Towson’s 12-11 comeback win against UMBC Wednesday night did not involve John Fennessy, and it’s not clear when the redshirt sophomore defenseman will return to the team.
Fennessy, a member of last year’s All-Rookie Team in the Colonial Athletic Association, is dealing with a back injury that flared up in the Tigers’ 10-9 double-overtime victory over Hofstra last Saturday, and the ailment is problematic enough that coach Shawn Nadelen is worried about whether Fennessy will play again this season.
“It’s something that we’ve got to keep an eye on,” Nadelen said. “We’re not quite sure what path it’s going to go down. We’re meeting with our sports medicine staff every day, and they kind of gives us the updates as far as where he is. We’d love to have him. We’re thin, and he’s a great player and did a great job for us. We’re going to be prepared to play with him and without him.”
Prior to Wednesday night, Fennessy was tied for second on the team in caused turnovers (eight), but is not a groundball machine as he had collected just eight thus far. But Fennessy is Towson’s best defender and a veteran presence.
“It’s tough when you lose a guy who’s been a starter since his freshman year and played a lot of minutes for you,” Nadelen said. “But we have confidence in the next guys in line. We coach all of our guys – from the starter to a guy who’s more of a scout guy for us – and we expect the same [results]. Losing John for this game was tough, but we know that [sophomore] Billy Choiniere is ready to step in. He’s a guy who’s played some minutes for us. The thing you might lose in a situation like that is a little continuity in the middle, a little cohesiveness and communication out on the field.”
In his first career start, Choiniere did not register a defensive statistic and allowed Retrievers sophomore attackman Matt Gregoire to score twice. But Nadelen had a positive impression of Choiniere’s play.
“The thing with UMBC from scouting them and watching them, their attack is very good, but there wasn’t a lot of initiating from the attack. They’re not heavy dodgers,” Nadelen said. “So it allowed us to be a little more comfortable without our best on-ball defender out there. Billy is a very good on- and off-ball player, and it allowed him to get his feet wet a little bit better without having him cover a high-powered dodger.”