As we head into the summer break, I first want to thank Coach Pat Mead, his staff and team for letting me be a part of their “Night of Champions” dinner this past Friday. By winning the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) championship again, the Tigers' women’s swimming and diving team has shown itself to be the class of the CAA. It’s been a great year for Towson athletics, and we congratulate all the student-athletes, especially the graduating seniors. We wish them the best as they move on to the next phase of their life.
Looking ahead to this summer
Over the next couple of months, I will look back on some of the most memorable comebacks I have broadcast over the past 22 years. Contrary to internet rumors, I hope to be around to broadcast another 22 years of Towson athletics.
Towson Men's Lacrosse - March 31, 2012
Our first look back is not very far into the past. We head to Hempstead, N.Y., on March 31, 2012. The Towson men’s lacrosse team was facing the Hofstra Pride. Towson came into the game with a 6-3 mark and 1-0 in the CAA. Hofstra was ranked No. 20 in the nation even though they were 4-4 and 1-1 in conference play.
Early on, the Pride peppered the Tigers with shots. Much as we saw this season, goalkeeper Andrew Wascavage kept the Tigers in the game. Even though Hofstra outshot the Tigers 12-4 in the first quarter, they only led 2-1. It was the same in the second quarter, as Hofstra led at the half 4-2.
The Pride came out on fire in the third quarter, outscoring Towson 3-1 to lead 7-3 heading into the fourth quarter.
Things got worse for the Tigers.
With 12:03 remaining in the game, Steve Sterling scored to give Hofstra a 9-3 lead. At this point, it looked like there was no way Towson would get their first win in Hempstead since 2004.
The turning point
But the Pride suffered an injury that came back to haunt them. Their face-off man, John Antonaides, was cruising along, winning nine of 15 face-offs. But he was injured in the fourth quarter. From that point on, the Tigers dominated the "X." Ian Mills won eight of 12 face-offs in the second half.
By dominating the "X," Towson was able to make a run. Playing against his cousin Mike, the Tigers' Thomas DeNapoli scored the first hat trick of his career. DeNapoli's goal with 11:27 to go in the game stopped a 4-0 Hofstra run and cut the lead to 9-4. Towson scored two more goals over the nex three minutes to cut the lead to 9-7 with 8:28 to go. But then neither team scored over the next 5:30.
Drama on the field and in the booth
So while Hofstra was watching its lead melt away, up in the booth Hunter Lochte and I were seeing our broadcast blowing up. We had lost our connection with the radio station, and they could not figure out what the problem was. So Hunter and I were reduced to broadcasting one of the biggest comebacks in school history by handing a cellphone back and forth to each other.
Luckily, on the field things were going much smoother. The Tigers cut the lead to 9-8 with 2:03 to go on a goal by senior Matt Lamon. The Tigers set up on offense for the final time in regulation. DeNapoli got his third goal of the game with just two seconds left to tie the ballgame. His cousin Mike was a key factor in the outcome in overtime.
Overtime, part 1
Neither team could do much in the first extra five minutes of play. As a matter of fact, the Tigers dominated possession but took just two shots. Hofstra did not get a shot off. That led us to a second overtime.
Overtime, part 2
Late in the second overtime, Mike DeNapoli got hit with two one-minute penalties to give the Tigers a man-advantage for two minutes. After Towson missed its first two shots, then-freshman Justin Mabus nailed the game winner with 38 seconds left in the second overtime. It set off a mass celebration by Towson as the Tigers got their first win on the Island in eight years. It also put the Tigers into first place in the CAA.
This was one of the greatest comebacks in the lacrosse program's history. Unfortunately, after winning their next game against UMBC, the Tigers finished the year losing their last five games.
A harbinger of things to come
But what we got that night at Hofstra, was a glimpse of the future. Thomas DeNapoli catapulted himself in his junior year, scoring 41 goals and 19 assists. Justin Mabus finished 2013 with 16 assists, good for second on the team, and goalkeeper Andrew Wascavage had one of the best years in Towson history in 2013, saving 59.2 percent and having at least 11 saves in every game of the regular season.
This was a game that every player on Towson’s team I am sure will never forget.