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Mike Preston: Towson men’s lacrosse routs Delaware, 15-6, to win CAA title, end NCAA Tournament drought | COMMENTARY

Mike Preston: Towson men’s lacrosse routs Delaware, 15-6, to win CAA title, end NCAA Tournament drought | COMMENTARY

No. 15 Towson men’s lacrosse turned in perhaps its best overall performance of the season Saturday, dominating No. 19 Delaware, 15-6, to win the Coastal Athletic Association Tournament title.

The win before an announced 1,157 at Johnny Unitas Stadium guarantees the Tigers (13-3) a spot in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2019. The selection committee will announce the entire field Sunday night.

It’s the ninth straight win for Towson, which captured its ninth CAA Tournament title and first since 2019. Delaware (9-5) was the No. 2 seed and the two-time defending champion. The teams played April 26, in Newark, Delaware, and the Tigers won, 11-10, to capture the conference regular-season championship.

But Saturday’s game wasn’t even close. Towson had a 9-3 lead at the half and went ahead 14-4 after three quarters. The Blue Hens could only score one goal in first 16 minutes of the second half while Towson scored four straight in the last four minutes of the third quarter to blow open the game.

Junior attackman Bode Maurer led the Tigers with four goals while attackman Chop Gallagher and midfielder Mikey Weisshaar (Archbishop Spalding) each had three. Senior midfielder Nick DeMaio (Maryland) had six assists.

“I am incredibly proud and excited for these guys,” Towson coach Shawn Nadelen said. “They worked for it, they scrapped for it and I’m excited for these guys to earn the championship today. They have had their hearts set on this since Day 1 in the fall.”

Towson dominated in every phase of the game. The Tigers outshot Delaware, 42-27, and won 14 of 24 faceoffs. Delaware committed 24 turnovers and failed on 10 of 25 clears.

The Blue Hens weren’t just sloppy but outhustled and outplayed. The Tigers were more dominant physically from the opening whistle, and maybe that’s why Delaware coach Ben DeLuca decided not to attend his postgame news conference.

“All offensive guys want the ball back, but are they willing to work at it, are they willing to buy in?” Nadelen said. “When you have attackmen and middies who understand why it is important, that’s when you see the shift over. We weren’t careless and we recognized where our strengths are and we worked at good angles.”

A major improvement for the Tigers compared with a year ago is that they have speed, but their ball movement is strong and they handle passes well. The Blue Hens had no counter.

“The offense was moving well and we know we have to play free and away. In those situations, I think that’s when I think I play the best,” Maurer said. “We stayed committed to the process and it opened up some opportunities.”

Towson men's lacrosse attackman Alex Vieni shoots against Delaware in the CAA Tournament championship game May 4, 2024, at Johnny Unitas Stadiun. (John Bowers/Towson Athletics)
Towson attackman Alex Vieni shoots against Delaware in the CAA Tournament championship game Saturday at Johnny Unitas Stadiun. (John Bowers/Towson Athletics)

Towson jumped out to a 3-0 lead with 5:07 left in the first quarter as the Tigers outshot the Blue Hens, 14-9, and won four of six faceoffs. But the most telling issue in the opening frame was Delaware’s inability to clear the ball, as it failed on four of 10 attempts.

Gallagher, on an assist from DeMaio, scored with 7:49 left to put the Tigers up 1-0, and then Bode Maurer scored a goal while cutting across the crease on an assist from DeMaio 17 seconds later.

Maurer beat short-stick midfielder Reed Kurtz for a goal from behind the goal about two minutes later, this time on a quick turnaround post-up move. Delaware freshman attackman John McCurry finally scored for the Blue Hens with 3:26 remaining, but Tigers attackman Alex Vieni closed out the scoring in the period with a low bouncer with 12 seconds remaining.

Delaware midfielder Cam Acchione scored from on top of the crease to cut Towson’s lead to 4-2 in the first two minutes of the second quarter, but Towson answered with two straight goals, including one off a fast break by midfielder Alex Roussel with 5:47 left in the half.

The Tigers scored the last three goals of the second quarter. Gallagher scored on a run from the back of the goal with 3:59 remaining, and midfielder Josh Webber converted on an extra-man opportunity a minute later.

Weisshaar, working a give-and-go with Maurer, scored with five seconds left to push the Tigers’ lead to 9-3 at the half. Towson outshot Delaware, 29-14, in the first two quarters and the Blue Hens’ clearing woes continued as they finished with only eight of 17 conversions.

Towson also took advantage of Delaware’s inability to cover the Tigers with their short-stick midfielders, particularly Maurer, who had three goals in the half.

“This is my 20th year at Towson, and I’ve had some really great times, and some years that weren’t so great,” Nadelen said. “But the senior class set the tone from the very first day in the fall. I just wanted to make sure that I wasn’t the guy that messed it all up.”


NCAA men’s lacrosse selection show

Sunday, 9:30 p.m.

TV: ESPN2

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