TOWSON, Md. - Recruiting is the lifeblood of any program. So for Towson men's lacrosse coach Shawn Nadelen, one of his major tasks is to replace the 14 seniors who are leaving the program.
Nadelen will bring in more than a dozen freshmen and two transfers to replace them. While Nadelen can't comment yet on the transfers, he was excited about the prospects of bringing (at the moment at least) two face-off guys (they lost Ian Mills and Matt Thomas), three midfielders, four attackmen, three defensemen and a goaltender. For the most part, Nadelen was able to recruit for his philosophy and his system, though in men's lacrosse, some players give verbal's as early as their junior and even sophomore seasons in high school.
"Within recruiting, we're really identifying those types of guys that will be productive in our system," said Nadelen. "We have a group of (high school) seniors that are very talented and some transfers that we are excited about. They all have the ability on the offensive end to adjust and adapt the way we need them to, and defensively they will be really sound for us. We'll have some hybrid guys that can play defensive-midfield, two-way middie and short stick. We realize that we have some holes to fill with a big senior class graduating. It's a fun and exciting class coming in."
Towson recruited heavily in Maryland and New York, but also Pennsylvania and Ohio. One of those players from Ohio who could make an early impact is midfielder Nick Neale from Dublin.
"Nick is impressive to just look at," said Nadelen. "He played AAU basketball. He's 6-3 with wide shoulders. He's raw and just got back to playing lacrosse two years ago. He's big and can run and he's a worker. He's a guy that can be an impact guy on the offensive or defensive end. He's an athlete."
Longstick midfielder Aaron Moroney played high school in New York at Millbrook but is a native of Ontario.
"Moroney is a Canadian kid who is part of the under 19 Canadian team," said Nadelen. "He brings a little bit of edge and toughness, something that we need."
With John Kenyon and Sean Sheehe graduating, the Tigers needed some help defensively.
Andrew Cordes, at 6-foot-2, 195 pounds, arrives from Irondequoit, N.Y., while Mike Lowe is a 6-foot-1 defender who attends Urbana (Md.) H.S.
"Cordes is a steady system defenseman," said Nadelen. "He plays for a great program and played in championship games. He will be a very strong, consistent player for us. Lowe is a great athlete who also played football in high school. He's a tough kid who likes to mix it up. He can come in and compete right away."
Offensive help is also on the way. Chris Vetter from Doylestown, Pa, and Nick Wynne from Glenelg (Md.) H.S. have a chance for playing time right away with Matt Lamon and Sean Maguire graduating.
"Vetter is a guy that can play attack or midfield," said Nadelen. "He's got tremendous athleticism, great speed and the ball pops out of his stick on passes. He has a real sharp release. He gets to the cage and has pretty good vision. I think he'll fit in pretty well with what we run. Chris will be an immediate impact within our team. Wynne is a terrific player and a left-handed attackman, who will have an opportunity to play right away because of our vacancies at the attack position."
Other players who saw very little time due to injuries this year that could have impacts as sophomores in 2013 are midfielders Brian Prendergast (5-9, 165) and Ben McCarty (5-8, 160).
"They were on the first midfield during the fall," explained Nadelen."They have great athleticism and toughness. They're not huge kids, but they give us toughness, explosiveness and speed. They are playmakers and they'll help us a lot."
Two players who are graduating had different types of roles throughout the year but eventually had very strong senior seasons, impressing Nadelen.
"Sean Maguire impressed me with his effort level increasing to allow himself to be on the field as much as he was," said Nadelen. "It showed with him scoring 20 goals.
His ability to make the plays on the offensive end, off the ball and with the ball were huge for us. Matt Lamon was also good for us last year. He was playing with a three-quarters torn labrum and couldn't practice most weeks. He was in a sling and wasn't able to withstand the physical contact. He took some serious abuse and wanted to come back and play more. Once he got healthy, he deserved to be on the field. He got some goals early in games and that was a huge spark for us."
One thing that Nadelen wants to change for next season is the schedule. With Maryland dropping Towson off its schedule in October, the Tigers were forced to have an open date this year on March 10 instead of playing a game before playing Navy on May 13.
"During the bye we were extremely banged up. We had some concussions and that helped us heal," said Nadelen. "That bye week was good and bad. We tried to scrimmage to stay sharp and competitive. With so many guys hurt though, we couldn't get up and down the field."
In April, the Tigers played a mid-week game against UMBC before playing undefeated UMass on Saturday. The week before, they made their remarkable comeback against Hofstra in double overtime. For a team with a lack of depth, the comebacks while playing three games in seven days wore them down.
"That week we went from playing at Hofstra on a Saturday to playing UMBC on a Wednesday to travelling up to UMass on the next weekend," said Nadelen. "That was a bear of a week. We were fortunate to get two wins including Hofstra, a team we hadn't beaten in a while up there (and UMBC). Especially the way we won that game in double overtime coming back six down takes a lot out of a team emotionally and physically (Sophomore defenseman) John Fennessy was face down on the turf 15 minutes because he played with a back injury and couldn't even walk. He had to be carted off the field. He ends up not playing in the UMBC game. It was another game that was back and forth. We battled back again after they got a good lead in the fourth. The energy and everything you have to expend to get the win takes a lot out of your team."
Fennessy did play against UMass, who did have a mid-week game. UMass won the game 14-3, putting up 10 goals in the second half. Towson never seemed to recover from that game physically or emotionally.
"We get a quick turnaround going up to UMass, a team that was flying as high as you can. My worry going into that game was how much did we had left in the tank? It just showed we didn't have any juice in our legs or pop. We couldn't get by them offensively and our defense really struggled in the second half to play sharp. They got a lot of transition stuff on us which kind of breaks your back. That week was defining during the schedule in a couple of ways. The resolve of our team to win those games showed a lot, but also how we had to win those games hurt us going forward after that point."