Every game seems to be a statement game for Towson State, but this is the one that will speak volumes for the Tigers in any postseason playoff debate.
No. 6 Towson State (3-0) will play host to No. 4 Syracuse (2-1) today at 1 p.m. at Minnegan Stadium.
"I've been telling our guys all along that to be somebody, you've got to beat somebody," said Carl Runk, Towson State's coach.
Syracuse is somebody. The Orangemen have Roy Simmons Jr., one of the game's best coaches. The Orangemen have an all-time record of 605-251-15. They have won five of the past 11 NCAA championships, including the title last year.
They are the elite.
"They don't get any better than Syracuse," said Runk. "They have great ability and are incredible to watch. Shoot, their starting defensemen would be our midfielders if they came to TSU."
And on the other end of the spectrum is Towson State. The Tigers usually get leftover recruits. Their coach is not from the prestigious Ivy League, but from a blue-collar neighborhood in East Baltimore.
Runk, though, is tied with Simmons (233) for second behind Cornell's Richie Moran (242) for active coaches with the most victories. But each year Towson has to fight to get into the 12-team Division I playoffs.
A win against Syracuse cuts down on the arguments. Even a good showing against the Orangemen works in Towson's favor.
"We can't afford to lose any games," said Runk. "We put this game in the same class as Maryland. Big."
Towson has to slow Syracuse's offense in the same manner as Johns Hopkins did a week ago, when the Blue Jays upset the Orangemen, 19-14, at Homewood Field. Towson has the
potential, especially in faceoff men Mark Goers and Tim Lucky.
Towson also has to be selective on shots. Attackmen David Quinn and Dudley Dixon lead the Tigers in scoring with 12 and eight goals, respectively.
"To try and run with those guys would be absolutely insane," said Runk. "We're going to have to play a near perfect game."
Syracuse (2-1) at Towson State (3-0)
Site: Minnegan Stadium
Time: 1 p.m.
Radio: WITH (1230 AM)
Outlook: After winning their first three games on the road, the No. 6 Tigers play host to No. 4 Syracuse, which is coming off its first loss in 13 games, a 19-14 decision at Johns Hopkins last Saturday. Towson State M Stewart Crotty has back-to-back three-goal, one-assist games, and sophomore M Mark Goers, who has lost only 12 of 66 faceoffs this season, scored twice and picked up a team-high 10 ground balls in a 15-13 win over Penn State. These Tigers midfielders will be strongly tested by their Syracuse All-America counterparts of Charlie Lockwood (8 goals, assists), Dom Fin (4, 5) and Roy Colsey (5, 1). Towson State, which lost to the Orangemen by seven goals last year, has not beaten Syracuse since 1973.
Navy (3-2) at Delaware (3-1)
Delaware Field, Newark, Del.
Time: 1 p.m.
Outlook: No. 16 Delaware is playing decent lacrosse, but Navy might be out of the Blue Hens' league. No. 12 Navy's losses have been to Virginia and Duke, both members of the Atlantic Coast Conference. Scoring shouldn't be a problem for Navy with A Rob Bailey (7, 11) and A Charles Bertrand (10-6), but the Middies' defense is suspect. Delaware will counter with A
Anthony DiMarzo (4, 16) and Brad Giowanki. The Blue Hens seem to melt late in the half, having been outscored 19-7 in the second and 17-9 in the fourth quarters.
Johns Hopkins (3-1) at Virginia (3-1)
Site: Klockner Stadium, Charlottesville, Va.
Time: 2 p.m.
Radio: WOLB (1010 AM)
Outlook: The key is how well the Blue Jays respond after last week's 19-14 emotional win over Syracuse. No. 2 Johns Hopkins turned in its best offensive showing of the season against the Orangemen, and the Blue Jays will need another stellar effort if they are to beat No. 5 Virginia. Attackmen Terry Riordan (21 goals, 6 assists) and Brian Piccola (13, 5) lead the Blue Jays. Attackmen Tim Whiteley (8, 11) and Michael Watson (7, 6) pace the Cavaliers. Johns Hopkins must also get an outstanding game from G Jonathan Marcus.
Loyola (4-0) at Brown (1-2)
Site: Stevenson Field, Providence, R.I.
Time: 2 p.m.
Outlook: No. 11 Brown may be struggling this season, but the Bears seem to have Loyola's number. Brown holds a 5-1 'D advantage in the series, with Loyola's last win coming two years ago. The No. 3 Greyhounds' balanced scoring attack, though, might be too much for Brown. Eight players have scored for Loyola, which is led by A Sean Heffernan (7, 15) and A Derek Radebaugh (11, 3). A David Evans has 10 goals and three assists for Brown.
Maryland (4-1) at North Carolina (3-3)
Site: Fetzer Field, Chapel Hill, N.C.
Time: 2 p.m.
Outlook: No. 7 Maryland and No. 8 North Carolina will be a test of which team has rebounded best. The Terps, who were out-played in a 14-7 loss to Towson State on March 12, have their first test after allowing only four goals in their last six quarters against mediocre Cornell and Ohio State. The Tar Heels lost three of their first four -- all to teams in the top four -- but have averaged 22 goals in wins over Dartmouth and No. 9 Duke. North Carolina will look to attack Terps G Brian Dougherty, who has raised his save percentage to .620. The Terps have lost to North Carolina twice every year since 1990, and have not been within five goals of the Tar Heels in five of those eight defeats. Maryland is looking to go 2-0 in the ACC for the first time since 1989.
UMBC (4-2) at VMI (3-2)
Site: Patchin Field, Lexington, Va.
Time: 2 p.m.
Outlook: VMI is playing soundly this season, but the Keydets need to become better finishers, especially on extra-man
offense. A Joe Brockman has 16 points and M Matt McLean is second with 13. UMBC's strength is its midfield, with Jamie Batley (11, 9) and Stewart Walker (10, 5). A Jason Smith leads all Retrievers' scorers with 18 goals and six assists.