By MILTON KENT
The way it often works on college athletic teams, the upperclassmen spend their time treating the freshmen with the same level of respect and caring that the Alpha Betas extended to the put-upon geeks in the movie “Revenge of the Nerds.”
Which is, to say, none.
But for Tiger freshman Justin Mabus, (below) the experience has been rather the op posite.
His elders on the men’s lacrosse team have been quite the proper hosts.
“They make me feel like I’m not a freshman and that’s what you need,” said Mabus. “They make every day feel like you’ve been here for multiple years. The comfort level is ridiculous.”
And that ridiculous comfort level has helped Mabus, a midfielder, fit right in with the Tigers and to provide immediate value.
To wit: Mabus was named Colonial Athletic Association Rookie of the Week last week for the second straight week on the heels of capping the greatest fourth quarter comeback in more than 50 years of Towson men’s lacrosse.
Mabus scored the game-winning goal with 38 seconds left in the second overtime of a 10-9 win over No. 20 Hofstra. Towson had trailed 9-3 in the fourth quarter in the road victory over the Pride.
The week before, Mabus, a Yorktown Heights, N.Y. native, dished out three assists in a win over Mercer, then scored his first collegiate goal three days later in helping the Tigers beat Delaware.
“I’m just lucky to play with the group of guys that I’m playing with now,” said Mabus.
Mabus credits seniors Carl Iacona, a midfielder, and defenseman John Kenyon for setting the daily tone in practice that hard work yields results, like the five-game winning streak Towson enjoyed before Saturday’s loss at No.2 Massachusetts.
They’re the scorers, the thunder behind a potent Tiger offense that averaged 12.4 goals a game during the recent win streak. Meanwhile, Mabus has directed that power, as a distributor.
“That (the offensive firepower) just makes my job so much easier,” said Mabus. “For assists, I just throw the ball and they have the skill to finish. I don’t know how to explain it, but I just do my job, they do their job and the offense works.”
The coaching staff would actually like to take better advantage of Mabus’ .750 shot on goal percentage to further exploit his skills and, thus, give the offense another weapon.
And Mabus wants to do that also, as well as shore up his defense and boost his speed and agility.
But that’s down the road. For now, Mabus is quite content to do whatever he can to bolster the Tigers’ chances in the upcoming CAA tournament and then the NCAA tournament.
“I’m going to do my job (and) pass it to my guy,” said Mabus. “And my guy is going to finish because that’s how the coaches have us play, with confidence and trust. It’s the No.1 thing that makes a team successful. I think we have that.”
In this case, the kid is doing alright.