This game featured some interesting matchups, particularly between the top 2 America East goal scorer's, Hofstra's Tom Kessler and Towson's Kyle Campbell. However, the other matchup, and the matchup that would dictate the outcome of the game was between two of the college game's top faceoff men, Hofstra's Doug Shanahan (.658) and Towson's Justin Berry (.613).
Berry won the opening face for the Tigers and the two teams exchanged possessions, feeling each other out and eyeing the D schemes. Towson struck for the first 2 goals of the game, establishing a pattern of multi-goal runs fueled by superior faceoff play. The first came at 12:39 when Hofstra middie Doug Shanahan coughed it up on a clear. Alex Fountain fed Kyle Campbell for the unsettled tally (Campbell was just getting started). Berry won the face and Towson attackman Brad Reppert took advantage of a missed defensive assignment as he dropped one in untouched at 11:54. The Pride finally struck at 8:28 in the 1st when attackmen Tom Kessler fed Scott Dooley on a beautiful cut on EMO. Hofstra's Kessler tied it up a minute later after unsettled play led to a fast break, an inside roll and a dive across the crease. Towson's Ryan Obloj made it 3-2 at 5:29, taking advantage of another missed assignment by Hofstra's D. Towson's ball movement was crisp and purposeful, as no player held it for more than 2 or 3 seconds. The teams exchanged a couple of possessions, with Towson displaying disciplined defense, doubling Kessler and recovering on the weak side before it was exposed. At 1:53, Towson took advantage of another defensive lapse as Kyle Campbell squeaked one by Hofstra's J.P Brazel five hole. This was followed by two more Tiger tallies at 1:21 and :19 as Justin Berry's faceoff dominance began to show itself. Hofstra's Kessler made a sweet feed to Steve McTigue with :04 to go to make it 6-3. This halted some of the Tiger's momentum.
In the second quarter, Hofstra picked up where they left off when Ramar Clash fed McTigue to make it 6-4 at 13:49. Two minutes later, Hofstra's Dooley fed Kevin Dougherty for a 15 yard overhand crank. It looked as if the Pride was beaming back into it, but Towson's Berry took over again winning the ensuing face to lead a fast break that ended with a goal by Obloj, 7-5 Towson. A minute later, Towson defensemen Neil Adams cleared the ball and found himself leading a fast break that ended in Campbell's 3rd goal of the day, 8-5 Towson. Seconds later, Towson's Justin Berry rewarded himself for his hard work on faceoffs sticking one on the run to make it 9-5 Towson. 30 seconds later, after another Berry victory, Campbell made it 10-5 Towson on his fourth goal of the day. Hofstra coach John Danowski called a wise timeout to stop the bleeding, regroup the troops, and save his shaken goalie.
The timeout in the face of the 5 goal deficit proved to be wise, as a rousing speech re-focused the Pride. Shanahan won the face and fed Tom Kessler to make it 10-6. Kessler struck again off a feed from Ramar Clash to make it 10-7. It looked like the momentum was shifting, as Shanahan was winning faceoffs and Hofstra was waiting for shots. But Towson's Brad Reppert drew a double and dished to Campbell who finished calmly on the crease to make it 11-7.
The 1st half ended with Towson on top 11-7 due to the face-off play of Justin Berry and his wingmen Neil Adams and Danny Cocchi. Hofstra's defense and goalie seemed to play tight, missing easy defensive assignments. Hofstra's attack, led by Tom Kessler's quick feet and eye for his teamates kept them in the game. Hofstra coach John Danowski called a wise timeout when his team was bludgeoned by 3 straight goals, but the Tigers were holding serve. The second half gameplan for Towson was simple: keep dominating the face and wait for good shots. For Hofstra: Get the ball to Kessler and stay patient on D.
The 3rd quarter started with another Towson faceoff. They did not convert, and Hofstra struck when Adam Hananel cranked one overhand to beat John Horrigan five hole. Towson answered back at 9:46 after a patient minute and a half possession when Ryan Obloj drove righty from behind and dumped to a wide open Campbell for the quickstick, 12-8 Towson. Another missed defensive assignment by the Pride. At 9:00 to go in the 3rd, a wide open Ramar Clash literally shook the cage after hitting the crossbar with an overhand crank. It drew ooohs from the crowd, but Towson got the ball on O for a two and a half minute possession that resulted in 3 shots and an unassisted goal at 6:44 by Josh Tankersley. Hofstra took a timeout to regroup as the 5 goal deficit was back. Hofstra got the ball, but Clash turned it over on an ill-advised bounce pass. At 4:00, Tankersly knocked Hofstra goalie Brazel out of the game with another unassisted goal, 14-8 Towson. Towson's offense was clicking and picking their spots. As soon as they drove and drew a double they skip-passed to find the open man. Campbell, Lochte, Tankersly, Monaco, Obloj and Reppert were running the offense to their liking. Hofstra's Kessler made it 14-9 off a feed from Shanahan on EMO at :50, but Hofstra did not look sharp enough on D to keep up with the Tigers.
In the 4th quarter Hofstra went on EMO and gave Towson's Horrigan 4 saves for his stat column. After the penalty was killed, Hofstra maintained posession for another minute and a half until finally beating Horrigan at 12:32 when Clash fed a cutting Joe Barile to make it 14-10. This injected a little life into the Pride cheering section. Clash gave them more life after drawing 2 flags on a power iso. Kessler converted the EMO opportunity at 9:20 on a sweet 20 yd bounce shot to make it 14-11. However, the ensuing Berry faceoff and minute and a half Towson possession silenced the crowd. At 7:45, Obloj ended a cat and mouse with his cover when he underhand fed Campbell from behind. Campbell caught it lefty and in one motion, switched hands to avoid the heat and ripped one righty over replacement goalie Michael Bennett's left shoulder. At 6:39, Kessler found a cutting Shanahan to make it 15-12 and the Hofstra band started playing again. But Berry gave his team the ball again off the face. When you hold possession, good things happen as Brad Reppert drew a flag and then converted the EMO to make it 16-12 with 5 and change to go. Hofstra got it on the next possession, but Horrigan made a Shanahan crank and the ensuing clear look easy.
Towson continued to hold serve on offense and defense for the remaining 5 minutes, maintaining possession, and stifling Hofstra's guns, namely Kessler. I saw this team (Towson) give Hofstra heartburn for a half last year and knew they would represent this year. They are a strong, young team and attack with multiple weapons. Towson goalie John Horrigan leads his defense with quick and agile reflexes, and his defense is athletic and patient led by Neil Adams, Adam Baxter, Wesley Speaks and Mike Machiran. Despite Kyle Campbell's masterful crease work and 7 goals, the game ball would have to go to Justin Berry and his faceoff wingmates Neil Adams and Danny Cocchi for dominating the faceoffs and sparking the runs that made the difference.