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Towson men’s lacrosse optimistic that faceoff specialist Alex Woodall will play Sunday vs. Syracuse

In the aftermath of Towson's 12-8 upset of No. 7 seed Penn State in the first round of the NCAA Division I tournament on Saturday, faceoff specialist Alex Woodall joined his teammates in celebration, but with a bag of ice attached to his left hamstring, the prospects of the sophomore playing in Sunday's quarterfinal at noon against No. 2 seed Syracuse at Delaware Stadium in Newark did not appear promising.

On Tuesday, however, coach Shawn Nadelen expressed optimism that the Annapolis resident and St. Mary's graduate will return for the Tigers (11-4).

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"He had a smile on his face today," Nadelen said when asked about Woodall's status. "So I think he's excited. I feel like he should be out there for game time."

Woodall, a High Point transfer who ranks ninth in the country in faceoff percentage at .609 and is tied for 20th in ground balls per game at 5.7, was instrumental in Towson's victory over the Nittany Lions as he won 53.8 percent of his draws (7-for-13), picked up four ground balls, and scored a goal to give the team a 6-4 lead with 5:57 left in the third quarter. But he injured his hamstring on that goal and was replaced by junior Connor Harryman, a Bellarmine transfer who won 54.5 percent of his faceoffs (6-for-11).

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Nadelen did not seem overly concerned about Woodall being limited on Sunday.

"We'll just have to adjust like we did against Penn State," he said. "That's why it's nice having multiple options this year as opposed to the years past where we really had Option 1 and then we had to see what we would do for Options 2 and 3. Connor did a good job coming in and giving us some strength at the position and earning some wins at the faceoff X in that third quarter. That game was tied up, and we needed to start making a run, and he did a good job with that. So he's kind of been the next guy in line, and then you've got a seasoned guy in [senior] Alec Burckley right there and a couple guys behind them. So we'll assess where we are depending on how Alex is doing and if he can go on Sunday and then figure it out from there."

The Tigers could use a healthy Woodall against Orange senior Ben Williams. The former Holy Cross transfer ranks 28th in faceoff percentage (.541) and 25th in average ground balls (5.2), but became the program's career leader in faceoff wins (626) and ground balls (330) earlier in the season.

"Fortunately, we have a pretty good one in Woodall," Nadelen said. "We'll see how healthy he is. I know he'll be excited for the opportunity and be ready to battle if he is healthy or if Connor needs to carry the load, too. We'll assess Ben, we'll look at his technique, and we'll look at how we need to attack them. Those guys have been excited and ready for the challenges all year, and I can imagine that won't change this week."

Twitter: @edwardleesun

Email: edward.lee@baltsun.com


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