The Loch-Down: Can Tigers Uppercut Mighty Terps?
by Clare Lochary | Lacrosse Magazine Online Staff
Towson women's lacrosse coach Missy Doherty had it all planned out. Compete in the Colonial Athletic conference. Then win the CAA. Then compete nationally. Then win nationally.
Things are going according to plan.
“Anything takes time, and I think our program has made step after step, year after year. We’re starting to feel more comfortable in that very competitive setting,” said Doherty, who is in her seventh year at the helm of the Tigers’ program.
On Sunday, Towson rallied from a 7-3 deficit early in the second half to defeat then No. 10-ranked Stanford, 10-9. It was the Tigers’ second win over a ranked opponent this season (they defeated Loyola, 14-10, on March 6), and their first win over a top 10 opponent in program history. Towson went from No. 10 to No. 7 in this week’s IWCLA poll; they began the season at No. 17.
“We have overall great, great players on this team, starters and non-starters. We have good camaraderie, and in order to beat those top teams, you have to have team chemistry,” said Doherty.
Stanford held senior midfielder Hilary Fratzke to one goal, but
it’s a testament to the Tigers’ grit and depth that
they could win despite a quiet day from their star player and a
high turnover count (25). Attacker Jess Dunn (4g) was
Towson’s top scorer, putting up her fifth hat trick of the
year and stepping into first place as the Tigers’ leading
goal scorer (23g). Dunn, who had just seven goals all last season,
has blossomed as a junior. Three of her goals came in the second
half, including a laser-rocket free position shot with 7:35 on the
clock, which proved to be the game-winner.
“Jess definitely has taken that role and run with it. She’s good at taking a [one-on-one] or drawing people in and dumping it,” said Doherty. “Jess is a great shooter. She’s really able to put the ball away so when it comes down to the final minutes, she makes the most of her opportunities. That accuracy definitely helps in the clutch.”
After Dunn put away the final goal, it was up to the defense to maintain the lead. Sophomore goalie Mary Teeters won CAA Co-Player of the Week honors for her career-tying 14-save outing versus the Cardinal (who averaged 13.13 goals per game going into Sunday). Freshman Alexa Demski also contributed to the late-game lockdown. Demski, a Loch Raven (Md.) product, has started every game and is the Tigers’ go-to defender on each opponent’s toughest match-up. Against Stanford, she guarded senior attacker Claire Hubbard and held the Cardinal’s key feeder to a single assist.
“Demski had an awesome game. She took them out of their rhythm. I told my players they still have great scorers and they can still score, but Hubbard behind is always their safety net. Our defense was definitely the reason we won, especially with the turnovers,” said Doherty.
The historic victory gives Towson a much-needed ego boost heading into a match-up with instate rival and No. 2-ranked Maryland on Wednesday night. Doherty plans a different defensive look against her alma mater – not even a defender as quick as Demski can hope to shut down the Terps’ multiple scoring threats.
Towson fell to Maryland, 14-7, last season, but played better than the score reflected. The Tigers briefly held a 2-0 lead and trailed only 5-3 at the break. With a more seasoned team that knows how to close the deal, the Tigers are a legitimate threat to the Terps’ 10-0 undefeated record, which barely survived an 8-7 threat from James Madison, another CAA contender, on Saturday.