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Towson at Johns Hopkins: Three things to watch

Towson's rivalry with Johns Hopkins is the sixth longest in program history, but the Tigers have won just three games all time and have lost the past 18 meetings, and 38 overall.

Towson opened the season with an 11-8 win against High Point last Saturday. Senior attackman Thomas DeNapoli led all players with five points on four goals and one assist. A defense anchored by senior defenseman John Fennessy and junior defenseman JoJo Ostrander surrendered just three goals in the second to the Panthers, who had a 5-4 lead at halftime.

No. 13 Johns Hopkins outlasted No. 15 Ohio State, 10-9, in three overtimes on Sunday. The starting attack powered the offense. Junior Wells Stanwick recorded six points on one goal and five assists, and senior Brandon Benn and sophomore Ryan Brown each posted two goals and one assist.

Here are a few factors that could play a role at 4 p.m. Saturday at Homewood Field.

1) Shadowing Stanwick. The quarterback of the Blue Jays' offense last spring, Stanwick picked up where he left off in the season opener. The Baltimore native and Boys’ Latin graduate had a hand in the team’s first five goals against the Buckeyes as he used his vision and pinpoint passing to find open teammates. Fennessy or Ostrander could get the defensive assignment, but Tigers coach Shawn Nadelen said all hands will be on deck when the ball is in Stanwick’s crosse. “I think we have pretty good personnel in our defensive end,” Nadelen said. “We’re just making sure that we know how dangerous he is with the ball and how much attention we need to pay in regards to the players around him and how well they move off ball, because he can feed the open guy. He had five assists against Ohio State, but he’s also a dangerous dodging threat. So we’ve got to be willing to help when needed. But I think our close defense is a decent group, and they have a real challenge with that attack unit.”

2) Working on White. Junior Tyler White made his first career start last Saturday for Towson, making just four saves while allowing eight goals. Maybe a case of first-game jitters was the culprit, but Nadelen said he had been hoping for a better outing from White. He is slated to start against Johns Hopkins, but coach Dave Pietramala said he and his players have no intention of overlooking the 6-foot-3, 230-pound White. “It’s not like we’re walking into a game and saying, ‘Just shoot the ball because he’s a new goalie,’” Pietramala said of White. “The goal is to generate quality shots against a quality defense, and we need to generate as much as we can. Maybe I’m belittling the fact that he’s a first-year starter, but we’re not going to approach it any different. We’re not just going to throw the ball at the goal because he’s a new kid. We still have to work for the best available shot, not the first available shot.”

3) Elevating their efficiency. The Tigers got some redemption with their victory over High Point, which beat Towson, 9-7, in the 2013 season opener for both teams. But the offense also struggled with its efficiency, connecting on just 26.8 percent of its shots last Saturday. The unit shot just 16 percent in the first and second quarters before bouncing back with a 37.5 conversion rate in the third and fourth. Nadelen said the Tigers must improve their accuracy against a Blue Jays defense anchored by senior goalkeeper Eric Schneider (13 saves on Sunday) and senior defenseman Jack Reilly. “I think we need to be really efficient offensively,” Nadelen said. “I think that’s a spot that we weren’t as efficient as we should have been against High Point. And against a tough defensive group like Hopkins, they can really help us out by being efficient there.”

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