The regular-season finale on Saturday will be hugely important for Towson.
A victory for the No. 16 Tigers (9-4, 3-1 in the Colonial Athletic Association) at Drexel (6-7, 2-2) will guarantee the top seed and homefield advantage in the conference tournament. But a loss – combined with the outcomes of games pitting Delaware (4-10, 0-4) at Massachusetts (4-8, 2-2) and Hofstra (5-8, 2-2) at Fairfield (8-5, 3-1) – could leave Towson out of the playoff picture entirely.
"If we win, we are assured of the No. 1 seed and hosting," coach Shawn Nadelen said Wednesday morning. "If we lose, there's a possibility we could not even be in the tournament, which is one of the crazier scenarios out there. But it goes to show the strength of our conference and how competitive it is. Our guys are aware of it, but we're just focused on getting back to playing the way we're capable of and understanding what that takes every day in practice. But yeah, it's an interesting dynamic."
Saturday's 9-2 loss to Hofstra prevented the Tigers from sewing up a berth in the league tournament. But they got some relief later that day when Drexel lost, 12-9, at Massachusetts, and that's how they still control their own destiny with regards to capturing the No. 1 seed and playing host to the CAA tournament on April 30 and May 2.
"Still being in the driver's set is a nice thing, but we've got to hit the field on Saturday with a much better team effort than what we showed in our previous game," Nadelen said. "That's really more of what we're concerned about. Driver's seat or not, we need to be able to play much better lacrosse this Saturday."
The possibility of sitting out of the conference tournament – however unlikely it is – would seem to be all the fuel needed to light a fire under the players, but Nadelen said he hopes the memory of Saturday's loss is even greater inspiration.
"I think the motivation lies in what we looked like on Saturday and knowing that's not the way we are," he said. "That's something we're preaching in practice and demanding from the guys in regards to effort and excitement. At this time of the year, you want to play your best lacrosse and we didn't show that on Saturday. For us to hopefully get in to the CAA tournament and continue on through that, we've got to be able to dial it back up. That's really what we're focusing on."