The James Madison lacrosse team fell just short of claiming its third consecutive Colonial Athletic Association title, losing 8-7 at Towson in the CAA Championship Sunday afternoon at the Towson Soccer Complex.
Second-seeded JMU, winner of the last two CAA championships, saw its season end with an 11-7 record. Top-seeded Towson improved to 15-3 with its ninth straight win. The Tigers now advance to an NCAA Tournament play-in game against Northeast Conference champion Monmouth.
Dukes' seniors Monica Zabel (Ellicott City, Md./Mt. Hebron) and Cally Chakrian (East Meadow, N.Y./East Meadow) and sophomore Amy Roguski (Sykesville, Md./Liberty) represented JMU on the All-Tournameant Team.
JMU had the ball most of the last three minutes with a chance to tie the game. But the Tigers' defense held the Dukes without a goal. JMU's final attempt came when Caitlin McHugh (Westminster, Md./Mercy) fired a low shot with eight seconds to go, but Towson goalkeeper Mary Teeters brought her stick down and made a save on the point-blank shot, sealing Towson's victory.
Towson scored three straight goals from 12:44 to 7:09 to take an 8-6 advantage, and the Tigers then played lock-down defense, holding the Dukes to one goal over the final seven minutes of the game to earn the win.
Zabel led JMU in points with two goals and two assists, and Roguski was the Dukes' only other multiple-goal scorer with two. Zabel also had a game-high three draw controls and two ground balls. Freshman Ali Curwin (Pittsford, N.Y./Pittsford Sutherland) led all players with four ground balls, and Zabel, senior Ashley Kimener (Oakton, Va./Oakton), junior Amanda Mathews (Ellicott City, Md./Centennial) and freshman goalkeeper Schylar Healy (Eldersburg, Md./Liberty) each had two ground balls. Chakrian turned in a game-high three caused turnovers.
Towson was led on attack by Custer with three goals, Olivia Turner with two goals and Andi Raymond with one goal and three assists.
JMU held an 18-17 edge on shots, but Towson had 12 draw controls to only five for the Dukes.
Healy finished with four saves, and Teeters, voted the tournament's Most Outstanding Player, made seven saves.
Madison got on the board first when Rebecca McLouth (Cincinnati, Ohio/Sycamore) got a centering feed from Zabel and buried a shot past Teeters to give the Dukes a 1-0 advantage. Towson, however, rebounded with two straight goals by Custer, giving the Tigers a 2-1 lead with 18:13 remaining in the first half.
Kimener knotted the game up four minutes later on a free-position shot, and Roguski scored at 10:12 to give Madison a 3-2 advantage. The Dukes then held the Tigers scoreless for nearly eight minutes, and Healy made two crucial saves to keep the momentum in favor of the Dukes.
It looked as though Madison would head to halftime with the advantage until the Tigers' Rhiannon Coogle found the back of net off a feed from Raymond, knotting the score at three with 2:18 remaining. Towson threatened again after Ariel Lane (Vero Beach, Fla./Vero Beach) picked up a yellow card with 0:16 left, but a turnover spoiled any chance of scoring before half.
Towson shot out of the break on Custer's third goal of the game, putting the Tigers up 4-3 just 45 seconds into the half. However, the Dukes scored three of the next four goals, including two from Zabel, to earn a 6-5 advantage with 14:25 remaining.
Towson, however, battled back with three straight goals to take the 8-6 lead that the Tigers never relinquished.
Roguski put the Dukes within one with a goal with 5:14 to play but the Dukes couldn't manage the equalizer.
* The Dukes' final four games of the season were all decided by a single goal. That included two one-goal losses to Towson and one-goal wins at Old Dominion and Delaware.
* Monica Zabel handed out two assists to up her JMU assists records to 49 for the season record and 121 for the career mark.
* Zabel, who also scored two goals, increased her career points total to 200. She's moved from seventh place to sixth place on JMU's career points list.
* Zabel also finished her career ranked fifth all-time at JMU in draw controls with 138.
* Cally Chakrian had her 100th career ground ball and finished her career tied for 17th on JMU's career lists. She is also in 11th place on the career turnovers list with 67.