Aggressive but not reckless, Drenner lends balance to Towson's offense

Aggressive but not reckless, Drenner lends balance to Towson's offense
Towson attackman Ryan Drenner, left, scores against Fairfield defenseman Andrew Eidenshink, center, and goalkeeper Tyler Behring, right to give Towson a 3-2 lead in the first half of a college lacrosse game. (Steve Ruark / Baltimore Sun)

There are some numbers that stick out for Ryan Drenner.

He leads the Towson men's lacrosse team in assists with 18 and in points with 42. He is one point short of reaching 100 for his career. And although he currently wears the No. 22 jersey, Drenner had worn No. 3 and No. 12 to honor his father Dennis' athletic career in baseball, basketball and football.


Another number that has meaning for him is six. That's how many turnovers the junior attackman has committed this season. In some ways, Drenner said he values that number as much as the goals and assists.

"It's definitely a good number to have," he said. "You'd always like to have less than that. But this year especially, I've been trying not to take as many risks while still being aggressive."

Still, Drenner's value to the No. 12 Tigers (11-2, 3-1 Colonial Athletic Association) — who beat Fairfield 18-11 last Saturday at Johnny Unitas Stadium — has been grounded in his ability to put the ball into the net or find teammates who can. With 24 goals this season, after netting three against Fairfield, the Westminster resident has scored 53 in three years and has assisted on 46.

Drenner is Towson's offensive quarterback in an age when players of that caliber are in increasing demand in Division I, said ESPN analyst Paul Carcaterra.

"I think he leads by an IQ standpoint, controls the tempo," the former Syracuse midfielder said. "He's not an overly athletic guy, but I think he wins matchups with a slickness and a lacrosse IQ. I like his game, too. He's balanced. His statistics aren't gaudy in one area and low in the other. He's a balanced guy. He can score, he can feed. He's a really solid player."

Drenner's career statistics bear out Carcaterra's assessment. As a junior at Westminster, he had 55 goals and 44 assists before totaling 69 goals and 69 assists as a senior and earning Times Player of the Year honors.

At Towson, Drenner had 12 goals and 10 assists as a freshman and 17 goals and 18 assists as a sophomore. That explains why he doesn't view himself primarily as a scorer or a feeder.

"I like to see myself as being very even," he said. "I like to pass first, but when I have to, I'll go to the rack. When I was in high school, I liked to keep my assists and goals even. So I don't see myself as being one or the other."

Drenner's best performance this season was a four-goal, three-assist display in a 10-7 win against Georgetown on Feb. 27. Afterward, Hoyas coach Kevin Warne expressed admiration for Drenner's skill.

"There's a couple times where he leans in on us, and we wanted to slide to him," Warne said at the time. "At certain points, he was going right-handed, and we did not. Next time, he beats a guy left-handed and dumps it on us, and we were just looking at him. He's a good player. He's a pain to prepare for."

Drenner's path to the Tigers was surprisingly uncluttered, as Towson and Marist were the only Division I programs that showed serious interest in him.

After choosing to stay close to home, Drenner opened his freshman year as a starter — in the midfield.

"That was fine for me," he recalled. "Any chance I had to get on the field was a good thing. It's all offense. So it wasn't too big of a switch for me. … I was glad that I had the opportunity to do that."

The following season, Drenner was moved back to attack and specifically to the role of offensive quarterback, which is the position Tigers coach Shawn Nadelen envisioned for him when he pursued him at Westminster.


"He was a quarterback-attackman in high school and we saw him hopefully assuming that kind of role, and fortunately, it has been that way," Nadelen said. "The style that he plays and his ability allow him to be there. His IQ, his playmaking, his vision are things that allow him to play that quarterback style. Even though we played him in the midfield his freshman year, that was really to just let him get his feet wet. But I think we're seeing him become much more comfortable and consistent with where he is now."

Senior attackman Spencer Parks, who has started with Drenner for the past two seasons, said if someone is open, Drenner will find him.

"Most of the time, he can just sort of tell and see when the defender's head is turned, and in a split second he'll get it there to you and put it on your stick," Parks said. "It's right there. You get a lot of easy goals and a lot of easy chances because of him."

For all of the individual numbers Drenner has accumulated, his primary focus is helping the Tigers qualify for the NCAA tournament and make a deep run.

"All those kinds of accolades will come as our team does well," he said.

"I'm just focused on helping our team be the best it can be."