Towson Relies on Experience, Growth and Loyalty Despite Losses

PHOTO BY RICH BARNES

Towson coach Shawn Nadelen praised junior short-stick midfielder Zach Goodrich as the best player in the country.


US Lacrosse Magazine released the Nike/US Lacrosse Division I Men’s Preseason Top 20 on Jan. 8. Team-by-team previews will be unveiled on uslaxmagazine.com throughout January and will also appear as part of the magazine’s NCAA preview edition that mails to US Lacrosse members Feb. 1 — opening day of the 2018 college lacrosse season.

No. 19 Towson

2017 Record: 12-5 (4-1 CAA)
Coach: Shawn Nadelen (7th year)
All-Time Record: 461-334
NCAA Appearances: 14
Final Fours: 3
Championships: 0

Rebuild or reload? Towson is doing a little bit of both.

The Tigers, fresh off their first NCAA semifinal appearance since 2001, graduated 80 percent of their scoring and two-thirds of a program-defining rope unit that rose to stardom during their unseeded flight past Penn State and Syracuse.

The lynchpin of the group, junior short stick Zach Goodrich, returns. Towson coach Shawn Nadelen did not hesitate to call Goodrich the best player in the country – high praise for a defensive midfielder.

Goodrich’s omnipresence, an experienced defense led by Sid Ewell and Alex Woodall’s ability to take over games at the faceoff stripe provides cause for optimism.

But without MLL draft picks Ryan Drenner and Joe Seider around to distribute the ball and scorch nets from the outside, respectively, the Tigers will rely on an unproven group at attack that includes five players who have transferred into the program over the last three summers.

Maryland transfer Timmy Monahan, a one-time Ohio State commit, probably has the most impact potential as a stretch shooter in Seider’s absence.

“The kid can shoot the ball very well with both hands,” Nadelen said. “I see him contributing similarly to what Spencer Parks did for us a couple years back.”

Nadelen himself has been the subject of offseason rumors the last two summers. He interviewed with Princeton and Michigan and, according to The Baltimore Sun, declined an offer from Michigan.

For Nadelen, it turned out, the grass was greener in Towson than in Ann Arbor.

“I’ve seen tremendous growth in the university, which has increased the excitement, the exposure and the attractiveness for recruits. Inherently, we can harness a lot of good out of our players, our program and the resources that we have,” said Nadelen, who has led Towson to the NCAA tournament in four of the last five seasons. “Loyalty is a big thing for me.” 






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The Case For Towson

Nadelen’s loyalty is reflected in his assistant coaches, offensive coordinator Anthony Gilardi and defensive coordinator Dan Cocchi, who have remained on the staff for the entirety of his tenure. That continuity in coaching — combined with systems that work and players whose blue-collar attributes are tailored fits — has turned Towson into a perennial contender regardless of its roster turnover. Nadelen’s brand of lacrosse is not always pretty, but it almost always puts the Tigers in a position to win. With the entire starting defense back, they should be comfortable grinding out wins in low-scoring affairs.

The Case Against Towson

The Tigers’ offensive woes were apparent in a 22-2 loss to the U.S. training team Oct. 8 in the Team USA Fall Classic. Granted, they had only trained as a team for one week prior to the event, as Towson prefers to focus on small group and individual skill work the month after players return to campus. But someone needs to move the needle out of that unproven attack group, especially since Jack Adams and Tyler Mayes are no longer around to help Goodrich create transition opportunities. Six-on-six, it’s tough to see the Tigers going toe-to-toe with the heavyweights on their schedule.

Path to the Playoffs

It goes through the CAA, and probably Hofstra. A Feb. 10 non-conference opener at Homewood Field will provide a glimpse if and how Towson has retooled its offense since the fall. Johns Hopkins has undergone its own facelift on defense. During one three-week stretch in March, the Tigers face Ohio State, Duke, Denver and then Hofstra in its conference opener.

Players To Watch

Zach Goodrich, SSDM, Jr.
47 GB, 19 CT

All three members of Towson’s rope unit were All-Americans in 2017. Only Goodrich, a second-teamer, remains. Don’t be surprised to see second-year captain play a little more offense this season if Nadelen decides he wants to have his best overall athlete on the field as much as possible.

Jon Mazza, M, Jr.
16 G, 4 A

The 6-foot-4, 205-pound midfielder is the Tigers’ top returning scorer and is among several slash players Nadelen foresees playing both midfield and attack.

Alex Woodall, FO, Jr.
58.9 FO%, 94 GB

A 6-foot, 227-pound brute, Woodall won faceoffs at a nearly 60-percent clip in 2017. Of course, it helped to have the likes of Goodrich, Adams and Mayes swopping in from the wings. Woodall’s physical style has made him prone to injuries. Towson needs him to stay healthy.

National Rankings

Category

Rank

Value

Offense 46th 9.53 GPG
Defense 4th 7.65 GAA
Faceoffs 10th 57.3%
Ground Balls 43rd 26.71/game
Caused TO 26th 7.12/game
Shooting 58th 25.4%
Man-Up 26th 36.4%
Man-Down 39th 63.8%
Assists 58th 4.71/game
Turnovers 6th 11.47/game
Clearing 19th 88.7%

Power Ratings (Scale of 1-5)

Offense

Defense
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Goalkeeping
⭐⭐⭐

Faceoff
⭐⭐⭐⭐

15

Shoe size of sophomore Brendan Sunday, a high school basketball player who is in the mix at attack. He’s 6-foot-5, 200 pounds, and is the all-time leading lacrosse scorer Arlington High School in New York’s capital region. Nadelen is considering playing Sunday as a point-behind attackman. “He’s still getting used to the volume, the intensity and the reads at that position,” he said.

5-Year Trend
Turnovers Per Game

Year

Value

Rank

2013 13.72 15th
2014 12.0 5th
2015 10.61 1st
2016 10.32 1st
2017 11.47 6th

Coach Confidential
Shawn Nadelen

“I don’t think you put an expectation on how many goals you’ll score or give up, or any hardline statistic. It’s more of a competitive level and what we should look like. At no time should we see a guy loafing or taking a rep off. That’s not who we are as a program."

Enemy Lines
Rival Coaches

“Shawn Nadelen. Don’t sleep on their graduated class. New guys — great coaches. … Their short-stick d-middies are still very good even with the loss of Adams. Woodall is fabulous. They’re at a point where they reload more than rebuild.”

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