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Towson at Mount St. Mary's: Three things to watch

Towson Tigers

Towson has won all three meetings in this series, including last year’s 10-8 contest when the Tigers overcame a one-goal deficit in the fourth quarter. They avoided the program’s first 0-4 start with a 9-8 overtime decision against Mercer last Sunday. Junior midfielder-turned-attackman Thomas DeNapoli leads Towson in goals (10) and points (12). Mount St. Mary’s fell to 2-2 after absorbing an 18-11 setback to No. 11 Virginia Tuesday night. The Mountaineers may have found their goalkeeper of the near future in sophomore Adam Borgogelli. Here are some factors that could play into the outcome at Waldron Family Stadium in Emmitsburg Saturday night.

1) Towson’s defensive plan. The Mount St. Mary’s offense is headlined by the starting attack of seniors Andrew Scalley (nine goals and 14 assists), Brett Schmidt (10, 7) and Cody Lehrer (11, 5). That trio will certainly generate a lot of the Tigers’ attention, but coach Shawn Nadelen said the defense can’t afford to forget about midfielders like seniors Bryant Schmidt (4, 2), Daniel Stranix (4, 1) and Eric Ososki (3, 1). “Those guys are just as capable after seeing what they did against Virginia,” Nadelen said, referring to the combined seven goals and two assists they accounted for. “I think all of their midfielders had at least two points in that game. When you focus on the attack so much, that can create opportunities for the midfielders, and those guys are very capable. So they’re pretty balanced with their top six offensive guys. I think they rely heavily on their attack to really get things going and generate a lot of offense, but if you worry too much about the and don’t pay attention to the midfield, those guys will hurt you as well.”

2) Mount St. Mary’s clears. According to coaches, the new rules in place to help accelerate pace of play in college lacrosse have made it difficult for teams to disrupt clears because coaches are so concerned about running their offensive midfielders off the field in favor of their defensive brethren. Try telling that to the Mountaineers, who have succeeded on just 65.5 percent (38-of-58) of their clears so far. Coach Tom Gravante said the team has emphasized clearing this week, including advising Borgogelli to taking his time while trying to connect on outlet passes. But Gravante put a good deal of the burden on the midfielders. “[W]e made some adjustments, working with the short-stick D-middies,” he said. “They need to handle the ball better as well. There were a few times when those kids were just running into the gauntlet, running themselves into a trap when they really didn’t need to. They need to be more poised. If three guys are closing the gap, that means there are two guys wide open on that field. So they’ve got to do a better job of playing with more poise and running with their heads up.”

3) Towson’s accuracy. All four of Mount St. Mary’s opponents have reached double digits in goals. On the flip side, the Tigers have yet to post 10 goals against an opposing defense. They are converting just 23.7 percent of their shots into goals. Borgogelli is a first-time, full-time starter, but Nadelen said the worst thing the Towson shooters could do is underestimate Borgogelli. “One of our biggest fears every game is to give a goalie confidence early by shooting the ball into his stick or giving him easy looks with outside shots that are easy saves and boost his confidence,” he said. “We always want to test the goalie early by making the guy make a difficult save with a good shot in a good location. So we’re going to continue to have that mindset and hopefully challenge him that way in the first quarter.”

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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