By Edward Lee, The Baltimore Sun
9:30 PM EDT, March 11, 2013
These two sides have split the last six meetings, but Navy won last year’s contest, 10-6, at Johnny Unitas Stadium. Towson (2-4) is still smarting from a 10-9 overtime setback to Marist last Friday night in which neither team scored in the fourth quarter and the Tigers failed to score on an extra-man opportunity. Navy (3-3) snapped a three-game losing skid with a 12-11 decision against Lafayette last Saturday. The starting attack of juniors Sam Jones and Tucker Hull and freshman T.J. Hanzsche combined for eight goals and two assists. Here are a few factors that could influence the outcome at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis Tuesday night.
1) Navy’s Nolan Hickey. At 6 feet, 7 inches and 247 pounds, senior Nolan Hickey is the largest goalkeeper in Division I. He has registered a 9.11 goals-against average and a .584 save percentage in his first year as the full-time starter, but he’s not invincible, according to Towson coach Shawn Nadelen. “Teams have been able to score against them,” Nadelen said. “I think the tougher part is getting past their defense and then being able to get a good shot against him because he is a huge presence in the cage and he takes up a lot of the six-by-six area. I think the challenge for us is working to get to good spots to be able to shoot. Against a guy like that, low-angled shots aren’t really your best opportunities to score. So we’ve got to get in front of the cage and get as much angle to shoot the ball to good areas. He’s good, and he makes a lot of saves. But we also know he’s given up goals, so we know he’s not impenetrable.”
2) Towson’s Thomas DeNapoli. Thomas DeNapoli has made the smooth transition from midfield to attack. The junior leads the offense in both goals (18) and points (21), and his 3.0 goal-per-game average is tied for seventh in the country. DeNapoli’s threat on offense wasn’t lost on Midshipmen coach Rick Sowell. “He seems to be their go-to guy on offense,” Sowell said, adding that senior Austin Miller or junior Nik Mullen could shadow DeNapoli. “… Either one of them is capable of defending DeNapoli. I know DeNapoli likes to move around and he could be in the midfield, which of course would mean that [junior long-stick midfielder] Pat Kiernan would draw the assignment of covering if and when he does rotate up to the midfield. Depending on the situation, any of those three could find himself on him, and we certainly feel good about those three and how they’re playing these days.”
3) Towson’s slow starts. The Tigers have had a tough time getting out of the gate. Opponents have outscored Towson 15-8 in the first quarters and 17-10 in the third periods. Nadelen said the team’s struggles in the opening quarters can be traced to a need to play with more discipline. “I think we just need to settle down and play a lot more organized, a lot more composed,” he said. “That’s something that I think our team is struggling with right now. We’re playing with real good energy and we’re competing. We’re just not playing extremely smart. We’re not playing intelligent lacrosse at times, and that’s something that we’ve got to continue to emphasize in practice.”
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