New Canaan’s Towers still in the game as coach of Premier Lacrosse’s Chaos

It was summertime in the 1980s when Andy Towers, a high school lacrosse star at New Canaan, received his first taste of coaching at one of coach Howard Benedict’s youth camps.

Towers signed on to earn a little bit of money, but an additional spark was lit.

“I loved it,” Towers said. “I loved being on the field, I loved working with the kids and I loved the challenge of trying to get guys to sacrifice a little bit of themselves for the chance that their cumulative effort can lead to great things.”

Nearly 40 years later, Towers is still in the game.

Towers coaches the Chaos of the Premier Lacrosse League (PLL), which will be holding four games at Fairfield University’s Rafferty Stadium this weekend.

The defending league champions, the Chaos will play in the second game of a Saturday doubleheader, which includes Redwoods vs. Atlas at 5, and Chaos vs. Whipsnakes at 7:45. Sunday’s twinbill features Cannons vs. the Archers at 2, and Chrome vs. Waterdogs at 4:30.

All four games will be shown on ESPN+ and Sunday’s games will also be carried on ESPN2.

Having the games locally, with several players with Connecticut ties on the rosters, is a boon for the league on several levels, Towers said.

“The first one is to be part of bringing the best players in the world to the area that I grew up in, and the area that (Darien’s) Jamie Hanford, my defensive assistant, grew up in,” Towers said. “It’s become such a hot bed over the years.

“For the PLL to prioritize bringing the league to the Fairfield County area is really exciting. To be part of something that is loved by so many people in the area and being played at the highest level is humbling and exciting.”

The Chaos (1-4) lost its first four games this season, but got in the win column with a 13-11 win over the Cannons on July 2.

Part of the slow start, Towers said, had to do with the overlap of the PLL and National League Lacrosse indoor season, which ran through mid-June. Several players were wrapping up the NLL season, and started rejoining the Chaos roster for games four and five.

“Relative to the other teams in the league, we’re just getting started due to the late arrival of the offensive players on our team,” Towers said. “So we’re very, very optimistic that if we make the playoffs, we’re going to be in a position to make another run towards the championship. We know we have the pieces, so can we put them together and play at the level that allows us to win.”

It’s also not as if the Chaos is in unfamiliar territory.

They began the 2021 season with three straight losses and eventually finished the regular season with a 4-5 record for the No. 6 playoff seed. Then they went on a 3-0 run through the tournament, winning the PLL championship with a 14-9 win over the Whipsnakes in the final.

The roster includes a former New Fairfield star, with CJ Costabile, now 32, as a long stick defensive midfielder.

The Chaos picked up Costabile in free agency last summer and he was “a shot in the arm for our team,” Towers said.

“The guy is just ageless, just unbelievable,” Towers said. “We’ve got a lot of great players on our team and CJ is one of the best. He’s unbelievably dynamic with the ball in his stick, off the ground, he can faceoff, he can defend quick guys and strong guys, and his compete level is off the chart.

“He just made the All-Star game at 32, which just goes to show you the kind of resolve that kid has. He’s an awesome, awesome player and an even better teammate and guy.”

Towers’ coaching career has spanned parts of the past four decades, following his playing career as a two-time All-American at Brown, where he was named the 1993 Ivy League Player of the Year. He also played several seasons in the Major Indoor Lacrosse League, National Lacrosse League, and Major League Lacrosse.

He was the head coach at the University of Hartford for one season, an assistant at Fairfield University for two seasons, and was Dartmouth’s head coach from 2010 to 2014. He began coaching the Chaos in 2019.

“Coaching allows you to stay a part of the game and the competition even when your body can’t do what your mind wants it to do,” Towers said. “You’re trying to have an impact on these guys. I like the challenge of trying to get guys to come together.”

As his team pursues a repeat PLL title, the coach said the players are living a dream.

“They all dream of winning a championship at the highest level and the PLL is certainly the highest level of lacrosse. For these guys to be able to make a 25-man roster, in and of itself is an unbelievable accomplishment.

“And then for these guys to be able to come back to where they grew up and play professionally really completes the dream for a lot of these guys.”; @dstewartsports