Towson men's lacrosse coach Shawn Nadelen (seen here in file art) was pleased to see the offense generate scoring chances that led to the No. 19 Tigers' 15-13 win against Mount St. Mary's on Saturday. Kim Hairston/Baltimore Sun.
Towson men's lacrosse coach Shawn Nadelen (seen here in file art) was pleased to see the offense generate scoring chances that led to the No. 19 Tigers' 15-13 win against Mount St. Mary's on Saturday. Kim Hairston/Baltimore Sun. (Kim Hairston / Baltimore Sun)

For the second week in a row, the Towson men’s lacrosse team got off to a slow start and appeared to be on track for a long afternoon against visiting Mount St. Mary’s.

But something changed in the second quarter. Specifically, the No. 19 Tigers found the offensive rhythm they had been lacking in their season-opening loss at then-No. 13 Johns Hopkins, kicking off a 7-0 run that propelled them to a 15-13 win over the Mountaineers before an announced 582 at Johnny Unitas Stadium in Towson on Saturday.

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The output was a welcome departure from the 14-6 setback to the Blue Jays on Feb. 10, but for coach Shawn Nadelen, the number of scoring chances were almost as important as the final score.

Towson men’s lacrosse left with more questions about offense

Decimated by graduation, No. 14 Towson’s offense looked like a shell of its former self in Saturday night’s 14-6 loss to No. 13 Johns Hopkins.

“We’ve always believed that we want to score on the opportunities that we have,” he said. “If we’re playing a team that we’re generating a lot of good looks against but we’re missing the cage, we’re going to be disappointed in that. If we’re generating good looks and we’re finishing the ball, that’s what we want. We want to be able to generate great opportunities and finish them off. We don’t really put a number on it – 15, 10, seven, whatever it is. We want to be able to let the offense dictate our opportunities and then finish them off.”

Towson evened its record at 1-1, but that prospect seemed distant after Mount St. Mary’s got goals from freshman midfielder Luke Frankeny and sophomore midfielder Matt Haggerty to assume a 2-0 lead just 5:05 into the first quarter.

The Tigers rebounded to take a 5-4 lead after the first period, but junior attackman Chris DiPretoro’s second goal of the game pulled the Mountaineers into a 5-5 tie with 12:46 left in the second quarter.

That’s when Towson rediscovered its shooting touch, running off seven consecutive goals over a 9:47 span. Junior Jon Mazza, who shifted from the midfield to start at attack, scored one goal and two assists during the spurt, and junior attackman Timmy Monahan added one goal and one assist.

The key, according to Mazza, was playing without any timidity as the players did a week ago.

“I think we just came out aggressive,” said Mazza, who finished with three goals and two assists. “Kids like [junior midfielders] Brendan Sunday and Grant Maloof kept shooting the ball and did not play scared, did not play hesitant at all. We just kept playing aggressive.”

Another factor was the play of junior faceoff specialist Alex Woodall. With assistance from junior midfielder Zach Goodrich and freshman long-stick midfielder Koby Smith, the Annapolis resident and St. Mary’s graduate won three of four faceoffs preceding the Tigers’ first four goals in that run, giving the offense additional possession time and momentum.

“I think it’s always good when the first few faceoffs get us going fast because then we can play our game,” said Woodall, who won 21 of 31 draws and collected 14 ground balls to become the first player in program history to win 20 faceoffs since Matt Eckerl went 20-for-25 on May 14, 2005. “I thought we did a good job scouting them. Their faceoff guy is more of a scrapper than a technical guy. So we just had to put the ball in the right place.”

Towson needed every bit of those seven goals because Mount St. Mary’s put together a furious comeback in the fourth quarter. Sophomore attackman Brenden McCarthy had two goals and two assists as the Mountaineers outscored the Tigers 5-2 in the final period before Towson grabbed possession of the ball and ran out the clock to cement the victory.

After squandering a 7-3 advantage in the second quarter in a 16-12 loss at Delaware on Feb. 10, Mount St. Mary’s now knows the sting of falling short.

“The Delaware game repeated itself with some unforced turnovers and being unlucky in the game,” Mountaineers coach Tom Gravante said. “That changed the momentum and has luck going in the other direction for Towson today. Once we adjusted and settled our guys down, I think things started going back in the right direction.”

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