Towson capped an end-of-year surge in 2013 by winning the Colonial Athletic Association tournament and securing the automatic qualifier to the NCAA tournament. But that finish masked an inauspicious beginning.
The Tigers opened the schedule on Feb. 8 against High Point, a team that was making its collegiate debut in lacrosse, and lost 9-7.
The embarrassment of that defeat may be hard to shake, but coach Shawn Nadelen insisted that revenge is not a goal for Saturday’s season opener against the Panthers at 11 a.m. at Johnny Unitas Stadium in Towson.
“Obviously, last season is kind of in the back of their minds, but they’re focused on being able to hit the field with everything that we’ve put into this point and playing the way that Towson lacrosse knows how to play,” he said Wednesday.
Asked if there was a sense of redemption in the locker room, Nadelen said: “I haven’t really felt that from the guys. I think the guys are excited about the opportunity to play them again. But as far as redemption, there hasn’t been a lot of talk as far as, ‘We owe these guys,’ or ‘We’ve got to get revenge from last year.’ There hasn’t been that kind of talk. We’re more focused on ourselves and our preparation.”
In that loss to High Point, the Tigers committed 12 of their game-high 19 turnovers in the second and third quarters and misfired on 6 of 20 clears. Those mistakes could be chalked up to first-game jitters, but could similar errors pop up Saturday?
Maybe, Nadelen conceded, which is why he is leery of giving the players too much leeway when it comes to lapses.
“There’s going to be guys that make mental mistakes and might be gripping their stick a little too tight,” he said. “But I think we have enough experience to settle us down earlier rather than later in the game and be able to execute.
"There will be some freshmen out there for the first time in a Division I lacrosse game. So, I’m sure there’s going to be energy and excitement and nerves and all of those things. I’m looking forward to seeing that, but I think that the scrimmages have helped us ease into it a little more and not be on edge as we could have been.
"I’m not going to say that making mistakes is OK. I might just have to manage my manner in which I communicate my pleasure or displeasure with mistakes or effective play.”