The Towson and Johns Hopkins men's lacrosse teams will meet at Johnny Unitas Stadium Feb. 9 in a highly anticipated early-season game. The matchup will be the first of the season for both teams. Hopkins comes into the game ranked No. 7 in the
Inside Lacrosse media preseason poll, while Towson enters unranked, though the Tigers did receive votes.
Johns Hopkins head coach Dave Pietramala and Towson head coach Shawn Nadelen joined
Glenn Clark Radio
Jan. 29 and gave insight to each of their respective teams.
Johns Hopkins is coming off a successful 2018 campaign, during which they won their second Big Ten tournament in the past four years. While Hopkins' 12-5 record was its best since the 2012 season, the Jays still came up short of their ultimate goal of winning a national championship when they lost to Duke in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
Here are some key players for the Blue Jays:
- Senior defenseman Patrick Foley was named a preseason first-team All-American by
Inside Lacrosse and will be the biggest returning piece on defense for Hopkins this season. He made an immediate impact as a freshman in 2016 but missed the entire 2017 season for academic reasons. He then cemented himself as one of the top defenders in the country in 2018.
Hopkins' defense will be its strength in the early going. All three starters -- Foley, Jack Rapine and Owen Colwell -- return, as well as long-stick midfielders Robert Kuhn and Jared Reinson.
- Senior attackman Kyle Marr had a huge 2018 season. He was named to the Big Ten All-Tournament team and was an honorable mention All-America selection by USILA. He is the most important offensive player coming back for the Blue Jays in 2019 after he led the team in goals (41) and points (58) and was third on the team in assists (17) last season.
The Blue Jays' offense has taken a hit; 48.6 percent of their scoring departed with last year's graduating senior class.
"To have an offensive leader like Kyle that is a high IQ guy, that's played a number of years, that has an understanding of what we want to run versus zone or man, where we are in the clock and what needs to kind of happen … he's invaluable there, and we need him to make sure we're organized because we are so young at the midfield," Pietramala said.
- Hopkins' goalies are sophomore Ryan Darby, junior Jacob Giacalone Jr. and freshman Alex Gainey. Darby is the only one of the three who has seen any collegiate game action; he gave up two goals and recorded one save in little action last year.
"While we're unproven in the goal in game situations," Pietramala said, "we feel good about what we've done in practice and the scrimmages."
Towson didn't have the same success in 2018 it experienced from 2015-2017. Towson finished 7-8 and came short of winning the Colonial Athletic Association. The Tigers fell, 12-8, to Massachusetts in the conference title game. The Tigers were solid at home, winning five of seven at Johnny Unitas Stadium, but struggled on the road, going just 1-6.
Here are some key players for the Tigers:
- Senior midfielder Zach Goodrich, the CAA Defensive Player of the Year in 2018, and was named a preseason first-team All-American by
"He can play great defense [and] he can be serviceable on the offensive end and do well there," Nadelen said. "Those traits fit very well into shorter possession time and ability to create transition."
- Senior midfielder Alex Woodall was also recognized by
Inside Lacrosse, which named him as a preseason third-team All-American. Woodall has a .598 career faceoff percentage, winning 356 of 595 opportunities. He's also collected 195 ground balls during his two-year career at Towson.
"He's put in a lot of work to put himself in position to [have a big year]," Nadelen said. "This summer he dedicated himself and he trimmed himself down physically."
- Redshirt sophomore goalie Shane Brennan had a great rookie campaign, earning himself a spot on the CAA All-Rookie team. He saved 125 out of 245 shots for a .510 save percentage, and he had a 9.33 goals-against average throughout the season.
To hear more from Pietramala, listen to the full interview here:
To hear more from Nadelen, listen to the full interview here:
Photo Credits: Courtesy of Towson Athletics and Courtesy of Johns Hopkins Athletics