(Photo Courtesy of Towson Athletics)
During the shortened 2020 season, the Towson Tigers went 0-6 and lost all but one contest by five goals or more. On top of that, The Tigers were tied with Lafayette and Binghamton as the 69th-best scoring offense in the nation (7 goals per game), ranked 72nd in shooting percentage (.223), was tied with Penn for the 57th-best scoring defense (14 goals allowed per game), and was 72nd in faceoff win percentage (.302).
Simply put, despite being a year removed from taking Maryland to overtime in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, Towson was terrible in 2020.
This past spring, in many respects, the Tigers started their climb back to being one of the top teams in the CAA. Coming into their annual rivalry game against Loyola with a 2-5 record that included two one-goal losses, the Tigers pulled off the upset and took down the Greyhouds 7-6 in overtime off an unassisted Tim Montgomery goal.
While the Tigers fell a week later, 8-7, at Hofstra, they would follow that contest up with a three-game winning streak in a span of seven days, beating Fairfield, Hofstra, and UMass. Losses against Delaware and Drexel to end the season ultimately held the Tigers out of postseason play, but not by much thanks to that impressive run in mid-April.
Coming into the 2022 season, Towson will look to continue push forward and back towards the top of the CAA. They showed last season that this was a talented roster that could compete within the conference just as they had before, and while they ultimately fell short of their goals in 2021, the story for Shawn Nadelen and his squad could be very different this coming season.
Towson ranked in the bottom half of DI last season in scoring offense as they averaged 9.5 goals per game. They also ranked 49th in man-up offense, cashing in on .273% of such opportunities, and ended the year at 43rd in assists per game (5.43). Those numbers could very well go up this season with as much talent on that end as the Tigers’ return and bring in, as well as the fact that normalcy is returning in 2022.
The Tigers return four of their top five point-getters from a year ago in senior James Avanzato, Andrew Milani, Ryan Swain, and Austin Stewart. Avanzato started all 14 games at attack while leading the team with 40 points off 18 goals and 22 assists. Milani, who earned CAA All-Rookie honors, put up 23 goals and two assists for 25 points as the Tigers’ second-leading scorer, and Swain tallied notched 24 points (15G/9A) as Towson’s top midfielder, earning First Team All-CAA honors. Stewart had 17 points (9G/8A) as the team’s fifth-leading scorer.
In addition to that returning core, Towson will see guys like Tim Montgomery (8G/3), Alex Reid (3G/3A), and multiples others who could take a step forward return this spring. The Tigers have also added a pair of transfers from Maryland in midfielder Kyle Berkley and attackman Nick DeMaio who could make a significant impact for this offense this coming season.
Defensively, the Tigers were a fairly solid team last season as they ranked 31st, along with Hobart and UAlbany, in scoring defense (allowing 11 goals per game) while also ranking 8th in DI in man-down defense, coming up successful on 73% of such opportunities.
Towson returns their entire starting defense from a year ago with Redshirt junior Garrett Zungailia (40GB/15CT), fifth-year senior Koby Smith (23GB/13CT), and sophomore Colby Barsz (17GB/12CT). Additionally, redshirt senior Shane Brennan returns in between the pipes after posting a .519% save percentage off 159 saves a season ago.
The Tigers’ will see their top LSM in Mo Sillah return to lead that rope unit after a stellar campaign in 2021 in which he recorded 22 ground balls and 14 caused turnovers. SSDM Brandon Hund also returns and could be a crucial piece of that defense again. He grabbed 10 ground balls and caused five turnovers last spring.
While the Tigers certainly have the talent on both ends of the field to take a step forward in 2022, if they truly want to take another step back towards the top of the CAA they will need to improve their play at the faceoff dot, especially in today’s game where so much hinders on a team’s ability to consistently possess the ball. Towson was, for the second year, among the worst faceoff teams in college lacrosse last spring as they went an overall .364% at the dot as a team. Shane Santora served as the team’s primary option at the position, going 67-for-177 (.379%).
The Tigers can improve in every other aspect of the game but, especially in today’s game, if they can’t possess the ball off the faceoff at a higher percentage than they have the past few seasons any hope of getting back to the top of the CAA may be lessened.