unitas Stadium.
Regardless of who was chosen, Nadelen said the team was just excited to be in the tournament.
“Anyone you face in the tournament is going to be a battle,” he said. “However, you have to put your best on the field and we’ll see where we go from there.”
The winner of Wednesday’s game will advance to play No.1 Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana this Saturday.