Review & preview: Towson men's lacrosse

A look at the 2014 season for the Tigers and a glimpse into 2015

June 03, 2014|By Edward Lee, The Baltimore Sun

Here is the second installment of a series that checks in with the seven Division I programs in the state to give a glimpse into the past and the future. Teams are scheduled to appear according to the chronological order in which their seasons ended. Monday’s visit was with Mount St. Mary’s. Tuesday’s visit is with Towson.

REVIEW

The good: The Tigers (8-7 overall and 2-3 in the Colonial Athletic Association) opened the season with a slow start that was punctuated by a bewildering 20-4 loss to Loyola on Feb. 19 that had even coach Shawn Nadelen questioning the team’s mettle. But the players responded with a six-game winning streak that had the team flirting with a top 15 ranking. Towson’s ability to rebound from what could have been crippling setback was a welcomed sight for Nadelen.

“We had a pretty good stretch after we played our worst game against Loyola,” he said. “Our guys really turned themselves around and got back into who we are as a program, and we were able to put together a good little winning streak and play some good lacrosse.”

** Not too many teams like to lean on their freshmen to contribute immediately, but that wasn’t the case for the Tigers. Attackman Joe Seider (Hereford) led the offense with 23 goals, midfielder Ryan Drenner (Westminster) ranked third with 10 assists, and short-stick defensive midfielder Jack Adams (Hereford) posted 13 ground balls and five caused turnovers. Add long-stick midfielder Tyler Mayes (15 GB, 11 CT), midfielder Michael Lynch (3 G, 1 A) and faceoff specialist Alec Burckley (45.8 percent on 38-of-83 and 21 GB), and the team didn’t shy away from employing its rookies.

“We wouldn’t have recruited them if we didn’t think they could come in and play for us early,” Nadelen said. “They had opportunity, and I think they capitalized on that, which is a good thing. We had some holes to fill from the previous year, and they had to be filled by somebody. The freshmen kind of seized those opportunities, and it was good to have those guys out there playing. But also with any freshmen, you’re going to deal with some inexperience and some poor decision-making and things like that. But it’s a good sign that they wanted to do good things, which they did for the most part.”

** The graduation of Andrew Wascavage was thought to be a huge blow for the defense, and while Tyler White wasn’t as consistent as his predecessor, the junior fared decently in his first year as a full-time starter. White recorded a 9.63 goals-against average and a .502 save percentage after sitting out fall workouts and being severely limited by injury in the preseason.

“So it took him a while to get his feet underneath him, and consistency was an issue and body language was an issue at times, but I think that was a case of him trying to get comfortable with himself being the guy out there on the field,” Nadelen said. “He had some pretty strong games. I’m sure there are some games he’d like to have back, but moving forward for him is going to be a point of emphasis.”

The bad: After last year’s surprising run to the CAA tournament crown, Towson appeared poised to repeat that effort. But the team went just 2-3 in the conference, and although that was good enough to earn the third seed in the league tournament, the Tigers’ hopes ended in an 11-10 overtime loss in a tournament semifinal to eventual champion Drexel.

“It was definitely disappointing not being able to put ourselves in position to win that again,” Nadelen said. “We definitely had chances. I don’t think we were playing our best lacrosse at the end of the year, which is when you want to do that. That’s something I’ve got to evaluate as a coach and figure out how I can correct that and find a way for our team to be successful during that stretch. We expect to win our conference and we expect to be in the NCAA tournament and compete for the NCAA championship. Our guys understand that, and they’re as disappointed as we are.”

** Through the first nine games, the offense scored 87 goals, averaging 9.7. In the team’s last six contests, the unit scored just 40 times, which dropped the average to 6.7. With the exception of Seider, the team’s offensive woes seemed to touch every player.

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