Forget seed, Towson worries field

May 09, 1994|By Mike Preston | Mike Preston,Sun Staff Writer Jamison Hensley contributed to this article.

Despite four losses to ranked teams this season -- something that has kept Towson State out of previous NCAA tournaments -- a Tigers team feared by opposing coaches was selected to the 12-team Division I lacrosse playoff field last night.

The 11th-seeded Tigers (7-4) will play No. 6 Johns Hopkins (8-4) Saturday at Homewood Field in a 2 p.m. game. No. 2 Loyola (11-1), which has a first-round bye, No. 9 Maryland (7-5) and No. 10 Navy (7-5) also were selected. Maryland travels to Duke and Navy to Brown on Saturday. Times will be announced today.

Towson State, despite the four losses, probably can beat any team in the country. The Tigers lost to No. 1 seed Syracuse, 17-16, in overtime, 13-12 to both Loyola and Navy and 13-9 to Hopkins.

Towson made the field largely on strength of schedule, and because other teams on the bubble -- Massachusetts, Hofstra, Delaware and Georgetown -- suffered key losses late in the season.

The last time Towson State was seeded 11th in the tournament was 1991. The Tigers advanced to the championship game before losing to North Carolina, 18-13.

"We're really pleased about getting in," said Carl Runk, Towson's coach. "I thought the seventh, eighth, ninth, 10th and 11th spots were the gray areas for a lot of teams, and after some considerations, we were put in that spot. I'm not worried about who we're playing, I'm just glad to be playing this time of season."

So is Johns Hopkins coach Tony Seaman, but he wasn't doing cartwheels when he learned he had to play Towson State in the opening round.

"We've already played 10 of the top 12 teams, so this is just a continuation," said Seaman, who has lost five players, including two defensive starters, to knee injuries this season.

"Towson State is scary because they dominate faceoffs and are unpredictable."

"They were in this position in 1991, and there are a lot of similarities," said Princeton coach Bill Tierney, whose Tigers were upset by Towson, 14-13, in a triple-overtime playoff game. "Time of possession is critical in this game, and they have two great faceoff players. They worry me."

Loyola College coach Dave Cottle said: "Would I want to play Towson State again? Are you kidding? Not until next year."

Cottle's Greyhounds got a big break yesterday. Loyola was expected to get the No. 3 position, but was moved up over Princeton into the No. 2 spot because the Greyhounds' only loss was to No. 1 Syracuse and Princeton's lone setback was to No. 7 Brown (11-4).

If Loyola were No. 3, it would have had to face the Towson-Johns Hopkins winner.

"Well, it took us 80 years to beat Johns Hopkins once. Imagine trying to beat them twice in two weeks," said Cottle, whose Greyhounds defeated the Blue Jays, 17-15, Saturday for the first time after 31 losses.

"It would have been hard trying to beat either of those two teams twice in a season."

Instead, Loyola will take on the Navy-Brown winner.

"Navy is playing well, and we've struggled with Brown [Brown has 5-2 series advantage] over the years," said Cottle. "We're not in a position to overlook anybody."

In the first round of the eight-team Division III tournament, Washington College (10-4) travels to Salisbury State (13-0), which was ranked No. 1 in the final poll, on Sunday. The Shoremen have won all four postseason meetings between the Eastern Shore rivals, including a 12-11 win over Salisbury State at Sea Gull Stadium in last year's first-round game.

The Sea Gulls, however, have won four of the past five matchups with Washington, which lost by five goals to Salisbury two weeks ago. The Washington-Salisbury winner plays the winner of the Denison-Gettysburg matchup in the national semifinals on May 21.

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