The Towson Tigers beat the Hofstra Pride for the second time this year to take the America East Title and Automatic Bid from the pre-season favorites, 13-11. Hofstra will have to sweat it out until Selection Sunday to see if they'll have another game this year. The game went back and forth all day with the lead changing hands several times before Hofstra ran out of gas.
The warriors were wearing their battle scars before the game even started and picked up several more as the day battle raged on. Towson goalie John Horrigan was questionable to start with with a strained shoulder, but managed to play the whole tilt. Face-off specialist/wicked gun/top middie Doug Shanahan was visibly hampered by a bad wheel due to a twisted ankle. His counterpart face-off specialist, Tiger's Justin Berry was so bad by the end of the game due to a pulled "hammy" that he would limp out to take the face and limp back off. Towson would win the face-off battle 17-11, but it was a whole host of players taking them, not just Berry and Shanahan. Hofstra toyed with the idea of playing Shanahan at attack, but the way the game went they couldn't afford to.
Both teams had there good moments as well as bad. At times play looked more like pre-season than postseason, but at others they looked like well oiled machines. The most notable edge Towson had was a true feeder. While Brad Reppert dished out four assists for the Tigers, mostly working from "X", Hofstra lacks that kind of player. Ramar Clash, Tom Kessler, and Scott Dooley are all great attackmen for the Pride, but feeding isn't their strength.
Berry won the opening face clean from Shanahan and started the offense for Towson. After a lengthy possession Brad Reppert working from directly behind the goal hit Josh Cornett standing directly in front of the net for a seven yard bounce shot, 1-0. Hofstra sent Rob Peters out to battle Berry for the next face, but again Berry won it clean. The ball would be worked towards Hofstra's cage, but after a few shots and a save Hofstra cleared and forced a feed to the crease in traffic which sent the ball back. Towson put a lot of pressure on early, but Pride goalie Jack Alaimo kept the score 1-0. Hofstra looked very shakey and didn't get their first shot until Scott Dooley ripped a low one that Horrigan smothered at 8:25 mark. Tom Kessler would later tie the game at 7:23 an a double axel to Horrigan's left. Kessler drove along goal line extended, rolled his man, and then shot lefty behind the back to beat Horrigan. Shanahan took the next draw and won and as Hofstra has done so often this year they turned it into a goal. The ball was moved quickly to Kessler who found Dooley on the doorstep in front of Horrigan. A quick fake high and a shot made it 2-1. The Pride jumped out to a 3-1 lead on a Adam Hananel shot on the run moving from left to right that came in just under the crossbar. Hofstra was given an opportunity to open a gaping wound with a man-up shortly after, but Shanahan's wide shot was blocked by Horrigan and the ball was cleared. Towson came back to make it 3-2 when Josh Tankersly split dodged his man from the top to gain seperation and sprinted to his right to get off an overhand shot that stayed high and found the back of the net. That was one Alaimo would love to have back.
The following minute or so was ugly. A Hofstra attackmen stepped out of bounds while driving behind and then Towson threw a clearing pass out of bounds. Towson pulled it together with 2:15 remaining in the first. Brad Monaco was driving from the low lefty crank area and crease defender Sylvestor Patterson started to slide in his face so he hit Patterson's man behind him on the crease for 1 on 1 with Alaimo. Hofstra regained the lead on great ball movement. The Tigers went into a rotational slide and were effective, but after four quick passes Michael Tierney hit Kessler on the backside for a lefty wrap around tally to Horrigan's left. Towson out-chanced the Pride in the first, but wide shots and great saves by Alaimo were the difference.
With the start of the second quarter Berry was getting worse with his hamstring. Pride defender Sylvestor Patterson started the quarter out on a good note by picking Repperet clean with a nice lift check. At 13:14 Hofstra opened up a 5-3 lead when Horrigan unwisely left the net to fight for a loose ball. Dooley possessed it for Hofstra and fed Kessler in front for empty netter. Towson narrowed the gap when Ryan Obloj had Nicky Polanco hung up in front of the goal from behind. He beat Polanco to the far side as he curled left and beat Alaimo as well, 5-4. Hofstra failed to score on another extra man, but cashed in when longstick Nicky Polanco led a classic right hande fast break. He passed to Ramar Clash at the high right handed crank spot and Clash took a step or two in before bouncing it along the left pipe, 6-4.
The next play may have been the most important play of the game. With the extra man Shanahan dodged threw the middle, but with his stick out in front of him( so he couldn't be back checked) he took a shot. Due too some serious whip in his stick the ball went straight into the turf before bouncing over the goal. Not one, but two Hofstra attackmen were behind the goal and had a ten yard head start on the closest defender in the race for shot possession. Anticipating the ball getting out quicker the Hofstra players pulled up, but the Towson defender (I wish I caught his number) followed through and got possession. On the ensuing clear Towson worked the ball quicly down field to gain numbers on Hofstra. Josh Cornett hit Reppert on Alaimo's doorstep and Reppert buried it, 6-5. Cornett tied the game at six with a split dodge down the right side for a sharp angle shot on the run low to the far left pipe. Between that Man-up debacle and some ill advised outside shots, Hofstra squandered their lead to end the first half.
Hofstra wasn't about to hang their heads and pack it in however. Shanahan led a fast break to open the scoring in the second half. His gimpy sprint down the right side left defenders in the dust. The ball was move across to Clash again, but this time he banged it down to Dooley who finished the play from the low righty spot, 7-6. Hofstra had another man-up, but again Shanahan shot and was denied. Towson would later tie again at 11:32. A Hofstra midfielder cam up with the ball out of a scrum in front of the Pride net and was moving up field before he got tripped. He coughed up the ball to Reppert who quickly moved it cross crease to Brad Monaco for an upper right corner blast, 7-7. Hofstra finally capatalized on a man-up to take the lead back. They used superb ball movement around the horn clockwise from Horrigan's point of view. The ball came around to Jim Femminella standing in Horrigan's face to his right for a quick tally. Hofstra went on the extra man yet again, but this time longstick Neil Adams made mince meat out of Clash relieving him of the ball and clearing it himself.
Adam Hananel was attempting to throw a pass over Brad Monaco, but the riding attackmen snagged it extending his stick and quickly moved it to Reppert for a back breaking type goal, 8-8. Towson then took the lead at 6:14 left in the third. Reppert worked from "X" with some quick studder steps was able to freeze his defender. The instant he got his hands free he found Obloj for quick stick in Alaimo's face, 9-8. In transition longstick Kevin Meyran was able to find Kyle Cambell for another 1 on 1 with Alaimo. Alaimo played great, there's only so much you can do when an attackmen is standing two feet away from you, 10-8.
In the fourth quarter it was Towson's turn to get off to a quick start. Off the face log pole Neil Adams pushed the ball down right side before hitting a cutting Obloj for a jump and a quick stick, 11-8. It was a great pass and only six seconds into the quarter Towson was taking command of this game. Towson middie Hunter Lochte smacked Clash on the head to put Hofstra on the extra man. Hofstra booted the play, but in the scramble out to midfield they got possession back and were able to score in transition. Clash was at the top of the box when he hit Kessler diagonally off to Horrigan's left and Kessler doesn't miss those, 11-9. Reppert struck again with some fancy foot work. He rolled and split back and forth and in an instant coming out of a roll nailed a cutting Obloj for a point blank quick stick, 12-9. It was a nearly impossible play to defend. Reppert would finish the scoring on the day for Towson with a nifty play. With very little angle along goal line extended to the goalies left he froze his defender and Alaimo with a fake pass. He reloaded quickly enough to beat the shifting Alaimo short side high, 13-9. Hofstra looked to get back in when Dooley face dodged his man and scored a bouncer while falling forward, 13-10. Hofstra's Keith Mekeel followed up later with a great shot, but Horrigan was equal to the task. Seconds later Paul Defendini took a penalty for Hofstra and Towson was in position to bury the Pride. Alaimo hung tough making four saves within twenty seconds to keep his team in it. Hofstra got the ball back on offense, but they had no legs so Coach Danowski wisely called timeout with 1:28 to go. They came back out refreshed, but were unable to get anything going until Adam Baxter took a slashing penalty. With 14 seconds to go Shanahan took a right handed shot from the restraining line off to Horrigan's left that hit the left corner so hard that the cage moved back about four inches. It appeared to be off the pipe as the rebound came flying out, but either way it deserved to be counted. The AEC player of the year may or may not play another collegiate game, but what a shot to go out on.
|Brad Reppert||(4, 4)|
|Ryan Obloj||(4, 0)|
|Josh Cornett||(2, 1)|
|Brad Monaco||(1, 2)|
|Kyle Campbell||(1, 1)|
|Kevin Meyran||(0, 1)|
|Neil Adams||(0, 1)|
|Josh Tankersley||(1, 0)|
|John Horrigan||2 (0.154)|