Towson University hosted the first East Coast tournament of the season at Burdick Hall which featured Towson, Maryland, Stevenson, and VCU. For the very first tournament for every team, there were a lot of positives to take away, but also a lot of things to improve on for each team. I will be analyzing each team and highlighting some of the key takeaways from the tournament.
This was the first time Towson has ever gone undefeated during a tournament, and they earned every single win outright. Their results included a 4-2 win over Maryland, a 4-0 win over VCU, and another 3-0 win over Stevenson. What went right for the Tigers? More or less, everything. As a team, they caught very well all day, their throws were connecting, and they stuck it to every single team that they played. Some of the main players to highlight include Mike Hinely, Nick Cerdeira, and Jonathon Soward. Hinely arguably had one of the best performances of the tournament, including 9 kills in the first half alone against Maryland. Cerdeira complemented him by making a string of catches all day, and Soward proved to be one of the most athletic players on the court once again. John Shaw also did a great job keeping his teamed poised and under control all day, while making some key plays throughout the day. Towson looked better on Sunday than they did for most of their team’s history, and from the looks of it, they are only going to get better throughout the season.
Like Towson, this is one of the best team’s in program history. Results from Sunday included a 7-0 win versus Stevenson, a 4-0 loss to Towson, and a 3-1 victory over Maryland. The obvious blemish is their lone loss to Towson. The game was generally more competitive than the scored indicated, with each point lasting roughly 12 minutes. There were some big moments from the Rams throughout the day though, and some players who really stepped up in tough situations. Wayne Shortt was the top performer against Stevenson with 12 kills and 4 catches to lead the way. Stephen Cathey had a great day overall, including an especially great performance against Towson with 5 catches, and Hunter Ford stepped up against Maryland. His performance included 12 kills for the entire match, and scoring the last point of the first half with 0:35 left despite a 6-2 player advantage for Maryland. It was great to see different players stepping up for VCU, however, if they hope to compete against the top tier teams, they will need to get big performances from every player all the time. Overall, a solid performance for the Rams, but they still need to show a lot more to prove to the rest of the league that they are contenders.
As stated earlier in the week, Maryland went through a pretty big player overhaul during the offseason. Their results included a 4-2 loss to Towson, a 3-1 win against Stevenson, and a 3-1 loss to VCU. Despite the results, Maryland showed a lot of promise. As expected, Justin Anderson and Matt Greenspan were the top performers for their team. Greenspan was a big bright spot for the Terps against Towson, giving his team 6 kills and 4 catches for the match, and Anderson played big as well leading his team in kills in their win over Stevenson. Maryland brought a lot of rookies to the tournament, but they showed raw potential. They certainly do not lack athletes, and there are a couple strong arms in that group. The biggest task for them is refining their skills, and learning to work together with the rest of their team. After that, Maryland will become a tough team to face later in the season. This team is young and hungry, and there is no doubt in my mind they will be able to snag some multi-win tournaments this year, they just need to capitalize on their new group of players.
Like Maryland, Stevenson has a lot of new faces on their team, and it was pretty apparent for the day. However, Kristofer DeJesus was good…scary good. It seemed like his whole body was made of glue on Sunday, catching anything and everything that came his way. Against VCU alone he had 5 catches in a single point, and proved it wasn’t a fluke by putting up the same numbers against Maryland and Towson. On top of that, he had one of the strongest arms at the tournament. It was incredible to watch this guy play, and hopefully the rest of the league will get the opportunity to watch him play. Stevenson had some other strong athletes as well, beating most teams off the line and getting a nice balls advantage to start games. The biggest issue for the Mustangs though is their depth. Outside of a solid 3-4 players, this team has a lot of work on, but the potential is there. If they learn how to play smart and play together, this team will be able to get their first win of the season sooner rather than later.
The Bottom Line
Towson is a solid team. VCU has continued its upward trend. Maryland picked up a great recruiting class. Stevenson has one of the top 10 players in the league. This first tournament provided a good perspective on where teams stand in the East Coast region. Now, it will be interesting to see where other teams fit into the mix like Penn State, JMU, and UVA. Only time will tell, but at the moment, the East Coast looks solid.
The next East Coast tournament will be the Virginia Commonwealth Cup, Saturday October 1st at VCU’s Cary St. Gym. Current teams attending include VCU, Maryland, and Towson.