With the exception of 40 minutes of yesterday's 14-10 victory over Villanova, last week was a most productive one for Towson State.
After a crucial victory at Maryland on March 14, coach Carl Runk made the most of spring break, sending his young Tigers through several two-a-day practices. All of the lessons were not visible at Minnegan Stadium yesterday, as the Tigers trailed 3-1 after one quarter and were unable to put away the Wildcats after surging to a 10-4 lead in the third quarter.
Before and after a mid-game 9-1 spurt, Towson State committed too many errors for Runk's taste. The Tigers committed six penalties, failed on 14 of 31 clears and at times were out-hustled, despite finishing with a 67-56 edge in ground balls. They had a 47-28 bulge in shots, but their placement left much to be desired.
"I know we're young, but I don't expect sloppy mistakes from seniors," said Runk, who has had to replace nine of the 13 front-line players who led Towson State to last year's NCAA title game, which it lost to North Carolina. "We have to be better on loose balls, and get rid of those mental breakdowns. We made their goalies look good.
"I actually wanted to get everyone [reserves] in earlier than I did, but Villanova wouldn't let us do that. We can play better lacrosse."
During the second quarter and half of the third, everything clicked for the Tigers (3-0), who are No. 5 in The Baltimore Sun rankings. Towson State was unusually sluggish in falling behind 3-1, but the Tigers outscored Villanova (3-3) 5-1 in the second quarter, and reeled off four straight goals in the first 7:26 of the third quarter.
Runk used every man on his roster, one reason the Wildcats were able to creep back, as Villanova scored three of the last four goals. It's a luxury he doesn't expect to have Wednesday, when the Tigers play at Penn State.
"[Runk] is upset right now, but these are the hardest games to win," senior attackman John Blatchley said. "We had a great week of practice, but everyone we play is gunning for us after last year. We'll be on a bus for four hours Wednesday and have to walk off and be ready to play at Penn State. It can't be like today."
Blatchley and junior Joe Genovese led the Tigers. A senior out of Loyola High, Blatchley had two goals and three assists, giving him 112 feeds for his career, 21 shy of the Towson State record. Genovese, a New Yorker who has replaced Glenn Smith on the crease, had a career-high five goals, four during the Tigers' decisive 9-1 spurt.