No. 18 Towson has used as many as four different players in an effort to find some consistency on faceoffs, but that search appears to have narrowed to two specialists.
Sophomore Conor Pequigney has taken most of the faceoffs for the Tigers (4-2), but he has won just 44.8 percent (30 of 67) and collected 17 ground balls. Freshman Alec Burckley has fared better, winning 57.5 percent (23 of 40) and scooping up 13 ground balls.
Pequigney played well in Towson’s 9-1 victory over Mount St. Mary’s on March 1, winning 64.3 percent (9 of 14) of the faceoffs and accumulating four ground balls. But he lost all four faceoffs he took in Friday’s 12-9 win over Marist, and Burckley won 52.6 percent (10 of 19) and grabbed a game-high six ground balls.
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“Conor had success on the first faceoff, and then he struggled with the next few,” Tigers coach Shawn Nadelen said. “So we just changed it up, and I thought Alec did a terrific job for us -- not only being able to win the draw, but maintaining possession and getting out of trouble and getting it to the attack and setting up the offense. He really scrapped well, and it’s good to get that from a freshman. Hopefully, we can continue to work with Conor and get him back into a groove and get things rolling.”
The Tigers won’t have much time to practice as Navy (3-2) will visit Johnny Unitas Stadium in Towson on Tuesday at 7 p.m. The Midshipmen boast a strong faceoff specialist in freshman Brady Dove, who has won 61.5 percent (67 of 109) and collected 36 ground balls.
Nadelen wouldn’t say whether Pequigney or Burckley would take the opening faceoff against Navy.
“The past two days of practice, Conor has been back to form,” Nadelen said. “So we’ve got to see how it looks tomorrow night. I think Alec is ready and feeling good after his performance. So we’ll see how we’re looking there.”
A solid outing by the faceoff unit could be significant for an offense that had averaged 8.0 goals in the first five games before scoring a season-high in the win against Marist. It was an encouraging sign for Nadelen.
“We had early success,” he said. "I think our guys got confident early in the offensive end. We were shooting the ball pretty well and putting it on cage where we wanted to. They’re a tough defense, but we knew we’d have opportunities, and I was glad to see our guys capitalize on them early. But I feel like we definitely could’ve extended that and done more damage throughout the fourth quarter. We got shut out in the fourth quarter. I’m not happy about that. So we’ve got to continue to work at it. But putting 12 on the board is good. But it’s got to be a consistent effort.”