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Courtesy: CAA

Towson Wins Fourth CAA Men's Lacrosse Championship Title With 11-10 Victory over Penn State

Courtesy: CAA
          Release: 05/03/2013
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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. (May 3, 2013) – Third-seeded Towson withstood a late rally from top-seeded and ninth-ranked Penn State to defeat the Nittany Lions, 11-10, and claim its first Colonial Athletic Association Men's Lacrosse title since 2005 Friday afternoon at Penn State Lacrosse Field.

The Nittany Lions (12-4) outscored the Tigers (10-7), 4-3, in the fourth quarter to try and rally from an 8-6 deficit at the end of the third. The game was tightly contested until late in the second quarter and into the third when the Tigers broke it open with a five-goal run.

Senior goalkeeper Andrew Wascavage led the Tigers in the cage, posting a game-high 12 saves for Towson. Wascavage was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player and was joined by teammates Thomas DeNapoli, Jordan Fortmann and Ben McCarty. Also earning a spot on the All-Tournament team was Penn State's Steven Bogert, Danny Henneghan and Shane Sturgis, Drexel's Robert Church and Nick Suputo and Massachusetts Joe Calvello and Ryan Izzo.

Towson made its first appearance in a CAA final since 2010, when the Tigers fell to Delaware, 12-9. The Tigers earned their fourth CAA title in its ninth appearance at the CAA Tournament. It was head coach Shawn Nadelen's first CAA title.

Sophomore Greg Cuccinello’s second hat trick of the season led the Tigers, to go along with one assist. DeNapoli added two goals and two assists, while senior Matt Hughes scored his fourth and fifth goals in four games.

Penn State freshman TJ Sanders, CAA Rookie of the Year, recorded a hat trick for the Nittany Lions. Senior Jack Forster and junior Shane Sturgis each posted two goals. Goalie Austin Kaut, who was recently named CAA Player and Defensive Player of the Year, made six saves for PSU.

McCarty opened the game’s scoring with his seventh goal in two games off a pass from DeNapoli at 11:10 in the first quarter. The Tigers took a 2-0 lead at 10:25 when sophomore Cuccinello beat PSU’s Kaut middle right.

Penn State struck back with a three-goal run starting at 9:28, getting scores from Forster, Kyle VanThof and Steven Bogert. But DeNapoli cut short the rally with his 40th goal of the season at 2:05. Hughes caused a Penn State turnover, picked up the ground ball and fed it to DeNapoli for the score. Hughes capped the quarter with his seventh goal of the year and, fourth in four games, with one second left.

The Nittany Lions started the second quarter on another three-goal rally when Forster connected with Tom LaCrosse on a fast break at 13:53. Sanders scored at 11:11 and Gavin Ahern followed at 10:18 to give PSU a 6-4 lead.

Junior Andrew Hodgson notched a goal for Towson at 6:59, when Towson worked the ball around the back of the net to Cuccinello who fed Hodgson. He dodged a defender and beat Kaut high to low from 12 yards out. His goal inched Towson to within one, 6-5, and Mabus’ tally at 4:28 pulled the Tigers even, 6-6.

Cuccinello started the third quarter with a bullet at 12:30 to put Towson up, 7-6, before Hodgson scored just over eight minutes later to give the Tigers an 8-6 advantage they carried into the fourth quarter.

The final frame was a wild one, seeing a total of seven goals – four in the final four minutes. Cuccinello posted his final goal of the game at 13:19 from 13 yards out, but the Lions showed they still had some fight when Sanders scored his 41st of the season 45 seconds later. Hughes answered with his second of the game when freshman Dan Livingston cleared the ball and passed to a waiting Hughes right in front of the goal at 6:51. That put Towson up three,10-7.

Towson was whistled for a slash at 4:54 and Penn State capitalized just 24 seconds into the penalty with a Sturgis goal at 4:31 to make it 10-8. DeNapoli posted his 41st of the year at 2:33, unassisted to increase the Tigers’ lead to 11-8. Penn State posted a pair of goals from Sturgis and Sanders, at 2:14 and 1:42, respectively, but the Tigers held off the Nittany Lions the final seconds of the game to clinch the title.

PSU led in most of the major statistical categories: shots were 35-32, ground balls were 33-21 and faceoffs were 19-5. The Nittany Lions was uncharacteristically careless with the ball by committing 15 turnovers, while Towson had 12 turnovers. Each team had nine caused turnovers. Penn State’s extra-man offense was perfect, going 2-for-2, while holding Towson 0-for-2.

The Nittany Lions finished a victory shy of tying the program record for consecutive wins (11, 1991-92) and had their 10-game win streak come to an end. 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.

With the win, the Tigers earned the CAA’s automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament. The nationally-ranked Nittany Lions will look for their first at-large bid since 2005. The selection show will be shown live on ESPNU at 9 p.m. Drexel University, also a CAA member, is a host of the 2013 CAA Men's Lacrosse Final Four at Lincoln Financial Field from May 25-27.