May 8, 2010

Hens Win CAA Title; Curtains for Seaman?

by Nelson Coffin | Special to Lacrosse Magazine Online

Delaware goalie and CAA tournament MVP Noah Fossner made 16 saves Saturday in the Blue Hens' 12-9 win over top-seeded Towson.

© Kevin P. Tucker

TOWSON, Md. -- Riding a tsunami-sized emotional wave of support for grieving junior goalie Noah Fossner and the faceoff prowess of Dan Cooney (15-for-20), Delaware grabbed the Colonial Athletic Association men's lacrosse championship from host Towson on Saturday at Johnny Unitas Stadium.

The Blue Hens (10-6) earned a berth in the NCAA tournament with the 12-9 victory, while the Tigers (6-7) were denied their first bid since bowing to Cornell, 14-6,  in 2007.

Delaware rallied behind itsnetminder, whose mother, Elaine Fossner, succumbed to breast cancer just two days before her son recorded 14 saves in a 15-12 win over Drexel in a CAA semifinal. Towson easily handled UMass, 13-6, on the other side of the bracket.

Fossner has been able to somehow average 12.6 saves per game during Delaware's current five-game winning streak despite his mother's death. He finished the championship game with 16 saves and tournament MVP honors.

"I talked over my game with my mom," said Fossner when asked about how he handled the situation near the end of his mom's life. "She told me I should be having fun. But as a 22-year-old kid, to lose the woman who gave you life, it's a big deal all the time, even when you're not thinking about it."

The Tigers also appeared to be jacked up by the thought of avoiding a third consecutive losing season for veteran coach Tony Seaman, reported to be on the hot seat after 12 seasons at Towson with a 96-83 career record.

"I always thought I'd be the one to decide when I'm leaving," said Seaman, whose contract has yet to be renewed. "But I have the best recruiting class I've ever had here offensively, and I'd love to be a part of it. I haven't sat down with [athletic director] Mike [Hermann] or the president [Dr. Robert Caret] yet. So, we'll see where that goes from here. I might be the first [CAA] coach of the year to be let go."

Regardless of their motivation, the Tigers jumped out to a 3-1 advantage on goals by sophomore attackman Matt Lamon, freshman attackman Matt Hughes and senior middie Will Harrington in the first quarter before the Blue Hens came at them like a freight train, scoring eight of the next nine goals. Three of those were by conference player of the year Curtis Dickson, who now boasts 62 goals (and 13 assists) this season and a program-best 162 in an outstanding career after a five-goal performance.

Although Towson made it close in the fourth quarter, it was Fossner who would not allow the Tigers to draw almost even. Trailing 11-9, Towson senior attackman Christian Pastirik caused a turnover, scooped a groundball and fired to a wide-open Tim Stratton on the Blue Hen doorstep with 2:02 remaining.

"I might be the first [CAA] coach of the year to be let go," said Towson's Tony Seaman, whose contract has yet to be renewed.

© Scott Thornton

Fossner, though, refused to fall for any of Stratton's several fakes before turning the shot away.

"That's a save that kid will never forget," Seaman said. "Tim Stratton will never forget it either. And I'll remember it until I'm in the grave."

Fossner said he was undecided whether to go out of the crease to challenge Stratton or bide his time.

He waited — and is glad he did.

"I saw him set his feet," the Niskayuna (N.Y.) product said. "And that gave me time to set my feet, too. I went with his fakes and got a piece of it."

Junior midfielder John Austin's empty-net goal with 1:05 remaining sewed up the title for the Blue Hens, who owned the ground-ball war, 40-22, and won 16 of 23 faceoffs.

Delaware coach Bob Shillinglaw, who guided the Blue Hens to a national semifinal in 2007 and has coached in more games than anyone in collegiate history, put in a good word for Seaman at the end of his press conference.

"Tony Seaman has been good for Towson, good for the sport of lacrosse and good for the kids," he said. "And you can't ask for more than that."

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