Six midfielders have started for Towson this spring, but the team seems to have found its first line of the future in junior Andrew Hodgson and sophomores Justin Mabus and Greg Cuccinello.
That trio has started the last three games and has been fairly productive. In a 7-6 win against Hofstra on March 30, they combined for four goals on 12 shots and four assists. In a 9-5 victory over Massachusetts on April 6, they totaled two goals on 13 attempts and one assist. And in a 10-8 loss to No. 10 Penn State last Saturday, they combined for six goals on 18 shots and two assists.
That midfield’s effectiveness has aided the Tigers in their hunt for a berth in the Colonial Athletic Association.
“They’re a group that has different qualities among each of them, but they’re also similar in the way they know how to play the game and in their IQ of the game,” coach Shawn Nadelen said Monday. “Justin’s been playing at a much better rate recently and in CAA play. Greg’s starting to really come into his own and make really good plays when he needs to at times. And Andrew continues to be a decent decision maker where that had been a bit of a problem in the past. Now he understands and is making better decisions, and his shooting has improved and his selection of shots has improved. They’re workhorses. They do a lot in our midfield and in our offense and on the defensive end. So it’s important to have those guys playing well.”
Hodgson is one of five Towson players who has started every game this season (junior attackman Thomas DeNapoli, junior defenseman Billy Choiniere, sophomore defenseman JoJo Ostrander and senior goalkeeper Andrew Wascavage are the others), but Cuccinnello missed three starts and Mabus began the year as an attackman.
“We’ve been trying to figure out who are the best pieces to fit together and I think it usually takes a while for that to happen,” Nadelen said. “Justin was injured a lot during the fall. So we didn’t know what he was going to bring, and Greg was coming off of his freshman year and still trying to figure out who he was and what he is capable of doing. So I think it’s a good time of the year for them to start connecting with other, and I hope they continue to play hard.”
Towson (7-6 overall and 3-1 in the CAA) could use more showings from Hodgson, Mabus and Cuccinnello as they enjoyed against the Nittany Lions. If the midfield can continue to convert opportunities, opponents will have to pay more attention to that trio, and that could alleviate some of the burden on DeNapoli and sophomore attackman Cory Dobyns.
“I think having a balanced offense is important in any system. I think a good midfield and a good attack makes it harder for a defense to prepare for both ends of the field,” Nadelen said. “When Thomas DeNapoli is playing well with Cory Dobyns, that allows the other guys to shift the focus, and the other guys in our offense can be just as productive and efficient. So I think that allows us to be more dynamic.”