Johns Hopkins at Towson: Three things to watch

The Blue Jays have enjoyed a lopsided relationship with the Tigers, winning 33 of 36 meetings, and Towson hasn’t earned a victory in the series since 1996. Here are a few things I will be looking for from the press box at Johnny Unitas Stadium Wednesday night.

1) Johns Hopkins has long prided itself on the strength of its midfield and defense, but this current squad gets a good deal of horsepower from its attack. When the starting trio of Steven Boyle, Chris Boland and Kyle Wharton registers at least a combined four goals, the Blue Jays are 6-2. Although Boyle tends to draw opponents’ top defender, Tigers coach Tony Seaman said he has been impressed with Boyle’s linemates. "Wharton’s one of the best shooters in the game and has made himself into a hell of a player," Seaman said. "And then they have Boland who just sits there and waits for an opportunity and finishes everything he gets into his stick. They present all kinds of problems on the offensive end."

2) Conversely, Towson’s success has been built on as many as three midfield lines that get thrown into the mix frequently and comfortably. Three of the team’s top four scorers are midfielders, and Will Harrington has been a starter for just the last two contests. When the starting midfield of Randall Cooper, Justin Schneider and either Harrington or Brock Armour, Pat Britton or Harrington combines for at least two goals, the Tigers are 5-2 this season. The midfield should be a key element of Towson’s offense – and the Blue Jays’ defensive game plan.

3) Teams that have had success against Johns Hopkins have been able to go on extended runs and put the Blue Jays in significant deficits (see Princeton, Syracuse and Virginia). But getting distance on Johns Hopkins is easier said than done. Navy tried to break away from the Blue Jays Saturday, but Johns Hopkins was resilient and never let the Midshipmen out of sight. Towson has had mixed results with the lead in its last two games, squandering a three-goal lead in an eventual loss to then-No. 6 Hofstra and turning a one-goal edge into a 10-8 win against Delaware. "We’re not afraid to put it in the icebox if we have to or take some air out of the ball. A 1-0 lead against Hopkins would be one of our first leads against them," said Seaman with tongue firmly planted in cheek. "Maybe we would stall it for the rest of the game."

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