One might think that at some point during his six-goal performance in the Towson men's lacrosse team's victory over Mount St. Mary's on Saturday, Jon Mazza would have paused to take stock of how often he was depositing the ball in the net. But the sophomore attackman said he did not give much thought to that number — a statement backed up by teammate and senior attackman Joe Seider.
"He definitely didn't focus on, 'Wow, I've got five goals now, and I hope I get six,'" said Seider, a Sparks resident and Hereford graduate. "He was in the flow of the game, scoring goals and doing what he needed to do on offense more than anything else."
Said Mazza: "I don't really keep track. Honestly, my head's always in the game. I definitely don't think of that."
While Mazza might not have considered what he had done, his explosive display could cause headaches for opposing coaches. As if dealing with senior attackman Ryan Drenner (33 goals and 23 assists in 2016), Seider (35 G, 5 A), and senior midfielders Mike Lynch (21 G, 8 A) and Tyler Young (8 G, 10 A) was not difficult enough, defenses must now pay attention to Mazza.
The next test for Mazza and the No. 12 Tigers (1-0) is Saturday when they travel to Washington, D.C., to clash with Georgetown (0-2) at 12 p.m.
Still, no one can be truly stunned by Mazza's 2017 debut. As a freshman last year, he tallied 15 goals and seven assists as a member of the second midfield.
"He had a terrific 2016 and was on the All-Rookie team for the Colonial [Athletic Association]," ESPN and Big Ten Network analyst Mark Dixon said. "He was Towson's best freshman from a year ago. He's a good player. He's tough. Offensively, he's very talented. He's a big body at 6-3, 185. So I think we're getting to know Mazza a little bit more."
Mazza acknowledged that the transition from high school to college was not easy at first as his body tired during the first week of practices.
"When you go up to the Division I level, it definitely gets tougher," he said. "The guys get bigger, faster, stronger. So it took me a couple weeks to adjust, but I'm definitely feeling more comfortable than I did last year."
Coach Shawn Nadelen said the experience Mazza accrued last spring has been crucial in his development.
"I think he's more comfortable with what we're trying to do offensively," Nadelen said. "His knowledge of offenses and his ability to be more comfortable out there helps. He's always been a guy that has a lot of confidence in his abilities and is very competitive. So I think that leads to him being able to get on the field and being an impact guy.
"I think that continues to build for him. From his freshman to sophomore year, being that he had some success last year on the second-line midfield creates that confidence for him even more because he knows he's been in those games and situations."
With Spencer Parks graduating, Ian Kirby transferring to Division II Adelphi and injuries sidelining a few others, Towson needed a third attackman. Enter Mazza, who said he has been in offensive coordinator Anthony Gilardi's ear about moving from the midfield.
"I've always liked dodging from behind," said Mazza, who said he played attack in his final two years at The Calverton School in Huntingtown. "If I was playing midfield, I could always invert."
Seider, who posted two goals and one assist against the Mountaineers, said Mazza looked like a natural playing with him and Drenner (two goals and two assists).
"We're a very well-oiled unit," Seider said. "So I don't think it was hard at all. We've only played one game together, but I thought that as three attackmen, we looked very good and have pretty good chemistry."
After being held scoreless in the first quarter, Mazza scored three times (in a row) in the second, twice (in a row) in the third and once in the fourth. Five of his goals were assisted, leading him to credit his teammates for finding him.
"They just kept coming," he said. "My teammates kept putting me in good position, giving me good passes."
Nadelen said Mazza could have finished with as many as eight goals and will grow more comfortable on attack as he spends more time in that role.
"Jon is still learning the position, and that's a little different than being in the midfield," Nadelen said. "I'm happy for him, and he helped us be successful, but the bigger thing I was more excited about was that he was able to be a bit more efficient with his shooting when he had his opportunities."
Mazza said his objective in every game is to eliminate mistakes and poor plays, not score six goals again. But Seider said he hopes Mazza continues his success from last week.
"You've got to love to see the younger guys doing that well," Seider said. "As an older guy, you want to see the guys mature, and Jon has done that from being a freshman last year to a pretty mature sophomore. I really loved it. I've really loved how much he has changed over the past couple of years and seeing how much potential he has."