Towson's Hughes more confident

Freshman getting comfortable after getting skewered by coach

May 07, 2010

Towson's Matt Hughes is often on the receiving end of some pointed criticism from coach Tony Seaman. But Hughes said he doesn't mind the panning too much.

"He seems to yell at me a lot during practice," Hughes said with a laugh. "He continues to tell me it's for my own good, that he only yells at me because he knows I can be a good player. I believe him. I feel like I'm starting to play with more confidence in every game."

The freshman attackman is beginning to display that confidence. He set a career best with four points on three goals and one assist in the Tigers' 13-6 rout of No. 17 Massachusetts in a Colonial Athletic Association tournament semifinal Wednesday night.

Hughes scored two of Towson's first three goals to overcome a 2-0 deficit to the visiting Minutemen. More significantly, however, the 6-foot-1, 183-pound Hughes recognized that he was being guarded by a short-stick defensive midfielder and pointed out the mismatch to Seaman on the sideline.

Hughes' transition to the college level has been bumpy at times. He scored just once in a four-game stretch against Massachusetts, Drexel, Penn State and Johns Hopkins and was benched for a time against Hofstra for leaving the box when the Tigers were under a stalling warning.

"He loses his focus a little bit and does some freshman things," Seaman said. "But I think I've gotten under his skin so much that he's starting to listen to me a little bit. He's going to be a really, really terrific lacrosse player at the college level because God gave him a lot of talent and some wonderful physical skills. He's just got to learn the game at this level and understand the people he's going against."

Hughes ranks fourth on the team in goals (12) and points (16).

"I have been surprised," Hughes said of his production. "I thought since I was only a freshman coming in, I shouldn't expect much playing time right away. My dad told me to just keep working hard and you'll get what you deserve. I've been playing well, but I am surprised."

Washington presses on

As Washington College prepares for another installment of the War on the Shore series with No. 2 Salisbury on Saturday, the Shoremen have struggled to a 4-9 record and have had season-ending injuries to three starters in senior attackman Brendan O'Leary (torn anterior cruciate ligament), sophomore defenseman Jack Vermeil (wrist) and sophomore goalkeeper Peter Stewart (dislocated ankle).

Before the season, the Shoremen also had to overcome a hazing incident in January. But coach J.B. Clarke said he's trying to look at the big picture.

"You have to take a step back and recognize the age and experience of the guys playing out there," said Clarke, who will start freshman goalie Matt Miller and a close defense of freshmen Michael Pierandri and Matt Torr and sophomore Bryan Botti against the Sea Gulls (17-1). "I really enjoy this team. We're 4-9, and that's not acceptable around here, obviously. But they're a terrific group of kids and they have not quit. From the outside looking in, you're probably thinking, 'When are they going to give in?' And they haven't. … So it's not hard to like this group of young men because they continue to give everything that they have."

Mount to see old 'friend'

Last year's Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference tournament ended early for Mount St. Mary's, as the team was bounced from the semifinals by Manhattan.

Guess which teams will play in the first semifinal today at 4 p.m. at Marist?

"These kids know that this is the team that knocked us out last year from the playoffs," Mountaineers coach Tom Gravante said. "So they have an opportunity at redemption. I'm excited for them for Friday. But we play one game first. We focus on one game before we move on to whoever is the next opponent."

Et cetera

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