Towson sharpshooter adds new elements to his game

A natural scorer, midfielder Vetter becoming well-rounded player

March 10, 2007|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,Sun reporter

Brian Vetter still has the blistering shot that drew the interest of numerous high-level Division I lacrosse coaches when he was a star at Annapolis High School. But the Towson University junior midfielder is determined to add more dimensions to his game.

He already has expanded his game in the classroom. After allowing his high school grades to slip until most recruiters lost interest, Vetter enrolled in a rigorous postgraduate school in Maine for a year.

Vetter's recovery is No. 11 Towson's gain. As a communications major and boating enthusiast with an eye on becoming a yacht brokerage owner, he is carrying a 2.9 grade point average and last year made the dean's list for the first time.

And that shot is still there. Twelve days ago at Loyola, Vetter showed it off to the tune of a career-high four goals in a season-opening 9-8 victory.

It was enough to make Tigers coach Tony Seaman envision more days like that from a player with the tools to be a star again. It also got Seaman to thinking that maybe Vetter will develop into more than just a fast, 6-foot-2 sharpshooter with only a mildinterest in sharing the ball.

"Brian wants to shoot. And his second choice is he wants to shoot. And his third choice is he wants to shoot," Seaman said. "His problem is he holds the ball too long sometimes. Of course, he probably can pick a flea out of the goal with enough time and room [to shoot].

"He's one of the most talented players I've ever recruited, here or anywhere I've been. He's got the skills, and he's a smart kid. He's changed his game a little bit."

Vetter smiles as he reviews the changes. Once the recruiters from Cornell, Virginia, Brown, Drexel and Penn State stopped calling, he heard about Bridgton Academy, the prep boarding school some 90 minutes northwest of Portland. There, in one year after graduating from Annapolis - where he scored almost 100 goals over his final two years at attack and helped the Panthers win the Class 3A-2A state title as a senior - Vetter found discipline as a student. He also led Bridgton's lacrosse team in scoring with 48 goals and 18 assists.

"My grades [in high school] weren't what they are now. I was just going through the motions, just hanging around," said Vetter, whose Tigers (2-0) face visiting No. 10 Maryland today. "You're not thinking ahead at that point in your life. But I realized schools had to put their [scholarship] money into people who are with it.

"Bridgton really changed me as a person. They tell you when you can eat, sleep, when it's time for lights out. You can't leave on weekdays, and you can only leave on weekends if you sign out, and they check up on you. It was really hard. It was a reality check."

Towson never lost sight of Vetter, whom Seaman remembers scoring seven goals in a summer league game prior to his senior year at Annapolis. After Vetter enrolled at Towson, Seaman decided to put his player's speed, shooting range and dodging ability to better use by moving him from attack to midfield. Vetter promptly started the fall season by scoring five times against Duke, which would end up in the NCAA title game the following spring.

Vetter went on to make the all-rookie team in the Colonial Athletic Association as a freshman in 2005 by producing 11 goals and three assists. He improved to 18 goals last spring. But consistency was missing, and Vetter's tendency to force shots in the face of double teams wore on his coach.

"I get in my own way more than anyone else does," said Vetter, who has endeared himself to his offensive teammates this season by having them over for chicken dinners the night before games, after everyone pitches in for meat, sauce and salad ingredients.

"I get out of what I'm supposed to do. I don't move the ball enough. I let my fundamentals slip by dropping down and shooting sidearm. My plan is to fit into the system. The more I let the game come to me, the better off I'll be."

Senior midfielder and faceoff man Matt Eckerl looks at Vetter, who has 34 goals in 32 career games, and sees a natural scorer with the range and velocity to be great. He also sees a more well-rounded player beginning to emerge.

"We've all been waiting for it," said Eckerl, reflecting on the four-goal day at Loyola. "[Vetter] has that knack for finishing. And he's starting to get more comfortable and consistent. The sky is the limit for him."

gary.lambrecht@baltsun.com

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