For the first time since 2014 and only the second time in the past six years, the Towson men’s lacrosse team fell short of capturing the Colonial Athletic Association championship and representing the conference in the NCAA tournament.
Throw in the team’s first sub-.500 record since 2012 — Shawn Nadelen’s first season as head coach — and inconsistent play from a young and inexperienced roster, and Nadelen conceded that the 2018 season was vexing.
“This year, with the off-the-field stuff and with all of the new faces and things like that, it was definitely the most challenging season I’ve had as a head coach,” he said. “But it also helped me learn and grow and understand how I definitely didn’t do a great job preparing for this year and putting things in place to be more efficient and more direct with what we were doing. It definitely exposed my shortcomings as a coach, and I’d like to think that I’ve learned a lot this year in a lot of different areas.
“There’s no doubt that it was a very challenging year, but I see it as a positive challenge and opportunity for me as a coach to learn and grow from it. I unfortunately didn’t do a good enough job being proactive and trying to be in front of some of the situations that arose. That’s on me, and I take full responsibility for that.”
The “off-the-field stuff” included the suspensions of senior defenseman Sid Ewell and junior attackman Jon Mazza and the removal of redshirt junior attackman Dylan Kinnear from the roster after an 11-10 overtime loss at Denver on March 24. Ewell missed two games and three starts, while Mazza did not return for the team’s final seven games.
Last year’s Championship Weekend team had a group of seniors led by captains Jack Adams, Brian Bolewicki and Ryan Drenner to keep teammates in line. Nadelen acknowledged that this year’s squad lacked a similar group, and he blamed himself for not recognizing that void.
“That comes down to me being able to understand that and gauge that within our team,” he said. “If that isn’t as prevalent as it needs to be within the locker room and with the players, then the coaches need to step in and take a little bit more ownership of that. I’m a big believer that if the locker room can kind of police itself and players understand why they’re doing things a certain way, then you’re in a really good spot as a program and as a team, and we didn’t quite have that as much as we’ve had in the past, and that’s on me for not working with the upperclassmen and working with the captains and making sure that I was as dialed in as I needed to be.”