April 22, 2010

Tony's Tigers Crawl Back from the Brink

by Chris R. Vaccaro | Special to Lacrosse Magazine Online

Tony Seaman was not in the mood to talk about his expiring contract Wednesday, not with Towson surging in the CAA.

© Scott Thornton/Towson University Athletics

It’s April Madness in Colonial Athletic Association men's lacrosse, and Towson of all teams has clawed its way to the top of the conference.

After stumbling out of the gate to a 1-5 record to start the year, the Tigers have rattled off four straight wins and sport a 3-0 conference record with three games left this year.

The No. 14 Tigers received their first national ranking of the year this week, and rightfully so after upsetting UMass and Drexel in consecutive weeks.

The team will tell you, however, that its 9-7 win over Delaware on April 3 was an instant eye-opener.

“That was pretty big for us,” said grad student Christian Pastirik, who has 13 points in the last four games (18 goals and 15 assists overall). “They’ve been playing a tough schedule, and have some great scorers. We played well against them and that gave us a lot of confidence. We fought toe-to-toe and came out on top.”

Towson’s five loses were not to lowly teams. It dropped games against Stony Brook, Maryland, Virginia, lost by one goal to Loyola (7-6) and was beat by Bucknell to open the season.

“We’ve played pretty well all year long, despite the losses,” said Towson coach Tony Seaman, whose contract expires at the end of the year. “We played Virginia as well as anyone played them this year except for Duke.”

Seaman attributed team’s recent success to three things: chemistry, adaptation to opposing defenses and gaining in-game experience throughout the season.

“At 1-5, you have to look deep and build some character,” said Seaman, who declined comment on his contract situation in an interview Wednesday. “The schedule doesn’t get any easier, but you have to give our kids some credit.”

Pastirik said the coaching staff has made limited personnel changes. Instead, players have changed their approach on the field.

“We didn’t have any flow with our offense,” he said.

Now they are dodging more before they shoot and attacking the backside of the cage more aggressively.

Penciled in for the rest of the year are Penn State (Saturday), Hopkins (April 28) and Hofstra (May 1) – not an easy task for any team. With a win against the Nittany Lions, who recently upset Hofstra for just their second win of the season, the Tigers can clinch the regular season CAA title.

Hopkins is in the midst of an uncharacteristically poor season, Hofstra (7-4 overall) is a mess at 1-3 in CAA play and Penn State is 2-9 overall. The Pride lost to Penn State, 11-10, last weekend in overtime, and UMass (2-2 CAA, 7-4 overall) lost to Delaware (1-2, 6-6).

Yes, it’s a crapshoot, but Towson is the hottest team heading down the stretch.

“There is a different air in the locker room” Pastirik said. “Once we started putting a few wins together, we realized we could control our destiny."

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