Towson enters the 2017 season as a favorite to win a third consecutive Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) Title.
“To keep playing ‘til [the National Championship], that’s been one of my goals since I was little,” Drenner said. “I know our senior class. When we came in freshman year, that was a goal of ours to accomplish during our four.”
Towson’s team impressed last year with a 10-9 upset of the second ranked Denver Pioneers, before being eliminated by local rival Loyola.
One of the keys to moving on further than the quarterfinals in the NCAA tournament will be improvment in winning faceoffs in big games.
In the two NCAA tournament contests last year, the Tigers won just nine of 44 faceoffs.
“Having more options this year is something we’re excited about,” Head Coach Shawn Nadelen said. “I think in the past we’ve had our number one option and then after that it’s been a little dicey, I don’t think we’re in that situation anymore.”
The biggest challenge Towson faces this year is replacing three starting defenders from last season plus standout goalkeeper Tyler White, who all graduated last spring.
Despite losing the starting defense from last year, Nadelen said the goal remains the same for Towson’s potent offense.
“I don’t think it puts pressure on our attack,” Nadelen said. “Our offense always puts pressure on themselves, we want to score on every possession we have.”
Drenner and fellow senior attacker Joe Seider will be looking to light up the scoreboard again this year. Seider lead the team in scoring with 35 goals, while Drenner scored 33 and provided 23 assists.
Whether the experienced attack or new defensive unit shoulder the load for the Tigers this year, the goal remains clear: play all the way to Memorial Day.
Head Coach Sonia LaMonica has led Towson to four CAA Championship Titles and three NCAA Tournament appearances since starting in 2011.
“I think the message has always been the same over the course of the years, and that is we’re willing to play anybody, and we need to beat the best in order to be the best,” LaMonica said.
Towson began its season with losses to Stony Brook and Penn State, but the team has since recorded its first win, defeating University of Maryland, Baltimore County, Wednesday.
Towson returns to action Feb. 22, traveling to Washington D.C. to face Georgetown. Last year, Towson defeated Georgetown at Johnny Unitas Stadium.
Looking ahead to the rest of the schedule, the Tigers will have a long stretch of non-conference play before they start CAA competition.
In non-conference play, Towson will host local rival Loyola, Florida, Stetson, Notre Dame and Oregon. The team will also travel for a road matchup against Monmouth.
In CAA play, the team will host William & Mary, Elon and Drexel, and travel to James Madison, Hofstra and Delaware. The Tigers will end the season by hosting local rival John Hopkins April 30.
Four of the Tigers’ opponents are ranked in the intercollegiate top-10, but LaMonica is confident that her team is up for the challenge.
“We’ve always played a competitive schedule in order to show that we wanna compete against top teams,” she said.
Towson is waiting to get its 2017 season started, and the team will play on the road in its first series of the year Feb. 24, against Cal State Northridge.
This year’s team is looking to improve upon last season, during which they went 20-35 overall and 10-14 in CAA games.
“The goal is to get into the conference tournament,” Head Coach Mike Gottlieb said. “I don’t think we are too far away from getting a spot.”
“Last year’s team was a young team and a lot of freshman played who are now sophomores,” Gottlieb said.
Sophomore Richie Palacios is coming off a successful freshman campaign in which he won CAA Rookie of the Year honors. He finished 2016 batting .329 with five home runs and 38 RBI.
Palacios played at second base last season but will make the transition to shortstop. Brady Policelli, last year’s shortstop, was drafted in the 13th round by the Detroit Tigers.
“Palacios had a great summer,” Gottlieb said. “He is a much more confident player than he was last year. He has the talent to be one of the best players in our conference.”
Along with Palacios, the team will bring back A.J. Gallo and Collin Guyer. Mark Grunberg will also return after sitting out last year due to injury.
“Even with having a young team last year, the young guys can get better,” Gottlieb said.
The Tigers will open at home against Wagner March 3-5 at John B. Schuerholz Park.
Towson will look to continue its run of playoff appearances in 2017 after having one of the best seasons in program history last year.
The Tigers finished with a 37-17 record, including 11-8 in the CAA. They advanced to the CAA title game, but fell to James Madison.
While Towson graduated Ambar Hickman, a first-team All-CAA honoree, the team returns plenty of talent.
Senior Holiday Cahill and junior Brooke Miko garnered first-team All-CAA honors, while junior Shelby Stracher picked up second-team honors.
The team also has sophomores Nicole Stockinger and Bailey Boyd, who were named CAA Rookie of the Week last year at least once.
The team will start the season playing heavily in the South, competing in tournaments at North Carolina, South Carolina and Florida.
The Tigers have their home opener on March 10th against Morgan State. They follow that up with six straight games at home before another extended road trip.
The Tigers have a conference heavy schedule after that before the CAA tournament takes place from May 9th through May 12th.
This year, Towson will look to accomplish what it couldn’t do last year. Win the Championship.
Towson will look to build upon its fall season when the team tees off in the Gary Freeman BCU Invitational in Daytona Beach, Florida, on March 2.
The Tigers will have three student athletes who will also end their careers this season — seniors Jimmy Grem, John Hulede and Juan Veloza.
Grem has been an impact player for Towson his whole career and will look to continue his success into the spring season. In the fall, Grem posted eight under par rounds and placed among the top-10 in six of seven events.
The team will look forward to hosting the Towson Spring Invitational on March 25. It is the team’s only home tournament this season.
Following the Towson Spring Invitational, the Tigers travel to the Manor Intercollegiate and The Rutherford before competing in the conference championships to conclude their season.
Following their opening match, the Tigers compete in the Citrus Challenge, the Kingsmill Intercollegiate and the Hoya Classic. After the Hoya Classic, the Tigers will compete in the CAA Championships April 14-16.
Towson will look to build off of its fall season. The team finished first in the Towson Tignanelli Invitational and second in the Chesapeake Bay Invitational.
The Tigers are a young team anchored by one senior, Stephanie Bosdosh. In the Towson Tignanelli Invitational, she led the team to a first-place finish with six birdies.
The Tigers also have two juniors with leadership experience, Alexis Hios and Mackenzie Rice. In the fall of 2015, Hios played in five of six tournaments and shot a 79.6 average while Rice averaged 79.5 in eight rounds of golf.
Towson has four underclassmen golfers that will look to lead the team to success this season. Those golfers are freshmen Erica Han and Josephine Jung and sophomores Alix Lowe and Jenny Buchanan.
Only time will tell if the young Towson team is up for the challenge of a new season.
The Tigers enter the 2017 spring season with a new, yet familiar, face at the head coaching position.
Interim Head Coach Jamie Peterson, an alumnus of the former Towson men’s tennis program and a part-time assistant coach for the women’s team during the previous two seasons, looks forward to the opportunity to expand the program.
As an assistant, Peterson got to know the team and learn what each player’s tennis games and personalities are like. He also learned how each player deals with adversity and how to help them motivate themselves, and each other up during matches.
Moving to a full-time head coaching position was a big transition for Peterson. On top of going to practices and matches and helping with coaching, strategies and drills, his additional responsibilities now include scheduling and other administrative duties.
Another new addition to the team was Claire Bedi, a sophomore who transferred to Towson in the fall after a year at Campbell University in Buies Creek, North Carolina.
Bedi, a medical redshirt this spring after undergoing bunion surgery, will regain her year of eligibility after this season.
The team also made some changes to its training program during the offseason. These changes include doing yoga for focus and flexibility, working with a sports psychologist and improving nutrition.
Peterson was impressed with the team’s performance in the invitational tournaments during the fall, which included earning three wins in the Tiger Classic at home in September.
Later this spring, Towson will look to improve on its quarterfinal loss to James Madison in the CAA conference championship last April.
“We want to step on the court more confident and fit, and if [James Madison] beats us, so be it,” Peterson said. “But we’ve got to give ourselves the best chance to give them the best challenge we can.”
Track & Field
The Tigers will transition from indoor to outdoor track and field March 1 at the 49er Classic hosted by the UNC Charlotte. This will be one of the Tigers’ 10 regular season meets for the outdoor season.
Following the 49er Classic, Towson will be back in North Carolina to compete in the Raleigh Relays. The team will travel to two more meets in the South, the Victor Lopez Classic in Houston and the Pepsi Florida Relays in Gainesville, Florida.
Towson will host the Towson Invitational April 15 at Johnny Unitas Stadium. The start time for the meet is still TBD. Last season, the team finished first out of nine teams in its lone home event.
The Tigers will compete in the CAA Championships May 5-6 in Newark, Delaware. Last year, the Tigers placed fifth, something that the team will look to improve on this season in Mike Jackson’s second year in charge of the program.
The 2017 Spring Sports Preview was compiled by: Desmond Boyle, Jordan Cope, Jill Gattens, Wynne Kirchner, Karuga Koinange and Billy Owens.