Towson Edges Wm. & Mary for CAA Reg. Season Title

TOWSON, Md. Freshman Rhiannon Coogle scored a career high four goals, including the game-winner with 39 seconds remaining in overtime, as Towson (10-6, 6-1) clinched the CAA regular season championship with an intense 12-11 victory over William & Mary (9-6, 4-2) at Johnny Unitas Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

With the win, the Tigers earned the top seed and the right to host the CAA Tournament at Unitas Stadium on May 5-7. Although the Tigers have won three CAA championships since 2004, this is the first time that Towson will be the top seed and the host.

The dramatic win over William & Mary was the Tigers' fifth consecutive victory. It also capped an incredible turnaround under the direction of Sonia LaMonica, Towson's first-year head coach. The Tigers started the season by losing four of their first five games. However, they regrouped and have gone 9-2 since then. During the nine-game stretch, the Tigers have won four overtime games.

"We've seen some adversity this year but we've hung tough and the girls believed in each other," said LaMonica. "We've gotten stronger and stronger with each game. To stand here today and say that we are going to host the CAA Championship is a very proud moment and we are very excited about it.

"We have a team of fighters and they have shown so many times that they are not going to give up," she added. "That shows a lot about our character."

With the teams tied at 11-11 in the second overtime segment, sophomore Kelly Custer won the draw control and the Tigers held the ball for more than two minutes. With less than a minute left, Custer found Coogle cutting towards the goal. She fed her the ball and Coogle scored to snap the tenth tie of the game.

After the Tribe won the ensuing draw control, sophomore Alexa Demski came up with a big defensive play with 14 seconds left. Demski forced a turnover by the Tribe's top scorer, Grace Golden, and came up with the ground ball. Demski fed the ball ahead and Towson ran out the clock for the victory.

The Tigers were forced to come from behind in the final minute of regulation to force overtime. With 49 seconds remaining in regulation, Custer scored the tying goal off a pass from junior Sarah Appelt.

The Tigers and the Tribe played a tight contest in which only once did either team own a lead of more than one goal. The Tigers owned one-goal leads seven times while the Tribe had a one-goal lead four times.

Since it was Senior Day, Coach LaMonica started all eight of her seniors. The Tribe dominated play early in the game and owned a 1-0 lead, thanks to a free position goal by freshman Jenna Dougherty with 18:21 left in the first half.

The Tigers came back to grab a 2-1 lead by scoring two goals only 17 seconds apart. Sophomore Ashley Waldron scored the game-tying goal with 13:30 left in the half off a pass from Appelt. Moments later, senior Jess Dunn put the Tigers up by 2-1 when she scored off an assist by Custer.

A free position goal by sophomore Kyrstin Mackrides tied the game at 2-2. With 8:17 left, Waldron scored her second goal off a pass from Coogle to give Towson a 3-2 advantage. But, junior Stephanie Steinweg's free position goal tied the contest at 3-3.

A free position goal by junior Jackie LaMonica and Coogle's first goal of the game put the Tigers up by 5-3 with 2:22 left in the half. It turned out to be the only time in the contest either team had a two-goal advantage.

The Tribe cut its deficit to 5-4 when Mackrides scored her second goal of the game just 1:20 before halftime.

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