TOWSON, Md. --- The last big play of Towson lacrosse coach Tony Seaman's 29th season was a snuffed out bluff.
He and the rest of his program can only hope he gets another year because of another fake.
The embattled --- a word that only too accurately describes a man who was told a year ago to make the NCAA tournament or expect his contract not to be renewed --- coach saw his team's postseason hopes effectively dashed when Delaware goalie Noah Fossner stuffed Tim Stratton one-on-one on the crease after a pair of pump fakes with 2:07 left in today's CAA title game.
Moments later, the Blue Hens (with the help of an empty net goal) left with a 12-9 victory, sending the Tigers (7-8) to their second straight loss in a CAA final.
"The kid probably made the best save of his life," Seaman said. "He'll probably never forget it. Timmy Stratton will never forget it. And I'll probably be put in the grave remembering it."
It was gallows humor, right to the possible end of a college coaching career spanning four decades. Athletic director Mike Hermann, the man who will help decide Seaman's fate, sat a few rows behind reporters in a classroom inside the fieldhouse at Johnny Unitas Stadium.
Seaman thanked reporters for their coverage. He described how he would go about the next few weeks under normal circumstances, namely if he remained employed.
He didn't offer concrete answers. In this rare case, the man who segued from high school history coach to college lacrosse coach in his late 30s, couldn't speak with the certainty and clarity he was accustomed to.
"I haven't sat down with anybody," Seaman said. "I haven't met with Mike or the president yet, so I know what was expected of of us and we didn't make it. So I guess they're going to have to make a decision. It was rewarding to see my colleagues give me the coach of the year for the league. That meant a lot to me. I've always hoped that I wads going to be the one that was going to decide when this thing was going to be over and to know it and to realize it and to step away. I'm not ready to do that. I've got maybe the best recruiting class I've ever had coming here next year, offensively. We don't lose a whole lot. I think it's going to be a pretty good team, and I'd love to be a part of it."
Towson will lose its top two scorers, as well as two of its starting close defensemen.
Whether it loses its coach is another matter, though it seemed a fait accompli if the Tigers logged another losing season.
The questions forever facing an athletic director pondering a coaching change are threefold. Can the school afford to make a change? Can the school afford to not make a change? And can a better coach be found?
With Seaman's contract up, the first quandary is solved. The second is more in the hands of behind-the-scenes operators, though it is difficult to believe the fate of a lacrosse coach at a school other than Johns Hopkins would lead to a donor shutting the valve on a financial spigot.
So, realistically, it leaves the dicey problem of just who to bring in --- should a change even be made.
Seaman was asked if Towson's bizarre season --- a 1-5 start, followed a six-game winning streak, a pair of road losses and then a split in the CAA tournament --- warranted a 13th year in the Baltimore 'burbs.
"Probably should direct that to Mr. Hermann," Seaman said. "Of course I do. I'd be crazy not to. I think we've proved our worth all the way around. I think it's a great staff. Our kids do great in the classroom. Probably have stayed out of trouble more than any year I've been here."
There wasn't, though, an NCAA tournament berth. The Tigers did not meet the ultimatum, however fair it was. Seaman was left with two baubles for his trouble: A hand in a CAA regular season title, and a CAA coach of the year honor announced just yesterday.
Perhaps the last month was enough to turn the demands of a year ago into a fake-out.
"You really just hope that everybody that's in charge of you will take a lot of things into consideration and go from there," Seaman said. "It could be monumental to be the only coach of the year to ever be let go."
With one last dry comment, Seaman walked out. He'll find out soon enough if his final press conference came sooner than he ever would have hoped.