Though Towson State's marvelous lacrosse season came to a disheartening end Monday, coach Carl Runk already is looking ahead.
All-America defenseman Carl Beerenick and attackman John Blatchley, both juniors, will return, joined by what Runk says is a fine recruiting class, for another run at the school's first national crown since it won the National Collegiate Athletic Association Division II-III championship 17 years ago.
"We feel that getting to the finals is going to help us," said Runk, whose team lost to North Carolina, 18-13, in the NCAA Division I final Monday in Syracuse, N.Y. "We have signed some really fine lacrosse players."
The departing players, particularly attackman Glenn Smith and midfielder Rob Shek, won't be easily forgotten. When the team ** needed a boost after early-season defeats to Maryland, Johns Hopkins and Loyola, they provided it, along with Beerenick, Lindsay Dixon, Tony Millon and goalie Richard Betcher, with some solid play.
The team "was consistent," said Runk. "Our goals were very high throughout the year. We worked hard and stayed within the realm of our goals."
In the championship game, Towson State had momentum, having beaten three higher-seeded teams in becoming the first 11th seed in the 21-year history of the tournament to reach the championship.
But the Tar Heels, who had lost in the national semifinals the previous two years, had more depth and more talent.
"We thought that we were a good lacrosse team," Runk said of the team's mood before Monday's game. "We had worked real hard to get this far, so we felt confident. We weren't just going to roll over."