Slow but sure for Towson's Best

The Baltimore Sun

His numbers are down, but Blake Best's morale is high.

Playing in only his second game of the season, the Towson senior attackman recorded an assist in the No. 19 Tigers' 18-13 loss to No. 2 Virginia on Saturday. He has a goal and two assists this season.

Best, who is returning from a right knee injury that wiped out his 2007 season, said the results, while modest, are encouraging.

"It's getting there," he said. "Lacrosse-wise, I'm getting back. I just need to get in shape and get game-ready. Practice speed is one thing, but game speed is another. We've got a lot of guys who are playing well, so I've got to really work hard to earn my way into the lineup."

Best, a Severna Park native, transferred from Lehigh after missing the 2007 season because of a torn ligament, and he was part of an incoming class brimming with offensive talent.

But the same knee -- though the problem was not related to the repaired ligament, according to Towson coach Tony Seaman -- forced Best to sit out the first two games of the season, and Seaman acknowledged last month that redshirting him was an option.

For Best, however, that idea was never a significant consideration.

"We've got so much talent this year that this is the year that I wanted to be out there and this is the team that I wanted to be out with," he said. "Hopefully, I can get my body ready to go out there and contribute as much as possible."

Best said his objective is to help the Tigers (1-3) get to the NCAA tournament's final four in Foxboro, Mass., in May.

As for personal goals? "Contribute for a full four quarters," he said emphatically. "That's my personal goal."

St. Mary's struggles

A year after compiling a 12-6 record, St. Mary's coach Jayme Block said he had steeled himself to the possibility of the team's 2-5 start this season.

Twenty-three of the 47 Seahawks are freshmen, and eight of them started in Saturday's 16-8 loss to Messiah, including three attackmen and two defensemen.

In addition, freshmen Pat Simpson and J.J. Strombosky have rotated duties in goal, with sophomore Ben Craft unable to play this season because of a concussion and a left thumb that has been broken twice since January.

"We knew going in we would be a much better [team] toward the end of the season rather than in the beginning," said Block, whose team is off to its worst start since opening the 2002 season at 1-6. "We're making mistakes, but we'll turn it around."

Navy thinking 'lead'

Two of the top three teams in the Patriot League will clash when No. 16 Bucknell visits No. 4 Navy today at 4 p.m.

The Bison (5-1, 1-0) have won five straight since dropping their season opener to then-No. 2 Duke, but three of the victories have been by one goal. Bucknell has outscored its opponents 17-3 in the first quarter but has been outscored 50-36 in the second through fourth periods.

"We've got to do a good job defensively against their attack," Midshipmen coach Richie Meade said. "One of the keys is coming out and not falling behind. Getting the lead is going to be important."

Navy (6-1, 3-0) has been playing without junior attackman Bruce Nechanicky, who is recovering from surgery to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament. Meade said he is optimistic Nechanicky will return next season.

edward.lee@baltsun.com

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