In four consecutive games to open the season, the Towson men's lacrosse team uncharacteristically allowed opponents to score 12 or more goals.
The Tigers (2-3) rebounded with hard-fought 8-6 victory against visiting UMBC March 3.
Towson head coach Shawn Nadelen hopes the defensive effort is a sign the team has turned the corner, especially with tough matchups against No. 14 Ohio State, No. 3 Duke and No. 4 Denver on the horizon.
"I feel we're playing a little bit more team defense, but we're still not complete with that yet," Nadelen said. "We definitely made some mistakes with not supporting each other. So there's a little more we need to work on there. I thought the guys did a good job adjusting on the fly. "
Against UMBC, Towson forced nine turnovers and won the ground-ball battle, 29-16. Junior midfielder Alex Woodall (St. Mary's) helped set the tone by winning 15 of 18 faceoffs. Towson also had just two failed clears and redshirt freshman goalie Shane Brennan made five saves in his first career victory.
The Tigers made the most of their chances on offense behind junior attackman Jon Mazza, who had a career-high seven points (five goals and two assists). Mazza (The Calverton School) said the performance was a good sign for the team after the slow start.
"Each game we've gotten better and better," Mazza said.
The Tigers don't have much time to relax, with a road game against the Buckeyes March 10. Ohio State lost to Marquette, 8-7, in overtime March 2, but bounced back with an 8-7 victory against Detroit Mercy two days later. As a result, the Buckeyes dropped six spots in the national rankings.
Nadelen, however, said the Tigers just need to play to their potential, which will ultimately lead to positive results.
"We know that wins aren't easy, regardless of who you're playing," Nadelen said. "We know our next opponent is going to be just as tough. They're coming off a tough loss. I'm sure they'll be chomping at the bit to get after it again. Our biggest challenge is not beating ourselves, not being our toughest opponent. I think that continues to be our toughest challenge."
No 2. Maryland vs. No. 1 Albany, noon, March 10
This is the biggest game of the early, college lacrosse season. The Terps (5-0) have shown solid balance and have cruised through the early part of their schedule. Maryland will be challenged to shut down the high-powered Great Danes, who are 4-0 and averaging almost 16 goals per game.
No. 7 Loyola vs. No. 3 Duke, 3 p.m. March 10
The Greyhounds (4-1) have once again put together one of the toughest schedules in college lacrosse. They face another tough test against the Blue Devils (5-1) and their talented attack. Look for Loyola to use it quick transition to keep Duke off-balance.
No. 17 Johns Hopkins at No. 6 Syracuse, 1 p.m. March 10
The Blue Jays (2-2) and the Orange (3-1) renew one of the greatest rivalries in college lacrosse in a series that began in 1921. The teams are meeting for the 57th time and the Blue Jays own a 29-26-1 advantage all-time. Johns Hopkins lost to Syracuse, 8-7, last season.
Navy vs. Lafayette on Saturday, noon March 10
The Midshipmen (3-3) are looking to bounce back from a disappointing 11-3 loss to No. 19 Penn in Sparks, Md., March 6. The Leopards are 2-4 on the season and looking for their first win in the Patriot League.
Mount St. Mary's vs. Mercer, 11 a.m. March 10
The Mountaineers (2-4) have been impressive on offense, averaging just more than 12 goals per game. Sophomore attackman Brenden McCarthy leads the team with 14 goals and 13 assists. Meanwhile, the Bears (2-4) have struggled to score this season.
UMBC vs, Marist on Saturday, 7 p.m. March 10
The Retrievers (1-3) are looking to snap a three-game losing streak after upsetting then-No. 20 Richmond in the opener. UMBC has played well defensively but it still looking to find its stride on the attack. The Red Foxes (1-6) are trying to snap a two-game skid.
No. 15 Stevenson at No. 8 Salisbury, Saturday, 1 p.m. March 10
The Seagulls (3-2) entered the season as a favorite to win their 13th overall and third straight national championship but have suffered two consecutive overtime losses to No. 5 Gettysburg and No. 18 Ohio Wesleyan. Salisbury has a home game against Kenyon March 7 before the showdown with Stevenson. The Mustangs (0-2) also stumbled out of the gate with a pair of losses to Denison and Gettysburg. This is a critical game for both teams.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Doug Kapustin