While 14 of the 18 men's lacrosse teams in the NCAA Division I tournament get six or seven days to prepare for their first-round games, Towson does not have that luxury.
Because the Tigers own one of the four lowest RPIs of the programs that qualified for the postseason, they must participate in one of two play-in games scheduled for Wednesday.
Towson (11-5) will welcome High Point (10-6) to Johnny Unitas Stadium at 7:30 p.m. Bryant (8-9) will meet Marist (13-3) in the other play-in game at 7 p.m.
The Tigers earned a berth in the NCAA postseason after capturing the Colonial Athletic Association tournament crown for the second time in three years. They defeated Drexel this past Thursday and Massachusetts this past Saturday in Fairfield, Conn., and coach Shawn Nadelen wonders how the players will react to playing again so quickly.
"It'll be interesting to see how guys are at practice as far as their physical performance and how their bodies are feeling after two tough games in three days at the CAA tournament and the travel," Nadelen said Monday. "But I've got to think that the adrenaline and the excitement about playing Wednesday night in the NCAA tournament and hosting a First Four game is exciting for them. Those bumps and bruises have a tendency to work themselves out when you're out there."
If Towson can find a way to defeat the Southern Conference tournament champion Panthers, the team would travel to South Bend, Ind., to face No. 1 seed Notre Dame (10-2) on Saturday at 5 p.m.
Nadelen acknowledged the challenge of clashing with a Fighting Irish team that will play at home and have a full week of preparation and rest.
"I know for whichever team advances, it does pose a challenge to have to figure out travel logistics to get out to South Bend, which is not an easy place to get to," he said. "And you have to do it in preparation for a Saturday at 5 o'clock game rather than a Sunday game, which the other First Four winner has the luxury of. They can go to [No. 2 seed] Syracuse and not have to play until Sunday night. Whichever teams that advances on Wednesday is going to have some adversity to overcome, but they also get to play another game."
The Tigers defense — tied for second in the country in fewest goals allowed per game (7.4) — returns junior defenseman Andrew Cordes, who had started the team's first six games before sitting out the past eight because of an unspecified injury.
Nadelen wouldn't say whether Cordes would regain a starting role, but he noted that having four starters in senior JoJo Ostrander, juniors Mike Lowe and Nick Gorman, and Cordes will help against a High Point offense ranked 21st in the nation in scoring (11 goals per game).
"He looked well," Nadelen said. "We actually put him on the field for a little bit against Drexel in the semifinal [on Thursday]. He was a huge boost in terms of being able to get another defenseman that has starting defensive experience for us this year back with two games in three days. He looks like he's getting back to game speed, and we're looking forward to having him continue to help us out."
As Cordes returns to the fold, Nadelen said the tricky part of preparing the team is toeing the line between exertion and exhaustion.
"That's always the balance that you're looking for," he said. "You want to stay sharp and you want to stay focused and fresh and competitive in practice. So we'll get out there and get the legs and sticks going and do some skillwork and drills. But yeah, you really want to hammer down what your opponent looks like and figure out the details and game planning that you need without being out there forever. So it's going to be something we'll have to manage."