Home-field advantage for First Round
When Towson locked up the Colonial Athletic Association conference title with a 16-11 win over Hofstra last Saturday at Towson University Stadium, Head Coach Tony Seaman and the Tigers could finally breathe a sigh of relief. After starting the season 1-3, Towson bounced back and went on to clinch a spot in the 16-team NCAA men?s lacrosse championship tournament by earning the CAA?s automatic bid.
However, Towson?s jubilation was short lived. On Monday, the official championship pairings came out, and Towson was pitted against the Penn State Nittany Lions — a team Seaman called one of the best in the nation.
?Anytime you?re in the playoffs, competition goes up,? said the fifth-year Towson coach, who led the team to the NCAA semi-finals two seasons ago. ?They?re one of the hotter teams in the country. They only lost to Virginia by one goal. They?re as good as any team we?ve played this year. They might not have the depth of a [Johns] Hopkins, a Maryland or a Virginia, but their top-12 guys are as talented.?
Seaman is particularly cognizant of Penn State?s goalie, Chris Garrity.
?He?s as good as any goalie we?ve seen,? Seaman said of Garrity, who has 151 saves on the season and a save percentage of .568.
Seaman also said Penn State is a good-sized team and is aware of its midfield unit.
?They?re very big and have very strong midfielders,? Seaman said. ?They do a lot of dodging and a lot of scoring. They all throw it in the net pretty good.?
Specifically, Seaman mentioned Will Jones and Rob Bateman as players that the Tigers will be looking out for Saturday night.
Jones has 10 goals on the season, while Bateman has eight assists.
On the attack front, Nate Whitaker, Luke Ogelsby and Marshall Feldman will pose a serious threat for sophomore goalie Reed Sothoran and the Towson defense.
Whitaker leads the team in points with 33, which includes a team-high 23 goals and a second-best 10 assists. Ogelsby leads the team in assists with 19 and also has netted 13 goals, while Feldman has 19 goals and seven assists.
One thing that weighs heavily in Towson?s favor is home-field advantage.
?That always helps,? Seaman said about playing the first game inside the familiar confines of Towson. ?It?s wonderful to be home. We have a little experience being here, at least our juniors and seniors do.?
Seaman said this Saturday?s game should be exciting and interesting because of Penn State?s style of play.
?They play a very similar style to us, which should make this game one of the more exciting games of the year,? he said.
NOTE: This is Towson?s seventh appearance in the NCAA Tournament and the second time it has used an automatic bid.