Shawn Nadelen wasn’t happy about Towson’s 12-6 loss to No. 5 Johns Hopkins Saturday night, but he reserved a good portion of his anger for the behavior of some of the players representing his alma mater.
The Tigers coach was visibly enraged after Blue Jays senior defenseman Chris Lightner was flagged with 2:43 left in the fourth quarter for an illegal body check that was a non-releasable, one-minute penalty. During a timeout, Nadelen and Johns Hopkins coach Dave Pietramala exchanged some words, and Nadelen said after the contest that he was irked by the way several of Pietramala’s players were reacting to Lightner’s hit.
“I was very upset they were celebrating a very potentially lethal hit,” said Nadelen, a former defenseman who played for Pietramala in 2001, his senior year. “High hits have been emphasized in our game, and their group was hollering and jumping around while the guy could have potentially put one of our guys out of the game. We don’t celebrate penalties. Those put us in a hole. We celebrate good, clean hits like the one [junior short-stick defensive midfielder] Jordan Fortmann had on [senior midfielder] John Ranagan. … I didn’t think it was a very classy reaction from their team, and I vocalized my opinion.”
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Nadelen pointed out that the Blue Jays were flagged four times for one-minute infractions in their 15-6 victory over Siena on Feb. 8, and he said he made it a point to remind the officials of that development.
“Those are personal foul penalties, and I think at least two or three of them were full time served,” Nadelen said. “… I’m going to protect my players. These guys work hard. They’ve got a great opportunity to get a great education and play Division I lacrosse. We’ve had guys get serious head injuries that have hampered them from being able to play. That’s something that I’m glad the refs are trying to pay more attention to, and we’re doing it as a staff, teaching our guys how to hit better. You see it in all sports, the emphasis on that. So that’s what is frustrating to me.”
Pietramala, who spoke before Nadelen did, did not go into great detail regarding Lightner’s penalty or his players’ behavior. Despite what seemed to be a quick handshake between the head coaches after the game, Pietramala had nothing but praise for Nadelen.
“I have the utmost respect for Shawn Nadelen,” Pietramala said. “I think he’s a terrific coach. I think he’s the perfect guy for this job. He played for Johns Hopkins. So he’s one of our guys. I don’t have a problem with Shawn. If he’s got one with me, I hope not.”
After pausing, Pietramala added, “Things get emotional in games.”
Asked if things were ok between him and Pietramala, Nadelen said, “As far as I know. We shook hands.”
*While the starting attack of senior Zach Palmer, junior Brandon Benn and sophomore Wells Stanwick combined for eight goals and four assists, the starting midfield of seniors John Ranagan and John Greeley and junior Rob Guida totaled just one goal and three assists. It was a departure from that trio’s three-goal, three-assist outing in the season-opening rout of Siena on Feb. 8, but Pietramala said the team as a whole could have done more. “I felt like we left a lot out on the table tonight,” he said. “The quality of our opportunities was terrific, and I thought we left a lot out there. I thought [offensive coordinator] Bobby Benson put in a great game plan, I thought the offense did a good job of executing. Unfortunately, I don’t think we were fundamentally sound at times, and shooting is a part of those fundamentals. I was pleased with our attack. … I called our attack out in the paper. I thought they really responded. Now we’re really going to need our attack and midfield to put it together at the same time.”
*Towson’s drought of 26:59 spanning the last three quarters involved some questionable shot selection (more on that later), but also got a hand from the Blue Jays’ stingy defense. Senior defenseman Chris Lightner limited sophomore attackman Cory Dobyns to two goals after he scored four against High Point, senior defenseman Tucker Durkin surrendered just one goal to junior attackman Thomas DeNapoli, and sophomore long-stick midfielder Michael Pellegrino blanked junior midfielder Andrew Hodgson. Senior midfielder Greg Cuccinello did score twice, but that was the plan, according to Pietramala. “We wanted to force guys like Cuccinello and the other guys to have to beat us,” Pietramala said. “I thought Tucker Durkin did a terrific job tonight on DeNapoli. I thought our poles and shorts did a good job on Hodgson. And I thought the whole group including Chris Lightner did a good job on Dobyns, who is a real challenge to prepare for. … I thought they did a good job of limiting the shots that came from the interior, and [senior goalie] Pierce [Bassett] was allowed to see the shots.”
*On the flipside, the Tigers struggled with their shot selection. Less than half of their shots were put on net (18-of-38), and some of the attempts they did make were from beyond 12 yards, which made it easier for Bassett. Nadelen conceded that the offense did at times take the first opportunity rather than being disciplined and trying to find a high-percentage situation. “We had good opportunities from 10 to 12 yards out, and some of those shots were the ones we didn’t put on cage,” he said. “I think we were trying to shoot too fine of a spot instead of putting good, hard shots inside the pipes and challenging the goalie.”