May 2, 2009

Towson Edges Hens for Colonial Crown

from press releases

WILLIAMSBURG, Va. - For the first time in Colonial Athletic Association history, a fourth-seeded team has won the conference championship as Towson University (13-5) held off a late comeback from second-seeded University of Delaware (10-8) to win its second straight CAA title with an 8-7 victory in the championship game at Albert-Daly Field on Saturday afternoon.

The Tigers, who won their seventh straight game, will receive an automatic berth into the NCAA® Division I Women's Lacrosse Championship, which begins next weekend. The selections will be announced on Sunday night at 10 p.m. on CBS College Sports.

Junior midfielder Steph Taylor (Cocalico H.S./Denver, Pa.) led the Tigers to the victory with three goals while senior attacker Meggie McNamara (Fayetteville-Manlius H.S./Fayetteville, N.Y.) added a goal with two assists as Towson reached the 13-win mark for the second straight year.  

"This was a great tournament and both teams we faced gave us a good fight each time," Towson Coach Missy Doherty said. "In today's game, the shots weren't falling for us, so the defense had to step up, especially in the second half.

"This year's team is entirely different than last year," Doherty added. "There are different leaders and the team has really come together as a unit. It is not as predictable to see who is going to lead this team."

The teams traded goals twice in the first 11 minutes before junior midfielder Nikki Marcinik (Southern H.S./Deale, Md.) ignited a three-goal run by converting a pass from senior attacker Meggie McNamara (Fayetteville-Manlius H.S./Fayetteville, N.Y.) with 16:12 left. Senior midfielder Britt Woodfield (South Carroll H.S./New Windsor, Md.) and freshman midfielder Katie Cloud (Severna Park H.S./Severna Park. Md.) added goals as the Tigers led by 5-2.

Freshman midfielder Stephanie Allen (Pine Bush H.S./Montgomery, N.Y.) ended a 15-minute scoring drought for the Blue Hens when she scored her second goal of the game, an unassisted marker past freshman goalkeeper Mary Teeters (Centennial H.S./Ellicott City, Md.) with 7:33 remaining.

After a slow start to the second half, the Blue Hens narrowed the deficit to 5-4 with 14:19 remaining when junior midfielder Emily Schaknowski (Shoreham-Wading River H.S./Wading River, N.Y.) scored an unassisted goal past Teeters. But, Woodfield answered with her second goal of the game to give the Tigers a 6-4 cushion with 10:12 remaining.

Taylor upped the Towson lead to 7-4 with her third goal of the game before McNamara scored just 20 seconds later, giving the Tigers a four-goal advantage.

Trailing by 8-4, the Blue Hens began a comeback attempt when Schaknowski converted a pass from sophomore attacker Corinne Drost (Hereford H.S./Parkton, Md.) for her 20th goal of the season with 7:16 left. With 4:50 remaining, sophomore Ali Libertini (Mount deSales Academy/Parkton, Md.) scored an unassisted goal before Drost narrowed the gap to 8-7 with 2:20 remaining.

But, the Tigers held off the Blue Hens over the final two minutes to earn the victory.

Senior defender Julie Ondrako (Fayetteville-Manlius H.S./Manlius, N.Y.) was named as the CAA Championship Most Outstanding Performer after leading the Tiger defense. In the title game against Delaware, the senior co-captain had three ground balls and three caused turnovers.

"I don't see this as being an individual award, but it is completely a team honor," Ondrako said. "We have become a complete unit this year. This year's championship is really special because we came in as the underdogs with being the fourth seed and we have faced so much adversity this year."

In addition to Ondrako, Taylor, McNamara and Teeters were all named to the All-Tournament Team. Taylor scored seven goals in the two games while McNamara added three goals with seven assists, including a two-goal, five-assist performance against William & Mary on Thursday afternoon. Teeters made 26 saves in the two games, including a season high-tying 14 saves in the semi-finals.

Allen and Schaknowski led the Blue Hens with two goals each while Libertini added a goal with two assists. Senior goalkeeper Jessica Cerveny (Islip H.S./Islip, N.Y.) made 12 saves in a losing effort for Delaware, which was attempting to win its first conference title since the 1999 season.

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