Mount St. Mary’s hasn’t beaten Towson since March 26, 1975, when the Mountaineers (1-1) escaped with a 1-0 decision. The Tigers (1-2) have won six of the seven contests in this series, including last year’s 11-3 rout in Emmittsburg. Towson is trying to avoid a 1-3 start for the fifth consecutive season. Here are a few factors that could play a role in the outcome at Johnny Unitas Stadium in Towson on Saturday.
1) Finding teammates. Mount St. Mary’s has scored 17 goals in two contests, but only two of those goals have been assisted. In fact, the offense upended then-No. 18 Delaware, 12-10, without a single helper. Coach Tom Gravante said he wants to see the offense share the ball. “It can’t be a one-on-one game,” he said. “If things tend to break down offensively, then we need to be patient, pull it out, re-organize, and go after them again. … It creates long stretches of possession, which will eventually lead to the shot you want, and that’s what we need to do.”
2) Employing the zone. The Tigers limped to a 3-10 record last season, but used a zone defense to surrender just 8.2 goals per game. Considering that No. 1 Virginia used a similar strategy in Tuesday’s 17-5 victory, Towson might be tempted to do the same against the Mountaineers. Coach Shawn Nadelen, however, was prepared to tip his hand. “It’s always something that we have in our bag of tricks defensively, and I think it’s something that our guys do understand fairly well,” he said. “I know that Virginia ran some zone against Mount St. Mary’s and did a pretty good job with that. But I’m sure that the Mount is going to be prepared for that, and we’re just going to have to see if what we’re running is working. If it’s not, then zone might be something that we go to – among other things as well.”
3) Catching momentum. The Mountaineers are coming off a poor showing against the Cavaliers, and as mentioned above, they have a tortured history against the Tigers. Still, Nadelen wasn’t sure whether that qualified as a psychological edge for his team. “I know we’re not looking at it that way on our end,” he said. “Potentially, if it did have any effect, our guys have no preconceived ideas that this will be an easy game.” Towson is reeling from back-to-back losses, which might be the remedy for Mount St. Mary’s. But Gravante said he is expecting an emotional Tigers squad in its home opener. “They’re going to be agitated to get back on track and even up the record at 2-2,” he said. “So we certainly can’t go in there under any assumption but to play hard.”