It is entirely fitting that three of the most important assists in Towson State lacrosse history came off the same stick.
The stick belongs to John Blatchley, a senior attackman and captain who is on the verge of becoming Towson's career assists leader. He needs 16 to catch Hall of Famer Bob Griebe, who collected 133 from 1972 to 1975.
Blatchley's three big ones stand out because of what they represent in the rise of Towson lacrosse.
In 1989, when he was a freshman, Blatchley's assist to Glenn Smith gave the Tigers a 9-8 overtime win over then-No. 1 Johns Hopkins, their first victory over the Blue Jays in 14 attempts. Next was his feed last season to Lindsay Dixon, against Princeton and again in overtime, that sent Towson to the Final Four for the first time.
Last Saturday night, not long after Loyola had been bumped from No. 1 in The Baltimore Sun poll, Blatchley's pass to Donald Connolly triggered an overtime win over the Greyhounds.
Three assists, all leading to game-winning goals, all in overtime. The biggest?
"The one against Hopkins, I guess, because I was a freshman, Hopkins was unbeaten and I was playing against Dave Pietramala," Blatchley said, referring to the outstanding player in Division I that year.
Blatchley's pursuit of Griebe's record has been slowed by the rib and chest injury he suffered two weeks ago against C.W. Post. As he stretched for a loose ball, an opponent crashed into him.
Still, he played the entire game against Loyola, although he didn't practice until the day before. Towson's trainers outfitted him with football shoulder pads and a plate to protect his chest.
"It's restrictive with pads like that," Blatchley said. "When I try to throw overhand, the pads hit me on the helmet."
There was no compelling need for Blatchley to play Wednesday at Bucknell, since the Tigers figured to romp and did, 19-8, but he played anyway and had a goal and three assists in a quarter-plus.
"After three hours on a bus, it's tough for a team to get up," Blatchley said before the No. 2 and unbeaten Tigers left for today's game at Hofstra. "I was hoping to inspire the team."
Blatchley, a Loyola High grad, has become what coach Carl Runk calls "my little coach on the field." Runk chuckles at the recollection of the big defensemen who have guarded Blatchley, 5 feet 9, 160 pounds.
"He's not a big scorer," said Runk, noting Blatchley has 53 goals to go with his 117 assists. "He's a feeder. He knows what I want, knows how to get something going and how to keep it going. He sometimes calls the plays himself.
"I think back to when he was a skinny freshman, with ankles about 3 inches around. I only have a few more games with Blatch. I'll enjoy them while I can."
Whether Blatchley breaks the all-time assists record is of little concern to him and even less to Runk. What they want most is a trip to Philadelphia, site of the Final Four on May 23-25.