No. 1 Loyola pays a visit with the label of reigning national champion in tow, but the Greyhounds needed a goal from senior midfielder Chris Layne with 4.4 seconds left to edge Delaware, 9-8, last Saturday. Towson suffered a 12-6 loss to No. 5 Johns Hopkins later that day, falling to 0-2 for the third time in the last four seasons. The Tigers have dropped five of their last six contests at home and are trying to snap a five-game losing skid to the Greyhounds. Here are a few factors that could influence the outcome at Johnny Unitas Stadium on Wednesday night.
1) Kick-start the transition. En route to the school’s first Division I national championship, Loyola displayed a penchant for turning turnovers and defensive stops into opportunities on transition. The Greyhounds still have the talent and speed to do that, but coach Charley Toomey pointed out that the team didn’t take advantage of some chances in the win against Delaware. “What I learned that we need to do is we need to be smarter in the transition game,” he said. “We felt like though we had some opportunities on the offensive end, we probably had some quick possessions that we really are going to go back and watch the film on and make sure that we’re not leaving [senior long-stick midfielder Scott] Ratliff on the field and our rope unit [long- and short-stick midfielders] on the field while we’re going to the goal and all of a sudden, they make a save and those guys have to stay on. We have to be smarter in our transition game.”
2) Execute clears. Towson has been outshot in both of its games this season, and a contributing factor may be the team’s vulnerable clearing game. The Tigers misfired on 4-of-21 clears in the setback to the Blue Jays and failed on 6-of-20 clears in a stunning 9-7 loss to High Point. Coach Shawn Nadelen knows that offensive possessions may be a premium against a Loyola defense that likes to pressure opposing dodgers, and that’s why executing in the clearing game has been a point of emphasis in practice this week. “We need to be more efficient at clearing the ball,” he said. “… When we do make the stops on the defensive end, we need to give our offense the opportunity to generate a high volume of shots to hopefully have the shooting work come to fruition for us.”
3) Solve Andrew Wascavage. Johns Hopkins peppered Towson for 12 goals and might have had more if not for the play of senior goalkeeper Andrew Wascavage. After the game, Blue Jays coach Dave Pietramala heaped praise on Wascavage, and Toomey – who scouted the game in person that night – agreed with his counterpart’s assessment. “I think he’s got great hands,” Toomey said of Wascavage. “So he can steal a couple saves when you’re on the doorstep, where you think it’s over and the ball is in the back of the net and he gets pipe to pipe and is able to match sticks with his hands. Or a guy steps in from about eight yards, and he shoots it low and away, and he puts a foot on it. He somehow sees it and gets a piece of the ball at a time when it just takes a lot of the wind out of your sails.”Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times