While Towson's 10-7 loss to Colonial Athletic Association foe Delaware on Saturday might have stunned some, coach Shawn Nadelen was not surprised.
In a 15-6 thrashing of Binghamton on March 26, the Tigers trailed 3-1 in the first quarter. In an 11-7 victory over Drexel on April 2, the team was in a 3-2 hole early in the second period. And in an 11-8 win at Massachusetts on April 9, Towson found itself in a 2-0 deficit in the first 6 minutes, 3 seconds.
That trend continued Saturday as the No. 12 Tigers (10-2 overall and 2-1 in the CAA) trailed 3-0 in the first 2:20 and 5-2 after the first quarter against the Blue Hens. This time, Towson couldn't come back.
Nadelen said the spate of slow starts is worrisome.
"Unfortunately, it's a game we've been flirting with playing in the past three or four games, in terms of not coming out of the locker room ready to go in the first quarter," he said Tuesday morning. "Delaware did a great job taking advantage of that. They scored off the first faceoff, and in the ensuing possessions, they scored on their first five shots, and that's a team that was dialed in and ready to roll. For us, that's a defense that was not focused and not ready to make stops."
The setback dropped Towson one game behind Fairfield (7-6, 3-0) in the conference race, but the Tigers can reassume control in the CAA by defeating the Stags at noon Saturday at Johnny Unitas Stadium in Towson. That's why Nadelen is not panicking over the loss to Delaware.
"I don't think too much is broken for us," he said. "It's more of a lack of concentration and focus and coming out with that edge and ready to play. I wonder if we had gotten a little complacent in the past few games, early on. Teams come out and are coming at us full bore and not that we're not ready for it, but we're just playing at that high level early on in games and it takes us getting smacked around a little bit to wake up and get our feet underneath us and step up our play. As this season winds down, you can't do that against anybody. I think we've got to understand that edge, that sharpness, that focus needs to be established."