Division I men’s lacrosse preview for Towson Tigers

Division I men’s lacrosse preview for Towson Tigers
The Towson men's lacrosse program will lean on a defense that includes short-stick defensive midfielder Jimmie Wilkerson, left, and defenseman Sid Ewell, right, to try to repeat as Colonial Athletic Association champion. (Steve Ruark / Baltimore Sun)

Monday’s entry is the sixth of a series taking a look at each of the seven Division I programs in the state according to their order of finish from last season. The Baltimore Sun’s men’s lacrosse preview is scheduled to be published on Friday, Feb. 9. Friday’s visit was with Loyola Maryland. This is Towson’s turn.

Overview: The Tigers came close, but could not match the 2016 squad’s school-record 16 wins. But that hardly seemed like a setback after the team had marched to its first NCAA tournament semifinal since 2001. Towson finished with a 12-5 overall record and a 4-1 mark in the Colonial Athletic Association and collected its fourth conference tournament championship in the last five years. The Tigers were picked by the league coaches as a preseason favorite to win the title again.


Reason for optimism: A defense that ranked fourth in Division I after allowing only 7.7 goals per game may be in a good place with the return of all three starting defensemen.

Senior Sid Ewell (24 ground balls, 12 caused turnovers), junior Chad Patterson (26 GB, 15 CT) and sophomore Gray Bodden (25 GB, 7 CT) are back for another season again, and their cohesion will go a long way in solidifying that end of the field.

“It gives us some consistency in an area that we would like to be a strong suit in our program,” coach Shawn Nadelen said. “Having those guys and their chemistry helps us out. That’s definitely a nice thing.”

Reason for pessimism: One of the top priorities for the Tigers is finding a new starting attack.

Gone are Ryan Drenner (30 goals, 29 assists), Joe Seider (35 G, 10 A) and Tyler Konen (9 G, 14 A). Juniors Dylan Kinnear (6 G) and Timmy Monahan (a Maryland transfer), redshirt junior Johnny Giuffreda and sophomore Drew Laundry (1 G) are competing for playing time.

“I think one of the big pieces is trying to see who’s going to be able to do what for you,” Nadelen said. “Obviously, we need three new bodies there, and Drew Laundry is a guy that played a bit for us down there last year. So it’s good to have him back as a sophomore. And we’re seeing how the other pieces we have fit and how they fit into the different roles.”

Keep an eye on: The offense suffered more blows in the midfield with the graduation of starters Mike Lynch (22 G, 6 A) and Tyler Young (13 G, 3 A).

Juniors Jon Mazza (16 G, 4 A) and Cole Robertson (3 G) are the leading candidates to compose the first midfield. Nadelen was hesitant to reveal any other potential starters, but admitted that expectations are high for Mazza.

“We are looking for him to have more of a leadership presence because he’s one of the more seasoned guys there for us and has played a lot of games and minutes,” Nadelen said. “So we’re looking for him to be more of a leader with the other guys around him and be a little bit better. Him and Cole Robertson are kind of the two returning guys, and getting those two guys out there will hopefully result in some good things.”

What he said: Losing long-stick midfielder Tyler Mayes (44 GB, 40 CT) and short-stick defensive midfielder Jack Adams (17 GB, 6 CT) will have an impact on the defensive midfield. But their absence was noticeable in Towson’s clearing game in scrimmages against Bucknell and Hobart on Jan. 20.

“It was more about our personnel and getting guys used to actually moving their feet to move the ball,” Nadelen said. “There were some mental lapses that we just didn’t do a good job of fighting through in the live action that we drill and work on. But when you get out there against another team, it’s a little different because there’s a little more pressure and more exciting whether it’s a scrimmage or a game. That’s where your mental toughness has to come through and you have to stay calm and poised and execute.”