Tigers' tale is lack of offensive firepower

1-4 Towson needs scoring heading into league play


April 05, 2000|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,SUN STAFF

The Towson Tigers knew that navigating through the first half of their schedule would be a treacherous task.

They had lost two of the most prolific attackmen in the country in Spencer Ford and Kevin Sturm. Only 16 letter winners returned from last year's 5-8 squad. Twenty-one freshmen, the largest class ever at Towson, graced this year's roster.

Now that the Tigers have dropped to 1-4 with Saturday's 13-8 loss to Loyola -- the second top-three team to beat Towson in consecutive weeks -- all coach Tony Seaman wants to focus on is the next season.

That would be the America East schedule, which commences for Towson on Saturday against visiting Delaware. The six-team league has an automatic qualifier for the NCAA tournament, which will be determined after next month's America East tournament.

Towson has many improvements to make, starting with an offense that can't find the net. The Tigers have scored just 48 goals on 23.2 percent shooting. Their extra-man offense is even worse at 22.2 percent. In back-to-back losses to Syracuse and Loyola, the Tigers were a combined 1-for-19 in those situations.

"Our inability to shoot the lacrosse ball has really frustrated me," Seaman said. "We go into the Syracuse game [a 10-3 loss], we hold the ball like we wanted, their goalie makes 23 saves, and we were taking shots from good spots. Then, we turned the ball over four times in our man-up against Loyola."

The offense had trouble sustaining possessions all day against Loyola, and the Tigers have yet to uncover a steady scoring threat. Todd Paradise was thought to be a candidate during the preseason, but he has been inconsistent. Loyola's Joe Rodrigues held him to one goal.

Now that Towson has lost faceoff specialist Justin Berry to a season-ending knee injury, it expects to welcome midfielder Mike Murray back after he missed four games with an ankle injury. Murray will take pressure off middie Mike Haertel, who must assume Berry's faceoff role.

"We've played teams that are better than us, but we've also made them better," Seaman said of the Tigers' early schedule. "There's no more room for excuses, no more room for reasons why we didn't play well. We have to win some games."

Big Red is rolling

Only three years ago, Cornell's once-proud program had slid into a state of disrepair. The Big Red won only three games, including just one against the Ivy League.

Then, Cornell hired Dave Pietramala. And three years into his first head coaching job, the former Johns Hopkins great has the Big Red on the move.

It might not be ready to knock Princeton off the top of the Ivy League just yet, but No. 11 Cornell is coming. The Big Red is 5-1, 2-0 in league play, and is only a one-goal loss to Maryland from being undefeated.

The Ivy League champ receives an automatic NCAA tournament bid, and that figures to be No. 4 Princeton, which has won 26 straight league games and plays host to the Big Red on April 22. By then, Cornell's best tournament shot could be as an at-large choice.

But first things first. Cornell must contend with upstart Harvard on Saturday, before facing top-ranked Syracuse three days later.

"Obviously, the crown in the Ivy League rests on Princeton's head, and it's going to stay there until someone knocks it off," said Pietramala, whose team fell short against the Tigers, 9-6, a year ago. "The road to the playoffs runs through the Ivy League. But every game for us is a playoff game."

A little R and R

Maryland coach Dick Edell prescribed two days of rest and relaxation for the Terps, after they were soundly defeated, 11-6, by No. 2 Virginia on Friday night.

Edell had seen enough at Byrd Stadium, where the Cavaliers outshot the Terps, 50-17, and did not allow a single shot in the third quarter.

Virginia defenseman Mark Koontz earned Atlantic Coast Conference Player of the Week honors for silencing Terps attackman Mike Mollott, Maryland's leading scorer. Mollott did not get off a shot.

The Terps' three leading scorers combined to record one goal.

"We've been going at this six days a week since Jan. 24," said Edell, whose team faces an important test with visiting Navy on Saturday. "Sometimes you have to put the sticks away, lock the doors to the building and send everybody home for a few days to get away from it. You'll see a better team on Saturday."

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