Towson, Md. - Junior Thomas DeNapoli scored the game winner with 1:04 left in overtime to lead Towson men's lacrosse (1-3) to a 9-8 win over Mercer (1-2) on Sunday at Unitas Stadium.
"I'm proud of our guys for finding a way to win today," said head coach Shawn Nadelen. "Getting win No. 1 in the books was important, and I hope this game moves us in the right direction for the rest of the season."
Mercer went on a five-goal run over the end of the third quarter and the start of the fourth to take an 8-5 lead with 9:22 left in the game. Towson regrouped and scored the final four goals of the game (including DeNapoli's game winner) for the win. During that four-goal run, DeNapoli scored three times.
Chris Baxa led the Bears with four goals, and Zack Ward had two. Four Bears tallied an assist apiece.
The first quarter was a low-scoring affair, ending tied 1-1. Mercer took a 2-1 lead on a Baxa goal right off the first face-off of the second quarter. But senior Matt Hughes combined with sophomore Justin Mabus at 7:24 for a goal that keyed a 3-0 run to put Towson up 4-2 at the start of the third quarter.
Mercer would not go away, however. After sophomore Greg Cuccinello gave the Tigers a 5-3 lead at 5:50 in the third, the Bears scored the next five goals. In the middle of that run, Mercer took its first lead of the game on a Ward tally at 12:07 in the fourth. DeNapoli stemmed the tide with his second of a career-high-tying four goals at 9:10.
DeNapoli's goal was the first of three Tiger goals in the span of 40 seconds. Towson won the ensuing face-off and sophomore Cory Dobyns connected with classmate Ben McCarty score just 14 seconds later to inch the Tigers within one, 8-7, at 8:56 in the final quarter of regulation. DeNapoli knotted the score at 8-8 26 seconds later.
The teams were in a stalemate for the rest of the quarter. Despite a late Towson penalty that gave the Bears a man advantage with four seconds left in regulation, neither team was able to score until DeNapoli found the back of the cage for the game winner.
Towson out-shot Mercer 35-31, but the Bears won the ground ball and face-off battles 34-33 and 12-8, respectively. Senior Andrew Wascavage made seven saves for Towson, while Mike Nugent stopped 11 shots for Mercer.
Towson has a week off before returning to action on Saturday, March 2 when the Tigers travel to Mount St. Mary's at 7 p.m.