Review & preview: Towson
Here’s 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. Tuesday’s visit takes us to Towson.
The good: The Tigers’ 3-10 record overshadowed the play of the defense, which finished the season allowing an average of 8.2 goals, which ranks 15th in Division I. that unit’s leader was senior defenseman Marc Ingerman, who was the only player on the team to be named to the Colonial Athletic Association second team. “He’s a kid who we could put on their best player and know that the kid wasn’t going to have an awesome day, that Marc was going to do the job that he needed to do,” former coach Tony Seaman said. “He’s also a tough kid, and I thought he played well all year long.” … Another defensive standout was senior short-stick defensive midfielder Peter Mezzanotte, who broke Ted Turnblacer’s previous school record of 92 caused turnovers with 95 of his own. Mezzanotte also displayed some prowess on offense, adding four goals and 14 assists. “I was really impressed throughout the year by Peter Mezzanotte and what he was able to accomplish,” Seaman said. “He set the career record for caused turnovers. He’s only a short-stick middie, and he’s got more caused turnovers than any defenseman who has ever played here. That’s an amazing stat. … He was terrific all year long.” … Sophomore attackman Matt Hughes emerged as the team’s most potent playmaker, leading Towson in points (24) and goals (18). There’s room for Hughes to continue his development, according to Seaman. “He’s got things to work on,” Seaman said of Hughes. “He finished well for us, but he needs to finish better around the cage, and he needs to develop more as a dodger and feeder. I think that’s going to be a big emphasis for him over the next year.”
The bad: A Tigers offense that struggled to average 9.3 goals last season slowed to a crawl this past spring. The unit’s averaged just 7.9 goals and put less than 40 percent of its shots on net in two of its first four contests. “We do a chart of our shots every year, and it’s amazing how many good shots we got and how many times we missed the cage,” Seaman said. “The other thing is, nine of the teams that we played are in the top 15 in defense. … And we also hit 39 pipes, while the other teams had 17 throughout the course of the year. Usually, that balances out. That was pretty one-sided.” … After compiling 15 goals and 18 assists a year ago, senior attackman Tim Stratton regressed, finishing with eight goals and 12 assists. Stratton usually drew opponents’ best defensemen, but Seaman said the team really needed Stratton. “He was our third leading scorer last year, and we didn’t get the kind of production out of him that we really expected,” Seaman said. “… I think he hit more pipes than he had goals this year.” … Towson’s poor showing this season led to Seaman’s dismissal. Under Seaman, the Tigers made the Final Four in 2001 and four more NCAA tournament trips in the next six years, but those appearances disappeared over the last four seasons. Towson is 2-16 against Johns Hopkins, Maryland, Loyola, UMBC and Navy over that same span.
Personnel changes: The Tigers graduate three starters in Stratton, Ingerman and midfielder Pat Britton (15 goals, 3 assists) and an everyday contributor in Mezzanotte. Finding an offensive quarterback to replace Stratton is a priority. “Somebody’s going to have to step up there – either [Hughes] or [junior attackmen Matt] Lamon or [Sean] Maguire,” Seaman said. “They all have their own little things that they do well and their own little things that they need to work on to become more of an all-around player.” … Losing Ingerman hurts, but Seaman thinks redshirt freshman John Fennessy has the tools to be the top defenseman. “I think John Fennessy really stepped up,” Seaman said. “He really did a good job. He’s a naturaI leader. He’s very intense. He’s more of a takeaway, aggressive guy than Marc Ingerman is. I think John will step up and take over that role.” … Senior goalkeeper Travis Love reportedly has another year of eligibility left. If he returns, Love, who recorded a 7.94 goals-against average and a .552 save percentage, could alleviate what otherwise would have been an unstable situation. That, however, doesn’t mean that redshirt sophomore Andrew Wascavage and redshirt freshman Jake Graves won’t compete for playing time.
Forecast for 2012: Stormy. The decision to promote associate head coach and defensive coordinator Shawn Nadelen to head coach offers continuity to the program, and Nadelen’s background and strong will could be a recipe for success. But Towson has a long hill to climb as the offense is in need of an injection of adrenaline, especially in the midfield. If Fennessy can step in for Ingerman on defense, that should help Love if he holds off Wascavage and Graves for the starting goalie position. It’ll be interesting to see if the Tigers – after watching Virginia capture the 2011 national championship on the strength of a zone defense – retains the same strategy for next season. Towson is well aware that it won’t get any sympathy from CAA rivals Delaware, Hofstra, Massachusetts, Penn State and Drexel.