Mike Preston: For Towson men’s lacrosse, playing ‘well enough to win’ is not enough | COMMENTARY

Towson University men’s lacrosse coach Shawn Nadelen will make the tradeoff, at least right now if the outcome is favorable.

The Tigers dominated visiting Stony Brook for most of Saturday’s game but were barely able to leave with a 9-8 victory before an announced crowd of 850 at Johnny Unitas Stadium.

Towson (7-3, 3-0 Coastal Athletic Association) has won three straight and four of its past five games, but Saturday’s effort won’t get the Tigers deep into the NCAA Division I Tournament against better and more accomplished opponents.

“It’s not that we played well, but we played well enough to win,” Nadelen said. “Shot selection, shot location, we were a little selfish at times. We just weren’t grooving on offense as much as we have as far as moving off the ball, moving the ball and being aggressive with our dodges.”

Towson outshot Stony Brook, 47-30, and won 16 of 20 faceoffs, which is a good combination for dominance. The Tigers also cleared the ball on 20 of 21 attempts, but they couldn’t put the pesky Seawolves (3-7, 1-2) away until the final seconds.

Towson led 9-6 with 2:49 remaining in the game, but Stony Brook long-stick midfielder Christian Lowd scored with 1:12 left, and midfielder Noah Armitage scored an extra-man goal with 41 seconds to go.

Stony Brook won the ensuing faceoff and either hit the crossbar or goalie Luke Downs’ helmet in the following seconds. To add more excitement, Tigers defenseman Colby Barsz was called for a 30-second holding penalty with 16 seconds left.

Senior attackman Dylan Pallonetti took the last shot for the Seawolves, but it sailed to the right of the goal and Stony Brook couldn’t get off a shot in the final four seconds. Pallonetti was a force, finishing with five goals.

“It’s a tough position to be in,” said Downs, who played well and finished with eight saves. “But I trust everybody in front of me to make a stop. When they take those inside shots on you, you just have to get your body in front of the ball to make a save.”

Towson had trouble with Stony Brook’s defense, which was compact inside like a zone. The Seawolves forced the Tigers to pass the ball on the perimeter on the outside.

Stony Brook also doubled or shaded toward Towson sophomore midfielder Mikey Weisshaar (the team’s second-leading scorer with 26 goals and 11 assists) when he touched the ball, and that created more problems for the Tigers.

Towson had no crease game. Stony Brook goalie Tommy Wilk played well and finished with 15 saves. Weisshaar (Archbishop Spalding) had two goals to lead Towson and seven other players chipped in a goal.

“Their goalie was good but we didn’t challenge him enough,” Nadelen said. “When we did, we got some good looks. We had some opportunities with some of our offensive sets to force them to slide, but we didn’t have enough recognition. But when we did, we had some good looks. We lacked some aggressiveness at times, but we did show poise at the end.”

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The Tigers dominated the first half but could only manage a 5-3 lead at the end of two quarters. Towson won all nine faceoffs in the first half and outshot Stony Brook, 27-16, but the Tigers’ shot selection was poor.

They took shots from bad angles, or rushed opportunities. Wilk had 10 saves, five in each of the first and second quarters.

Towson attackman Joaquin Villagomez scored the game’s first goal and the only one of the first quarter with 12:53 left.

The Tigers scored the next two goals, one each from attackman Bode Maurer and midfielder Josh Webber, to take 3-0 lead with 11:20 left in the second quarter. But Pallonetti scored twice in the next four minutes to cut the lead to 3-2.

After the teams traded goals over the next two minutes, Towson midfielder Jamison Gaskins took a long shot that Wilk got a piece of, but it still dribbled through for a goal with 19 seconds remaining to put the Tigers up 5-3 at the half.

Hofstra at Towson

Saturday, noon