Breakout is timely for Towson

Loyola up, so Tigers hope scoring problems history

Men's notebook

College Lacrosse

March 26, 2003|By Jeff Zrebiec | Jeff Zrebiec,SUN STAFF

To say that Towson was due for its 14-goal outburst at Delaware on Saturday would be considered by some a major understatement, especially if you were talking to Tigers coach Tony Seaman.

"After the Virginia game, I was wondering if we would score any more goals again," said Seaman, whose team lost to the Cavaliers, 10-2, 10 days ago. It was the fewest goals for a Tigers team in a game since 1992. "We certainly needed to score some goals and win a game like that."

Known for an up-and-down style that became their trademark during their run to the final four in 2001, the Tigers are still doing plenty of running and gunning, just not a lot of scoring.

Towson (2-3), ranked 14th, is averaging slightly over 10 goals per game, but that is somewhat misleading since the Tigers scored 18 against an overmatched Sacred Heart.

The 10 goals a game is not the statistic that alarms Seaman. This is: the Tigers have averaged 49 shots a game, 10 more than their opponents. Top-ranked Johns Hopkins has taken an average of 42 shots, while Loyola, the Tigers' opponent on Saturday at Curley Field, has averaged 31.

"We have been getting good shots, but we just haven't been shooting well," said Seaman. "That's been our downfall. Against Delaware, we finally started to shoot well."

Senior Hunter Lochte, a Boys' Latin alumnus moved from midfield to attack this year, led the scoring parade against the Blue Hens with six goals and an assist in the Tigers' 14-10 win.

The Tigers' task gets much tougher this weekend against No. 8 Loyola.

Bill Dirrigl's Greyhounds also broke out offensively Saturday, beating Brown, 16-8. However, everything starts with Loyola's defense, led by senior goalie Mark Bloomquist and an unheralded close defense.

While Towson, a Colonial Athletic Association member, would like nothing better than to reach the .500 mark by defeating its longtime Charles Street rival, the game may have greater meaning to the independent Greyhounds, who don't have the luxury of winning a conference title to secure an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.

Loyola (5-1) will need one of nine at-large tournament bids. Saturday's game starts a season-closing stretch that includes games with No. 4 Syracuse, No. 5 Georgetown, No. 3 Princeton and No. 1 Johns Hopkins.

"All I know is this is Towson and Loyola," Dirrigl said. "I'm sure for them, it's just as important as it is for us. This is a game that means a lot, but they all mean a lot."

Carolina turnaround

A season that started with high expectations, then was labeled a bust by the second weekend of this month, has been revived by North Carolina.

Two consecutive impressive Atlantic Coast Conference victories - a 14-9 win over Duke last Wednesday and a 10-6 upset of previously undefeated Maryland three days later in College Park - has wiped away some of the memories of a 1-2 start, which included consecutive losses to Navy and Notre Dame by a total of three goals.

The No. 7 Tar Heels (5-2, 2-0 in ACC) are looking to stay on a roll, but will need to beat top-ranked Johns Hopkins and No. 2 Virginia to do so.

"Two weeks ago, we were in a lot of trouble," said Tar Heels sophomore goalie Paul Spellman, a St. Paul's alumnus who stymied the Terps with a career-high 25 saves. "But winning these last two is just great for the program."

Labeled the team of the future after coach John Haus brought in his second straight blockbuster recruiting class, the Tar Heels, who have 26 freshmen or juniors on the roster, are seeking their first NCAA bid since 1998.

"I've been through a lot with this program," said midfielder Austin Garrison, one of six Tar Heels seniors and the team's top scoring threat along with McDonogh alumnus Jed Prossner. "The feeling is different now on this team than it's been the last three years."

Ground balls

Hopkins' victory over top-ranked Virginia on Saturday at Homewood Field marked the Blue Jays' fourth straight win when playing a No. 1 team. ... Princeton senior defender Damien Davis (Gilman) held reigning Player of the Year Mike Powell scoreless and contributed a fourth-quarter goal in the Tigers' 11-10 victory over Syracuse on Saturday. It was the first time the Orange junior has been held without a point in a game in his career.

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