Is Towson Really No. 1? This Week, the Answer is Yes


Koby Smith and the top-ranked Towson Tigers take on Jacksonville and No. 2 Cornell at the Crown Lacrosse Classic this weekend in Charlotte.

It’s hard to know entirely what to make of an opening five weekends that have winnowed the number of undefeated teams in Division I to just three.

It is safe, though, to point out the organizers of the Crown Lacrosse Classic are one of the winners of the opening quarter of the season.

The first-year event in Charlotte, N.C., begins Friday and includes Cornell, Jacksonville, Penn State and Towson. While three of those programs have made NCAA tournament appearances in recent years, only Cornell got there last season.

The Big Red handled their first three games. Penn State has proven to be an offensive dynamo, with a one-goal loss to Yale its lone blemish. And Towson, which upended previously unbeaten Loyola on Wednesday, is this week’s No. 1 team in the Nike/US Lacrosse Division I Men’s Top 20.

Are the Tigers (4-0) really the best team in Division I? That’s a really hard question to answer, especially given the swing of results each week. But with defeats of Georgetown and Johns Hopkins to go with the triumph over Loyola, Towson has taken care of what is in front of it so far this year, and done so against some good teams.

This week, the Tigers will face Jacksonville and Cornell in a three-day span as part of what’s turned out to be one of the best events on this year’s schedule. Post a couple victories, and Towson will solidify its No. 1 placement into the middle of March.

Nike/US Lacrosse
Division I Men’s
Top 20

March 4, 2019




1 Towson 4-0 6 3/8 vs. Jacksonville
2 Cornell 3-0 3 3/8 vs. No. 6 Penn State
3 Yale 2-1 4 3/10 vs. Michigan
4 Loyola 4-1 1 3/7 at No. 9 Duke
5 Maryland 5-1 2 3/9 at Albany
6 Penn State 4-1 6 3/8 vs. No. 2 Cornell
7 Ohio State 5-0 7 3/9 at Hofstra
8 Notre Dame 2-1 12 3/9 vs. No. 10 Denver
Duke 5-1 9 3/7 vs. No. 4 Loyola
10 Denver 4-1 10 3/9 vs. No. 8 Notre Dame
11 High Point 5-1 8 3/9 vs. UMBC
12 Virginia 3-2 13 3/10 vs. Brown
13 Villanova 3-1 15 3/8 vs. Penn
14 Johns Hopkins 2-2 NR 3/19 at No. 19 Syracuse
15 Richmond 3-2 11 3/5 vs. Mount St. Mary's
16 North Carolina 3-2 14 3/8 vs. Marist
17 Army 4-1 18 3/9 at Lehigh
18 Rutgers 3-2 19 3/9 vs. Princeton
19 Syracuse 2-2 NR 3/19 vs. No. 13 Johns Hopkins
20 Georgetown 4-1 NR 3/5 vs. Furman
Also considered (alphabetical order): Boston University, Colgate, Hobart, Michigan, Navy, Princeton


Towson (+5)

The Tigers keep checking off so many boxes in the early going. They control possession thanks to faceoff ace Alex Woodall (74.2 percent). They get all the stops they’re supposed to plus a few they shouldn’t courtesy of goalie Tyler Canto (62.9 save percentage).

They’ve found a centerpiece scorer in Brendan Sunday (15 goals, nine assists), they’ve adapted well to the shot clock (.301 shooting percentage) and they field a defense difficult to stymie. They’ve taken down Johns Hopkins and Loyola for Baltimore bragging rights and now get a tricky March schedule that includes Cornell, Duke and Denver. Count them all as opportunities for Towson to continue to impress.

Notre Dame (+4)

Back up come the Fighting Irish, whose response to a loss at Richmond was a rollicking 14-13 overtime defeat of Maryland on an indoor field.

It’s still hard to know entirely what to make of Notre Dame. Well, aside from the fact its attack was superb against Maryland. Brendan Gleason (four goals, one assist), Brian Willetts (three goals, two assists) and Connor Morin (three goals, one assist) combined for 14 of the Irish’s 21 points while posting only three turnovers. Willetts had the game-winner for the Irish, who head west to face Denver in California next weekend.


Richmond (-4)

The Spiders shot into the top 20 thanks to a victory over Notre Dame, but couldn’t make it two in a row against ACC teams when they dropped an 11-7 decision to Duke. No matter. The Spiders are still safely inside the top 20.

Loyola (-3)

The Greyhounds get dinged a little for losing at Towson, but the most surprising thing they did in the last week was give up 15 goals to Holy Cross. It’s safe to assume the defense on Cold Spring Lane will get some attention heading into Thursday’s trip to Duke.

Maryland (-3)

The Terrapins were poised to move into the No. 1 slot for the first time this season, and a rally from a four-goal deficit in the second half (and a two-goal hole in the final three minutes of regulation) made it appear they might escape South Bend with a defeat of Notre Dame. It didn’t happen, an overtime road loss to one of the country’s steadiest programs won’t lead to a severe drop.


Johns Hopkins

They’re back, though coach Dave Pietramala would probably argue the Blue Jays never left. They just continue to grow and improve. A week after surviving dreadful conditions at North Carolina, Hopkins bagged a 14-12 victory at Princeton behind hat tricks from Brett Baskin and Cole Williams. The Blue Jays’ road trip continues Saturday at Syracuse.


The Hoyas get back into the top 20 after handling both Mount St. Mary’s and Hofstra last week as Daniel Bucaro (16 goals, 10 assists) and Jake Carraway (13 goals, nine assists) continued solid starts. Georgetown faces another two-game week while on spring break, with Furman arriving in town Tuesday before a trip to Fairfield on Saturday.


Colgate (was No. 16)

The Raiders (2-2) had a game against Hobart postponed because of extreme cold, then dropped their Patriot League opener to Lehigh 10-8. They’ll play host to Boston University on Saturday and remain a candidate to return to the top 20 before long.

Princeton (was No. 20)

The Tigers (1-2) really aren’t that far away, falling in overtime to Virginia and by two goals to Johns Hopkins in their first two home games. Michael Sowers (eight goals, 10 assists) remains as stellar as ever, but Princeton needs to finish off some quality victories. It gets two chances this week when it visits Navy and Rutgers.

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