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– Ridley Athletic Complex, Baltimore, MD
The Towson Tigers dropped their second consecutive game to a crosstown opponent Saturday afternoon at Loyola. The first five minutes of the game were rather uneventful, both teams feeling one another out, attempting to find the weak spots of their opponent.
The Greyhounds put the first dent in the game at the 9:50 mark of the first quarter when attackman Andrew Lusby picked up a loose ball behind Towson’s net and spotted midfielder Sean O’Sullivan slyly uncovered 10 yards from the top of the crease. Amid the confusion of the Towson defense, O’Sullivan caught the feed from Lusby and whipped in a sidearm shot, beating Towson goalie Andrew Wascavage on his offside hip with ease.
This play foreshadowed what would be a long day for the Tigers, seemingly watching Loyola spin the ball around with accuracy and purpose and finishing with no hesitation.
Towson got on the board with a Sean Maguire goal at the 6:13 mark in the first quarter to make it 2-1 Loyola. The Tigers wouldn’t net another goal for 15 minutes. In that time frame Loyola increased its lead to 6-1, finding their offensive rhythm and rattling the confidence of the Tigers offense.
The Greyhounds dominance was most visible on the offensive side of the ball, where the midfielders and attackmen did a superb job of getting the ball out of their sticks following a dodge. This enables a quick re-dodge for a teammate, which time after time caught Towson’s defense off guard. Efficient ball movement with no wasted motion seemed to be Loyola Head Coach Charley Toomey’s point of emphasis.
Two Greyhounds, attackman Mike Sawyer and the junior midfield transfer from Army, Sean O’Sullivan each tallied four goals on the day. O’Sullivan was rather impressive, dodging strong and scanning the field for teammates on nearly every possession, the key to his game is not forcing shots off his dodges, instead waiting for a redirect or a gap in the defense to get his hands free for a 10-15 yard shot. Both players seemed to pick their spots at will on whichever Towson goalie was in the net.
Wascavage started off the game for the Tigers in the first half recording nine saves but also allowing eight goals. The senior Travis Love played the entire second half in goal, fairing slightly better with five saves, but only five goals allowed. Neither keeper had a particularly bad outing, the Tigers defense just happened to allow Loyola to put 49 shots on goal. Any goalie/goalies will look bad when facing that many shots.
The score was 8-2 in favor of Loyola at halftime, Love entered the game in the 3rd quarter only to be bombarded by three straight goals to open the half as he attempted to find his bearings coming in cold off the bench. At that point it was 11-2, Loyola completely in control and the game was all but over. Towson tried to find some momentum going into next week, finishing the game with two goals in the final three minutes.
If Towson needs to improve in one specific area, they need to look no further than Loyola’s offensive blueprint. The Tigers far too often relied on one guy to make a strong move towards the goal, while Loyola played very unselfish, constantly looking for the next guy to take a higher percentage shot. Towson has a nice foundation in Maguire(2 goals), midfielder Thomas DeNaopli(1 g, 1 assist), attackman Matt Hughes(1 g, 1 a) and the freshman midfielder Justin Mabus who scored his first career goal for Towson and added two assists.
Coach Shawn Nadelen needs to work this week to find out which combination of middies and attackmen make for the most efficient ball movement and unselfish play. Their talent isn’t overwhelming at any one position, so this Tigers squad needs to learn how to play as a team and trust each other moving forward to next Saturday’s home-opener against Mount St. Mary’s at 1 p.m.
You can catch next Saturday’s game v. The Mount live on WNST 1570 AM. Coverage begins at 12:30.