By: Karuga Koinange, Sports Editor
Towson fell to Elon 10-9 in overtime of the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) Tournament semifinals Friday night at Johnny Unitas Stadium, but received an at-large bid to the 2017 NCAA Tournament.
The first half was a back and forth affair. The second seeded Tigers (12-6, 4-3 CAA) struck first on the third seeded Phoenix (13-5, 4-2 CAA) when junior midfielder Emily Gillingham rifled home a free position shot at 25:55.
Elon scored three of the next four goals and took a 3-2 lead with 19:14 to go in the first half, but Towson tied it up down a man when First Team All-CAA sophomore attacker Natalie Sulmonte scored off a feed from senior attacker Samantha Brookhart at 12:35.
Following Sulmonte’s goal, the Phoenix tallied the final three markers of the first half and took a 6-3 lead into the break.
“In the first half we didn’t show enough hunger for the ball on the 50-50 plays,” Head Coach Sonia LaMonica said. “It’s something we’ve been stressing all week long and it’s something we did great in the last contest.”
In the second half, junior attacker Jenna Kerr and Second Team All-CAA sophomore attacker Carly Tellekamp each put in a goal for Towson. Those scores pulled the team to within one score of Elon.
Elon regained a two-goal lead following a strike on a man-up opportunity, but Towson went on a 4-0 run to take a 9-7 lead with 9:55 to play. Gillingham had two goals during the run while Sulmonte recorded a goal and two assists.
Following the Tigers 4-0 run, the Phoenix tied the contest 9-9 and forced a sudden victory overtime period by scoring three unanswered goals.
At the start of the overtime period, the Phoenix won the draw and were fouled by the Tigers. The draw control and foul led the Phoenix to scoring the game-winning goal.
“It hurts now and losing doesn’t feel good, but during these types of games you feel good because there’s adversity and you’re challenged and you really see the fight in your players,” LaMonica said. “That’s special and our team showed that tonight.”
Towson will begin its run in the 2017 NCAA Tournament Friday in College Park, Maryland, against High Point.
High Point finished its season with a 15-3 record and went undefeated in conference the play. The team won the Big South Tournament Sunday with a convincing 19-5 victory over rival Campbell.
Friday’s opening draw is set for 4 p.m. Full coverage on the Tigers Tournament run can be found at thetowerlight.com.