Towson State University's chances of making the 12-team National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I lacrosse tournament could be at stake tonight at 8, when the Tigers play host to No. 6 Johns Hopkins at Minnegan Stadium, but Towson coach Carl Runk is treating it as just another game.
And Runk thinks Towson (8-2) should be invited to the tournament by the selection committee May 12 regardless of the outcome of tonight's game.
"I've heard this talk from several people about our season coming down to one game, and that irks me a little," said Runk, whose team is ranked ninth.
"We're playing Johns Hopkins, ranked sixth in the country, and they probably should be ranked higher because they play the most difficult schedule in the country," said Runk. "It's going to be two fine lacrosse teams out there, and during the course of the year, with our schedule, I think we have proven that we belong in the playoffs."
Towson was ranked seventh last year before losing to 10th-ranked Hopkins, 12-9, in the season finale. The Blue Jays, who finished at 6-5, went to the playoffs; Towson (11-2) stayed home.
Several members of last year's selection committee said the Tigers were hurt by their lack of a tough schedule, even though Towson played Penn State, Loyola, Maryland and Hopkins. This year Towson added and beat Navy, 15-8, losing only to No. 3 Maryland, 17-16, and No. 8 Loyola, 14-12.
"We're not approaching this game any differently than any other game," Runk said. "We've had some good practices, and the kids are aware they are playing one of the finest teams in the country. We just want to minimize our mistakes and let the chips fall where they may."
Runk calls Hopkins a well-balanced team, and the Blue Jays will be completely healthy for only the second time in the past five games. Hopkins got a big lift Wednesday night, when midfielder Adam Wright (separated shoulder) returned to the lineup. He scored four goals on five shots in a 20-11 win over Hofstra.
Attackmen Matt Panetta (19 goals, 24 assists) and Jeff Wills (18, 5) pace Hopkins (6-3). Attackmen Michael DeSimone (26, 13) and John Blatchley (12, 26) lead Towson.
Hopkins coach Tony Seaman said he is not concerned about playing two night games in a week.
The players "would rather be playing games than listening to us at practice this time of the season," he said. "Towson is an excellent team with very good personnel. We realize this is a big game for them as far as the playoffs are concerned. Plus, it's a night game and on their home field. We realize we're going to have to play very hard to win."
Also today, Maryland will play host to Maryland Baltimore County at 2 p.m.