Today's entry is the second of a week-long series taking a look at each of the seven Division I programs in this state according to their order of finish from last season. Tune in Sunday for a preview of Loyola, and The Sun's lacrosse preview is slated to be published on Friday, Feb. 12. Today is Towson's turn.
Overview: The Tigers fell to Villanova in the Colonial Athletic Association Tournament final, missing out on the NCAA Tournament for the third time in the last four years. But Towson was coming off a 5-9 campaign in 2008, and the team mixed in a fair amount of freshman and sophomore talent with the experienced veterans. Things don’t get any easier with the addition of Massachusetts and Penn State to the conference, but the Tigers have the potential to make some waves.
Reason for optimism: Towson’s defense will likely pace the team until a still-developing offense finds its rhythm. Sophomore defenseman Marc Ingerman made the CAA All-Rookie squad last spring, and senior Joe Wascavage and sophomore Michael Landy figure to start at the other close defense positions. The goalie spot is hotly contested, but senior Rob Wheeler (8.97 goals-against average and a .557 save percentage) is expected to start for the second consecutive year. "It’s probably his job to lose," coach Tony Seaman said of Wheeler, a Friends graduate. "He’s got another year under him, and we expect him to play better."
Reason for pessimism: A face-off role that bid farewell to Mitchell Rosensweig (.559 percentage and a team-high 109 groundballs) was weakened by a season-ending knee injury to sophomore Ian Mills. Redshirt freshman Matt Thomas will likely start and sophomore Andrew Poulos and freshman Ryan DeSmit (Friends) will have to contribute to make up for Mills’ absence. "He’s gone for the spring," Seaman said of Mills. "That’s a big loss."
Keep an eye on: The attack graduated Bill McCutcheon, who led the team in goals (23) and assists (15) last spring, but Seaman firmly believes that junior Tim Stratton (16, 8) can emerge as that unit’s quarterback. Add sophomore starters Matt Lamon (4, 9) and Sean Maguire (9, 1) and a promising duo in sophomore Steven Norris and freshman Matt Hughes, and Seaman likes what he has. "I think Stratton can step up and develop into that role," the coach said. "Matt Lamon’s a pretty good feeder, and Maguire and Norris are finishers. I hope they can complement each other."
What he said: The Tigers’ schedule is rated as one of the toughest in the country as it is littered with seven NCAA Tournament qualifiers (Hofstra, Johns Hopkins, Maryland, Massachusetts, Navy, UMBC and Virginia) and three teams that finished second in their leagues (Loyola in the ECAC, Stony Brook in the America East and Bucknell in the Patriot League). Tongue firmly planted in cheek, Seaman berated himself for arranging a difficult schedule. "It’s a hell of a measuring stick," he said. "I want our schedule to be as challenging as it can get. You’ve got a big-time facility, you’re in a big-time area for lacrosse, and all of our games kind of make sense. … There’s just no Saturdays off."