By Tim Klapac, Senior Editor
photo by Brendan Felch/ The Towerlight
Towson’s dream season came to an abrupt end in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. At a rainy Johnny Unitas Stadium, the Tigers (11-5, 4-1 CAA) fell to in-state rival Maryland 14-13 in overtime.
“These are the ones that hurt the most,” said Head Coach Shawn Nadelen. “I’m proud of our team, proud of this senior class for what they’ve done throughout the entire course of the year, not just this season, but from the start in the fall.”
In a streaky game, both teams would go on multiple runs of unanswered goals, meaning no lead was ever safe. Nadelen credited Maryland (12-4, 3-2 Big Ten) for their ability to adjust and respond praised his team for doing the same.
“It was a bit of a boxing match, exchanging blows,” Nadelen said. “We had some lulls in our play, both offensively and defensively, and they capitalized, then we created opportunities and we capitalized.”
After falling behind 3-1 in the first quarter, Towson scored six straight goals, including two each from junior attack Brody McLean and senior midfielder Grant Maloof.
The Terrapins would respond with two goals to cut the Tigers’ lead to 7-5 at halftime. In the second half, it was more of the same with each team tallying three goals in the third quarter.
In the fourth quarter, Maryland scored four consecutive goals to take a 12-10 lead, but Towson responded yet again, scoring three straight, including the go-ahead goal from senior attack Brendan Sunday with 1:50 remaining.
On the ensuing faceoff, senior midfielder Alex Woodall did what he’s known for, winning battles at the dot, grabbing the faceoff and gaining a key possession for the Tigers.
“Kid’s a warrior, he shouldn’t have been out there but he chose to be out there,” Nadelen said. “He wasn’t gonna let his senior year not end on his terms.”
Despite winning the faceoff, Towson couldn’t convert an insurance tally, giving the Terps the ball back with less than 30 seconds to play.
“I felt like I could’ve probably done a better job getting a better shot,” Sunday said. “But, we didn’t, we left them too much time on the clock.”
Maryland would take advantage of the opportunity, sprinting downfield and tying the game with three seconds left on the clock, sending the game into overtime.
In the extra period, the Tigers won another crucial faceoff, but turned the ball over on a deflected pass in the offensive zone.
“Exclusively in the fourth, we were behind and I was dodging that kid, so I assumed I was gonna get a quick double and that’s why I moved it and they got a nice little stick on it, unfortunately.” Sunday said.
The Terps took that turnover and scored on the ensuing possession to win the game and advance to the second round.
“It’s tough, I love all the guys on our team, especially our senior class,” Sunday said. “No one ever wants to leave after you lose, it’s tough sometimes.”
The loss brings an end to a season that saw Towson return to the top of the Colonial Athletic Association and host an NCAA Tournament game for the first time since 2005.
“We had a great four years here, we went through it all. The final four in 2017, a pretty terrible year in 2018 and a remarkable turnaround this year,” Sunday said. “This year is probably the year I’m most proud of, we stuck together and this is what a true family is all about. This is a year I’ll never forget and I’ll always be grateful for it.”