Johns Hopkins has dominated this series, winning 39 of 42 meetings and the past 19. Towson is seeking its third victory in its past four season openers.
The Blue Jays (1-0), who walloped UMBC, 16-4, on Saturday, are ranked sixth in the most recent Cascade/Maverik media poll. The offense scored at least 10 goals in its last 15 games, but played without junior midfielder Holden Cattoni, who recorded 29 goals and six assists last spring. Cattoni, who is dealing with an unspecified injury, is a game-time decision.
The Tigers (0-0) return eight of 10 starters, including their entire midfield. But an undisclosed injury sidelined sophomore attackman Joe Seider until last Friday, and junior defenseman Nick Gorman has been slowed by an unspecified ailment.
Here are a few factors that could play a role in the outcome at Johnny Unitas Stadium in Towson on Tuesday at 6 p.m.
1) Eyeballing Brown. Johns Hopkins’ explosion against the Retrievers was powered by junior attackman Ryan Brown. The Sykesville resident and Calvert Hall graduate scored seven goals, the second-highest output of his career. Brown, who has posted five goals and two assists in two meetings with Towson, can shoot from any part of the field, and Tigers coach Shawn Nadelen wasn’t sure – or knew and didn’t want to tip his hand – whether senior defenseman JoJo Ostrander or junior defenseman Mike Lowe, a converted long-stick midfielder, would shadow Brown.
“Ryan’s a terrific lacrosse player,” Nadelen said. “He’s a dynamic shooter. He’s got great lacrosse IQ and he’s really a guy that can play all over the field in their offense. He’s a guy we’re obviously going to be very aware of, and we’ve got to make sure that when he has his hands free, we’re challenging him and crowding him to make sure that we try to make him as uncomfortable as possible. He’s really a catalyst for their offense.”
2) Matching Towson’s energy level. This being the Tigers’ season opener and in the friendly confines of Johnny Unitas Stadium, expect a lot of emotion from the hosts. Meanwhile, the Blue Jays spent some energy in the rout of UMBC, and coach Dave Pietramala is understandably worried that Towson might have the upper hand in terms of scouting and preparation.
“Towson’s had over a month to get ready for this game, and here we are with two days of preparation,” Pietramala said. “It certainly is quite a tall task to get ready for a team that I think is very good. I’d certainly love to have a week to prepare. They return six of their seven top scorers with [attackman Thomas] DeNapoli being the one that graduated.
"And then they return the guy who’s one of the best middies in the country but one of the least talked about ones in [redshirt senior Andrew] Hodgson. And then you add [junior attackman] Spencer Parks to that mix, the transfer from Carolina. They’ve got a very, very formidable group there offensively. So you certainly wish you had more time to prepare.”
3) Fighting for faceoffs? In last year’s meeting that ended in a 15-8 thumping by Johns Hopkins, the team won 65.4 percent of the faceoffs (17-of-26) on the strength of a 69.6 percentage (16-of-23) by junior Drew Kennedy.
Now a senior, Kennedy won just 42.9 percent (3 of 7) of his draws against UMBC, but the Blue Jays got a 72.7 percent effort (8 of 11) from freshman Hunter Moreland and perfect 2-for-2 outings from sophomores Kevin O’Toole and Matt Ledwin. The Tigers will rely on sophomore Alec Burckley to tip the scales in their favor, and Burckley did win 55.6 percent (10 of 18) of his draws in a scrimmage against Maryland.
“That’s been our No. 1 concern, and we’ve put a lot of pressure on Alex and [freshman] Steven Stillwell and [junior] Jed Yousefi to really step up their games and take ownership of that part of the field – and our wing play as well,” Nadelen said. “We know that Hopkins has got a couple really talented guys that are very strong. Our guys are ready for them, and I think Alec got a taste of how he needs to prepare from his success against Maryland. He didn’t do very well scrimmaging Syracuse and Bucknell, and he realized that he’s got to put a little bit more time into practice to compete at a really high level. Those guys are excited about the challenge.”