Towson Continues to Roll at Home

The Towson Tigers were able to extend their winning streak and remain perfect on the season after 3 wins over familiar East Coast opponents in UMD, UVA, and VCU.  Towson continues to have a firm hold on most of the East Coast, and are in a prime position to compete for a national championship.  While the other aforementioned teams are still a step behind, there were some noteworthy performances from this past weekend that are worth recognizing, and we are starting to get a clearer picture of the East Coast as a whole.

Towson

Towson def VCU 3-1
Towson def UMD 4-1
Towson def UVA 4-0

As mentioned before, Towson completed their home tournament with three wins and jumped up to 2nd overall in the latest Gonzalez Standings.  While the scorelines aren’t significantly dominating, they played consistently well throughout the day and didn’t appear in danger of blowing any of their matches.  The biggest positive for Towson was how well they were able to show their depth.  Coming into the weekend they were down three starters, including recent Baller of the Month winner Jordan Watt.  As a result there were going to be legitimate questions about who could pick up the load with his absence.  Based on the results, it’s clear those questions were answered.  As President Colin Sporer put it,

“I was pleased with a lot of guys who stepped up and played to our style of play.  Dylan Juengert, Alex Hussey and Colin Moerman were exceptional.  Kyle Strong and Hunter Friedman headlined our strong freshmen class, and everyone did a good job of shaking off the rust and getting 3 more wins.”

Next weekend is going to be an important mission for Towson.  While they have solidified their dominance in the East Coast, they are now tasked with taking down the rest of the NCDA as they travel to Kent State for the Summit Street Slugfest.  At the moment, they are projected 3-0 favorites over Ohio, Kent State, and BGSU, but Towson is not taking any of their opponents lightly.

“We will be focused at practice this week to get tuned up before facing 3 high quality opponents on Saturday.  Ohio is coming off of a strong showing at Pinkout, Kent will be tricky since we’ve already seen them twice, and obviously we’re excited to see Bowling Green again.  Expectations are to continue to play our game and leave with 3 more wins.

VCU

Towson def VCU 3-1
VCU def UVA 3-2 OT
VCU def UMD 3-0

The Rams went through a weird cycle against their opponents this weekend.  Against Towson, VCU struggled out the gate in the first half, and was down to a 2-point halftime deficit.  In the second half however, they gained tons of momentum thanks to some big catches from RJ Morgan, and were able to bring it within 1 with about 14 minutes left.  Unfortunately for them, Towson was able to put the nail in the coffin and score another point in a little over 7 minutes, all but securing a victory.

In the following match against UVA it was a similar situation.  VCU was sluggish in the first half and fell behind UVA after the Cavaliers took a 2-0 lead, scoring the 2nd point with only 12 seconds remaining on the clock.  The second half was a different story.  They came out with a lot more energy and started to put together plays more consistently, leading to a tie at the end of regulation.  It was a stalemate to start in overtime, but some big catches ultimately swung the match into VCU’s favor to close.

In their last game against Maryland, the two teams were back and forth throughout the match, however VCU found ways to string just a couple more plays together consistently to win each of the points.  It was more of a team effort than specific individuals sparking things for the team.

This year’s VCU team has more or less the same talent that we saw a year ago, and in a year where many teams in last year’s top 10 lost significant talent, this team can and should take advantage of that.  The lack of playing time this season showed against Towson and UVA.  A bevy of communication errors and independent play hurt them in many ways, almost costing them their first ever defeat to UVA.  VCU sophomore and Assistant Captain Ike Fleckenstein mentioned this as well, saying, “the team needs more tournaments in order to get the chemistry down.”

All is not doom and gloom though.  There were many players who stepped up at different moments, and they were able to get the most out of their veteran players.  Captains Wayne Shortt, RJ Morgan, Kelvonte Nesmith, and Ike Fleckenstein all contributed in the team’s overtime victory.  Additionally, many lesser known players had good spurts such as Isaac Waggoner and Tre Edmonds.  This squad has a higher ceiling than some will give them credit for, it’s just a matter of gaining the experience needed to take it to the next level.

UVA

UMD def UVA 2-1
VCU def UVA 3-2 OT
Towson def UVA 4-0

Going into a tournament short-handed is never easy, and this weekend made that clear for UVA. However, they weren’t going to let a roster of 11 stop them from competing. Led by captains Zane Durbin, Jeremy Shaw, and Ryan Kelly, this team looked to come out of Towson with at least one victory. As noted above, that wasn’t quite the result that the Cavaliers got.

Starting out the day with Maryland, it was the usual back and forth affair. Maryland took the first point, Virginia the second, and Maryland taking the third. With time running out in the second half, UVA had a chance to tie it up. As the clock approached zero, they saw their 3 v 1 opportunity slip away. It was UVA’s first loss to Maryland in a calendar year, and certainly a matchup that they’ll be looking forward to next time.

Maybe feeling the pressure of a potential 0-3 day, the Cavaliers came out firing on all cylinders against VCU. This helped them jump out to the aforementioned 2-0 halftime lead, with some huge performances from Vik Gupta and Zane Durbin. The second half told a different story, where UVA quickly saw their lead disappear. Forced to bleed out the clock and force an overtime, UVA still had hope of their first ever win over VCU. Due to a finger injury, assistant captain Jeremy Shaw unfortunately wasn’t able to play in OT after a solid day thus far, so the roster was comprised of Durbin, Kelly, Gupta, second-year stud Myles McPartland, along with rookies Jake Korman and Reid Clark. VCU picked apart the OT squad one-by-one and ultimately handed UVA their second heartbreaking loss of the day.

Exhausted and overmatched, UVA went into their final game against Towson looking to gain some experience and get one more solid game in before heading home. The Cavaliers had some flashes of hope during the game but the final score tells the tale, as this one ended 4-0.

Overall, UVA showed that they had what it takes to compete with everybody on the East Coast not named Towson or JMU, regardless of how many guys they bring. They had three promising rookies make the trip in Korman, Clark, and Hunter Flora, who are all guys that played big roles in UVA’s successes on the day. Look for this team to reload their roster and come out full force at their next tournament.

UMD

UMD def UVA 2-1
Towson def UMD 4-1
VCU def UMD 3-0

The Terps picked up their first win of the season in their opening match.  It is clear to see the improvement in this team from last year to now both physically and mentally.  While historically this has been a team that relies on catching to compete, there were some stronger arms this season than we’ve been accustomed to in recent years.  James Klimkiewicz was one of the team’s top players throughout the day, showing off his arm and athletic ability multiple times throughout the day.  Zach Fernald and Nathan Stock also showed good skill at both ends of the floor.

In their first game of the day, Maryland took advantage of every mistake that UVA made. Their counter throws were hitting, they were nailing out of position UVA players in the neutral zone, and just overall catching players off guard. This ultimately was the difference maker in the end result, as UMD was able to slow the pace of play down and focus on who to get next. With the clock winding down in the second half, the Terps showed off their survival instincts as they were able to narrowly escape a last second comeback from UVA. It was a solid win for Maryland, as I’m sure they’re happy to get that one in the books.

Even with the growth that they’ve had in the off-season and over the course of this season, it is clear to see that they still have some untapped potential.  They came in with a good strategy against UVA, something UMD has been “lacking the last few semesters” according to President Vinnie DeMaio.  However, it did not appear they had a set gameplan in mind against Towson or VCU.  This is something that will need to be improved upon going forward.  Ultimately, UMD I believe has much more upset potential this year as compared to the previous two years, and the momentum gained from defeating UVA should carry over into more games during the season.

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