Review & preview: Towson
Here’s the third 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. Wednesday, we take a visit with Towson.
The good: A torturous schedule opened with a 1-5 start, but the Tigers rebounded to capture the Colonial Athletic Association regular-season championship and the No. 1 seed in the league tournament before losing to Delaware in the championship final. "I thought we handled the adversity in the first part of the year really well and then got on some pretty good momentum going into the second half and into our CAA schedule," coach Tony Seaman said. "Very happy with the CAA regular-season championship. I thought the kids deserved that." … A young attack unit seemed to find its rhythm, and Seaman will likely lean on junior Tim Stratton (15 goals and 18 assists), freshman Matt Hughes (13, 4), sophomore Matt Lamon (10, 4), sophomore Stephen Norris (11, 2) and sophomore Sean Maguire to repeat their performance. "We like all five of those guys," Seaman said. … Freshman Ben Strauss emerged as a budding defenseman, shutting out Maryland junior attackman Ryan Young (he scored two goals when Strauss was marking someone else) and limiting Navy junior attackman Andy Warner to a single assist. Strauss ranked second on the team in caused turnovers (seven) and had collected 13 groundballs in five starts before suffering a severe bone bruise in his knee that sidelined him for the remainder of the season. "You never like to see anybody get hurt, but thank God it was before he had used up his redshirt medical year," Seaman said. "So we get him for an extra year, and that’s a good thing."
The bad: Towson’s offense struggled at times, averaging just 9.3 goals per game this season. The unit’s inability to convert scoring opportunities was most visible in the CAA Tournament final against Delaware when Stratton was alone with junior goalie Noah Fossner, but after multiple fakes, Statton’s shot caromed off of Fossner’s helmet, preserving an 11-9 lead with 2:10 left in the fourth quarter. "We had some great chances in that Delaware game and didn’t come through," Seaman said. "When you get those kinds of things in a championship game, you’ve got to take advantage." … As well as sophomore goalkeeper Travis Love (a 9.24 goals-against average and a .556 save percentage) played, the defense surrendered 10.1 goals per game. And the unit will lose a pair of starters in Joe Wascavage and Cameron Zook (23 groundballs) and a key reserve in David Edens. But Seaman is optimistic that with the return of close defenseman Marc Ingerman and Strauss and short-stick defensive midfielders Peter Mezzanotte (47 groundballs and 30 caused turnovers), Kevin Lalley and Andrew Poulos, the defense will continue to be an area of strength next year. "And [sophomore] Mike Landy has played a lot for us over the last two years. [Freshman] John Fennessy redshirted this year, and he was an [Under Armour] All American in high school," Seaman said. "I think those kids give us a really, really good chance."
Personnel changes: The Tigers graduate their top two scorers in midfielders Christian Pastirik (28, 19) and Will Harrington (28, 6). Brock Armour (4, 10) will also be missed. Junior Pat Britton (7, 6) will be back, but developing a few linemates will be a priority during the offseason. "Got to find some people who can score some goals," Seaman said. "I think [sophomore Carl] Iacona is going to be good, and I think we have a really good base of guys who are very similar. … We’ve got [junior] Scott Ruhl and [junior] Michael Brashears who have the potential to be really, really good ballplayers. They just need to work really hard in the offseason and step up. [Junior] Matt Hantschze is another kid who we expect some good things from." … The incoming freshman class includes an Under Armour All American in midfielder Andrew Hodgson and more midfielders in Tommy Denapoli, Robbie Flacco and Kurt Mueller. "I just think it’s as good a class as I’ve been able to bring in here in a long time offensively," Seaman said. "I’m really excited about it, and I just think the potential is incredible."
Forecast for 2011: Clearing. The defense should be much improved with Love gaining confidence as the undisputed starter and Ingerman and Strauss containing opponents’ attackmen. Another year of experience can only benefit the attack, but the key will be developing consistent midfield lines to support the attack. Iacona figures to join Britton as starters, while Ruhl and Brashears will be battling with Hodgson for the third starter’s spot. CAA champion Delaware loses quite a bit of its offensive punch, but Hofstra, Massachusetts and Drexel could be poised to block Towson from a repeat regular-season crown.