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UMBC men’s lacrosse now battling injury on defensive end

An unspecified injury has sidelined UMBC senior defenseman John Tornabene, right.
An unspecified injury has sidelined UMBC senior defenseman John Tornabene, right. (Paul W. Gillespie / Capital Gazette)

A week after losing a third attackman, the UMBC men’s lacrosse team is dealing with an injured starter on the other side of the ball.

Senior defenseman John Tornabene did not play in Saturday’s 10-7 loss at UMass Lowell because of an unspecified injury and is questionable to return in time for Saturday’s 3 p.m. home game against top-ranked Albany, according to coach Ryan Moran.

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Tornabene, a Havre de Grace resident and Archbishop Curley graduate, has started 28 of 36 games in the past three seasons, including all eight this spring before missing Saturday’s game. He ranks third on the team in caused turnovers with nine and fourth in ground balls with 15, and Moran acknowledged that his presence was missed by the Retrievers (2-7, 0-2 America East), who have lost four straight games.

The junior defenseman is not only a full-time starter for the No. 2 Maryland men’s lacrosse team, but he also can squat the equivalent of a large vending machine.

“When you lose someone like John, he’s 100 percent a guy you want down there,” Moran said Wednesday morning. “There are so many things he does well, and he’s our best communicator by far. So it took some toll on our performance. Was it the difference in us losing? I don’t know, but he’s someone that we don’t have another John Tornabene in terms of his off-ball play and his communication.”

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The defense compensated for Tornabene’s absence by shifting senior long-stick midfielder Billy O’Hara to close defense, where he joined junior Jason Brewster and sophomore Nick Griffin. Freshman Nick Doyle and junior James Nagro split time at long-stick midfielder.

Moran said O’Hara, who had one ground ball and one caused turnover Saturday, fared well in his season debut on close defense.

“He did a great job,” Moran said. “We were able to get him reps, and we got him feeling pretty comfortable toward the end of the week playing down low instead of up top.”

UMBC is already playing without its top three attackmen in sophomore Mitch Howell (broken foot), freshman Trevor Patschorke (ACL) and sophomore Ryan Frawley (thumb). Howell and Patschorke (Severna Park) will redshirt this season, and Frawley is still considered week to week.

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