Scores from Maryland Madness
Towson def UMD 2-1
Penn St def UVA 4-2
Penn St def UMD 4-1
JMU def Towson 4-3 (OT)
JMU def UVA 3-2 (OT)
Penn St def Towson 3-1
Penn St def JMU 5-2
UMD def UVA 2-1
Scores from Towson Throwdown
Towson def UVA 3-1
JMU def Towson 3-1
UMD def UVA 3-1
JMU def UMD 4-0
JMU def UVA 5-0
Team by Team Recap and Breakdown
Penn State 4-0
While they couldn’t make it out to the Towson Throwdown, Penn State made enough noise at Maryland Madness to be considered the top team in the East at the moment. Their most notable result was the 5-2 shocking win over NCDA title contender JMU.
While their star players may be unknown to those across the league at the moment, I reckon that will change real soon. Versatile second-year players, such as Hunter Stewart, Joey Tiger, and Cloud Tapia-Manon, have All-East Coast potential this season. Marty Gold appears to be a contender for Rookie of the Year after only 4 games played. Preseason, captain Mason Blanchard said “PSU is THAT team,” and they are backing that up. Through 4 games, it looks as if this group’s sole focus is maintaining their high ranking in the NCDA standings and bringing this program to new heights.
As many around the league know, JMU did not impress at Maryland Madness scraping by with OT wins over Towson and UVA while suffering a blowout defeat to Penn State. However, the Dukes came to Towson with one thing on their mind: show that they still deserve to be considered amongst the NCDA elite. While they couldn’t get their rematch with PSU, JMU did just that. By beating Towson, UVA, and UMD by a combined score of 12-1, it appears the first tournament of the year was just a fluke.
This JMU squad is filled with experience and talent. Even with the seemingly uncertain future of Evan Eschenburg in the NCDA, the Dukes will be difficult to stop. It is difficult to pick out a couple star players because they probably have 7-8 players that would be standouts on any squad in the league. They have cannons on the corners, such as Trent Shaffer, James (JT) Turner, and Kurt Lanetti, paired with elite catchers in the middle.
There does not appear to be many weaknesses in the abilities of this team. But as we often see with Dukes, organization and strategy sometimes is lacking which can hurt them while facing other top teams. At Towson, this group seemed quite upset that Penn State backed out of a potential rematch earlier that week. I can only imagine the next time JMU gets a shot at the Nittany Lions, they won’t miss.
The Tigers only were able to go 1-1 on their home court as they did not have time to finish off their likely victory over UMD. This a group that has some clear leaders and there appears to be a fairly large drop off after. Seniors Nate Urlock and Garrett Abbott are stars who could very well find themselves on the All-American list come April. 2021-2022 2nd Team All-American Kyle Strong is probably the best all around player on Towson, but will only play in the Fall Semester.
This team’s potential is dependent on who from the rest of the squad can step up. Can supporting veterans Scott Wilson, Tommy Mollen, and Grant Hines become big time players? Also, what will come of this year’s rookie class? Currently, they appear solidly the #3 team in the region. Only time will tell if this team can hang with the East Coast elite or find themselves stuck in the middle ground of the league.
UMD is probably one of the youngest teams in the NCDA this year. Of the 16 they brought to the Towson Throwdown, only one is a player graduating at the end of this year. The development of this squad over the course of the season will be something to watch. Sophomore Adam Butz and Junior Zach Demos have both taken leading this squad offensively in stride with huge kill totals in the first two outings of the year. However, this is not a group that has a ton of throwing depth. Based on how they play, that may not be the worst thing. The Terps play to their strengths by waiting for catches on the back line and pushing when they gain ball or player advantage.
Strategy is how this team can find themselves competing with top opponents. If they can force other teams to play at their pace, the Terps can make it close with any opponent. If UMD gets into a fast paced game, their chances against top squads are slim. Maryland has shown the ability to handle teams below them with ease. Challenging the top 10-12 teams should be the goal for this group. It could be huge for their development if they can make it to an out of region tournament this season. Rumor is they are trying to play in the WAR tournament hosted by Akron in February. For a team that went into Nationals last year with only 3 wins, 2-3 is a great start.
Usually you wouldn’t consider an 0-6 start to the season good in any capacity. UVA here, is an exception. Considering this is a young, inexperienced squad, they put up some pretty good fights against tough competition and already played more games than last year. Starting off at Maryland Madness, the Cavaliers almost pulled off an all time NCDA upset against perennial contender JMU while also showing up versus Towson and UMD.
It is unfortunate UVA was missing Alex Zuch and Nick Wells at Towson, as these two were some of the team’s best performers just two weeks prior. Virginia struggled a fair bit at the Towson Throwdown losing all 3 matches by 2+ points as a result. I do not think anyone who has seen this squad play will argue they do not possess some strong talent. One thing the group lacks is strategy and organization. If UVA is gonna have a chance to pick up some victories, they’ll need to clean up a lot in that area.