Postscript from Towson at Mount St. Mary's
For all the troubles Towson has endured on offense, the Tigers have been buoyed by the play of their defense.
That unit has surrendered just 16 goals in three games thus far – which averages out to 5.3 goals. Towson, which had been tied with Penn State for 13th in Division I with a 6.5 goals-per-game average, is bound to move up the rankings after allowing just three goals in an eight-goal victory over Mount St. Mary’s Saturday.
Junior defenseman Michael Landy said the players are working in conjunction with associate head coach and defensive coordinator Shawn Nadelen.
“Everybody has to be together and on the same page – whether we’re playing zone or man,” said Landy, who shut out Mountaineers junior attackman Cody Lehrer, who scored 48 goals last spring. “Coach Nadelen does a great job of getting us prepared and giving us the perfect game plan. We know what’s coming at us every single week, and it’s also a testament to what we’re going against from our [offensive] guys every day in practice. They work us to the bone. They know our tendencies, they know what we’re bad at, and then they go at it. They really work us.”
The Tigers (1-2) have been rotating between a man-to-man defense and a zone scheme, which Landy said is being used more frequently this year than in his first two seasons.
“This year, you can definitely tell that we’ve all come together and that we definitely understand it,” Landy said of the zone defense. “It’s really about understanding how to play it. … It’s one of those zones where if you run it right and stick by the rules, it’s tough to beat.”
Coach Tony Seaman said the defense has been the anchor for the team as the offense tries to resolve its issues.
“We’re doing a good job and we’re getting where we’re supposed to be,” he said.
*Towson may have re-discovered its scoring touch against Mount St. Mary’s, but sophomore attackman Matt Hughes wasn’t ready to crown the offense. “We can’t get ahead of ourselves yet,” he said. “We’ve still got a lot of work to do, and we’ve still got to focus on the little things to become a better overall offense.” Hughes, who scored a game-high four points on three goals and one assist, said the players weren’t too worried about their inability to score. “We never had any doubt,” he said. “We just lacked confidence. Once we get that back, we know we can string some goals together and maybe string some wins together. Just got to keep plugging away.”
*Unlike last season when they used a 12-day layoff after a loss to Jacksonville to win five straight contests, the Mountaineers couldn’t take advantage of a 10-day break against the Tigers. Mount St. Mary’s looked sloppy on defense and lethargic on offense. Following the loss, the team held a closed-door meeting for about 15 minutes, and coach Tom Gravante said that the players didn’t follow the script. For instance, the players were told to avoid testing Towson senior goalie Travis Love with high shots, but Gravante estimated that the first four shots were above Love’s waist. “Right now, we can’t coach what isn’t coachable,” Gravante said. “It’s like giving the answers to the exam, but you don’t want to put them on paper. We can’t help you fix the problems.” A little later, however, Gravante said he thinks the team can turn things around. “We’ve got some work to do,” he said. “But I’m confident that these kids will respond and that they’ll trust in me and the staff to do them right.”
*The Mountaineers began last season with a 0-2 start, but rebounded to capture the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference tournament and the automatic qualifier to the NCAA tournament. There is no automatic qualifier with the Northeast Conference, which is Mount St. Mary’s new home, so every loss hurts. “It’s definitely a wake-up call,” said sophomore attackman Andrew Scalley, who scored two goals against the Tigers. “We need to get that first win and get some momentum. So we’re looking to rebound right away with a win on Wednesday against Detroit to get the ball rolling a little more.”