Junior attackman Thomas DeNapoli’s fourth goal of the game with 64 seconds left in overtime propelled Towson to a 9-8 decision over Mercer last Sunday – an outcome that netted the team its first win of the season. But the Tigers (1-3) didn’t get much aid from their faceoff specialists.
Freshmen Conor Pequigney and Zack Gregory and junior Austin Lyons combined to win just 8-of-20 draws. Pequigney’s 1-of-3 outing was especially surprising considering his 10-of-23 effort in a 14-9 loss to then-No. 1 Loyola on Feb. 20.
“I thought he was going to give us some confidence as a guy we could rely on,” coach Shawn Nadelen said Friday morning. “We put him out there for the first three, and he won just one of them. That’s kind of my mentality, that you get three attempts and if you’re not doing well, we’re going to go to the next guy. I still have faith in Conor. There will be times when he’ll be that guy we can lean on again. It was tough not to see him start out well against Mercer.”
For the season, Towson is winning just 38.2 percent of its faceoffs this season. Pequigney (16-of-35 for 45.7 percent), Gregory (14-of-33 for 42.4 percent) and Lyons (3-of-14 for 21.4 percent) have yet to seize the starting job, which has been troubling for Nadelen.
“The past two games, we had to go through three guys before we found someone that was pretty consistent,” he said. “We just haven’t seen consistent play from any of the guys that we’ve faced off. That’s frustrating. The faceoff position is about matchups and somebody’s strengths versus somebody else’s strengths. We’re still looking to find that guy that if we can get him to take at least two-thirds or three-quarters of the draws, that would really help us in terms of knowing who can depend on. But it also comes down to our wing play. Those guys need to help us out. We’re adjusting those things, and making sure we’re a little bit more intelligent coming off the wings to help out in that situation.”
The Tigers’ win against Mercer helped the team avoid the program’s first 0-4 start. Despite the slow start, Nadelen still believes that Towson can make some waves this season.
“I think for our guys, the win allowed them to take a deep breath and know that the hard work they put in can pay off with a win,” he said. “And the way that we did it – coming from behind in the fourth quarter with three goals in about a minute-and-a-half span and then winning in overtime – shows that we’ve got a lot of fight in us. We’re a team that can be dangerous at times. We’ve just got to be able to put an entire game together offensively and defensively and hopefully perform at our best.”