By: Matt Hamilton, Sports Editor
With three straight Colonial Athletic Association championship and NCAA tournament appearances, Towson’s resume speaks for itself. However, after exits in the first round of the NCAA tournament each year, the team has found its goal for this season.
“We’ve really laid down a strong foundation both in conference and getting to the NCAA tournament,” Head Coach Sonia LaMonica said. “We’ve established ourselves as pretty consistent, but we want to build on that. We’re really determined to build on the success that we’ve had to date and push to the next level and break through.”
LaMonica and her team were already on their way to Durham, North Carolina to scrimmage the Duke Blue Devils, who finished 2014 ranked No. 8, on Friday. She said playing strong opponents like Duke will help her team when it comes time for postseason play.
”It’s nice just to play someone aside from ourselves and see what we need to keep working on and what we feel good about and get a gage on things,” LaMonica said.
After what LaMonica said was a strong preseason, Towson will prepare to begin the season with a team mixed with veterans and promising underclassmen. Led by 2014 CAA Co-Player of the Year Andi Raymond, the team was picked as the preseason favorite to win the conference.
Raymond, who is in her fifth year of eligibility after sitting out the 2013 season with injury, scored 50 goals and added 26 assists last season to lead the team. She’s tallied 85 goals and 62 assists in her career with the Tigers, helping her earn First Team All-CAA honors in 2012 and 2014.
“Andi is operating at such a high level right now,” LaMonica said. “She’s certainly had an amazing career to date, but I think her best lacrosse is yet to come. Part of the reason is one, because of her level of hunger to see the team be successful … but also, she’s got probably the strongest supporting cast around her this year than she’s ever had before.”
That supporting cast includes sophomore attacker Gabby Cha, senior attacker Taylor Moore, senior midfielder Paige Duncan, junior attacker Alyssa Ferro, junior midfielder Breanna Hamm and sophomore midfielder Colby Unkle. Each tallied 10 points or more last season.
Raymond, Hamm and senior goalkeeper Kelsea Donnelly were named to the Preseason All-CAA team. Sophomore midfielder Michelle Gildea and senior defender Michelle Dufault received Preseason Honorable Mention.
However, this group will have the task of making up the production made by former midfielder Ashleigh Rohrback, who finished her senior season in 2014 with 72 points on 37 assists. She holds the school record for assists in a career with 91.
LaMonica said although the team lost Rohrback and other key contributors from last season, her team will adapt and create a “new identity.”
“I think while we lose key roles from last season due to graduation, I’m excited about what we’re building from that season,” LaMonica said. “With the players we have returning and the newcomers we have … I think our future is extremely bright. It’s not as much filling and replacing roles, but creating a new team for this season.”
Part of that new identity includes a group of eight freshmen, which LaMonica called “the most talented class [she has] recruited to Towson yet.”
Midfielder Kaitlyn Montalbano and attackers Erika Cavallo and Jenna Kerr all could see a share of minutes as freshmen.
Montalbano scored 88 goals for St. John the Baptist High School (New York) last year, Cavallo finished her career at Hillsborough High School (New Jersey) with 207 goals and Kerr won three state championships for Mariotts Ridge High School (Maryland).
“It’s exciting to have top talent coming in and making an impact right away,” LaMonica said. “It’s a sign of where our program is going and puts us in line for success. We want to be able to have young [players] come in and get game experience early. There’s no real substitute for it.”
Towson will be put to the test early, as it travels to UMBC, Monmouth and Georgetown for three straight road games to begin the season.
Then, it will return for two home games against Maryland and North Carolina.
The season begins Feb. 18 in Baltimore against UMBC.
The game is set to start at 4:30 p.m.
By: Tyler Beard, Staff Writer
The Tigers started last season hot and looked ready for NCAA Tournament, posting an 8-3 record in April. However, they dropped their last four games of the season, including an 11-10 overtime loss to the Drexel Dragons in the first round of the CAA Tournament.
But now it’s a new season for Towson and last year’s young team has now turned into a mature squad.
“It’s nice having around eight freshmen that played for us last year, with at least three of them being starters, now coming back as sophomores with that youthful experience,” Head Coach Shawn Nadelen said.
One of those sophomores is attacker Joe Seider, who made the CAA All-Rookie team last season. Seider finished the year with 23 goals, which led the team. Another sophomore is fellow attacker Ryan Drenner, who also made the CAA All-Rookie team. Drenner scored 12 goals last season and looks to get more playing time, since attacker Thomas DeNapoli has graduated.
“The production of Thomas [DeNapoli] and John [Fennessy] goes to those guys that were freshmen and sophomores last year that played, but maybe didn’t enough playing time or didn’t get as many reps as those two,” Nadelen said. “Those reps are now open for everybody.”
DeNapoli and Fennessy were both captains for last year’s squad. DeNapoli finished the year with 36 points, which led the team. Fennessy led the team with 15 caused turnovers and was selected in the 2014 MLL Supplemental Draft.
The former seniors won’t just be replaced by younger players, but also through veteran redshirt senior attacker Max Siskind, senior midfielder Greg Cuccinello and senior defenseman JoJo Ostrander. Siskind had 12 goals last season and was fifth on the team in shots. Cuccinello had 20 goals and also had nine assists. Ostrander caused nine turnovers and was named to the All-CAA team.
“We want to make a run into the NCAA Tournament and play Memorial Day weekend,” Siskind said. “That’s our goal because we feel like we have a good enough team to make it, but it’s just in our hands at this point. We’re excited to get this season started.”
Senior midfielder Justin Mabus is also going to have a big role on the team. Mabus had 17 assists in the 2014 season.
“Every year gives you more and more confidence,” Mabus said. “We’re going into this thing confident, not cocky, so I think we should be all right.”
Rounding out the team is senior goalie Tyler White, who had a .502 save percentage last year.
“We just have a good young class coming in this year, but the young kids last year are going to play a real important role for us,” White said. “Another whole year of college lacrosse helps. Every year of college lacrosse you have, you just keep getting better and better.”
Towson starts this season off against in-state rival No. 6 Johns Hopkins. Nadelen played at Hopkins and is still looking for his first win against his alma matwer.
“[Johns Hopkins is] a team we haven’t beaten in my time here at Towson and it would be a huge accomplishment [to win] for us as a program and I’m excited about that opportunity,” Nadelen said.
The season opener is on Feb.10 at the Johnny Unitas Stadium at 6 p.m.
By: Tyler Young, Staff Writer
There is an air of uncertainty and cautious optimism surrounding Schuerholz Park as Towson enters its 28th season under head coach Mike Gottlieb.
The team finished 2014 with an overall record of 22-25, 4-13 in the Colonial Athletic Association, putting them at the bottom of the conference. That team graduated nine seniors, including the season’s team leaders in saves, home runs, stolen bases, RBIs and doubles.
“Many of the guys we have starting right now have not played for us,” Gottlieb said. “We are going to play on an everyday basis and, for a lot of them, they haven’t done that before.”
Towson returns just three hitters from last year’s lineup. However, the key cog in the offense remains current senior Peter Bowles.
Bowles led regular starters with a .304 batting average and 55 hits last season, to go along with 10 doubles, three home runs and 35 RBIs. He will be making his second position switch in as many years. He was an outfielder in 2013 and a first baseman last year, earning second-team All-CAA honors each time. Shortstop will be his home in 2015, and he was already listed as an “honorable mention” in the preseason All-CAA team announced in January.
“[Bowles] is the most versatile kid I have ever had,” Gottlieb said. “There are a lot of things he can do on the field. We could ask him to be our catcher, and he would go behind the plate and receive the ball as well as anybody we have.”
The other two major contributors returning are sophomore Brady Policelli and senior Brendan Butler. Policelli appeared in 37 of the team’s 47 games in 2014 as a freshman, hitting .267 with seven doubles, four home runs and 17 RBIs. Butler took part in 45 games and hit .264 with eight doubles, a home run and 16 RBIs.
Sophomore Chris Henze, junior Spencer Sutton and senior Mike Draper round out the returning hitters.
On the mound, things seem to be more settled for the Tigers. They return 12 of the 15 men who made an appearance for them in 2014. Gottlieb said that their top three starters are set to be sophomore left-hander Bruce Zimmermann, sophomore right-hander Kevin Ross and junior right-hander Lee Lawler, in no particular order at this time.
Zimmermann led the squad in wins, strikeouts and innings pitched last season, sitting down 53 batters over 66.2 frames en route to five victories. Lawler was the runner-up in innings pitched with 51.2, but he will look to find more control, walking 32 hitters and throwing six wild pitches as a freshman. Ross made five starts and pitched to a 5.68 ERA over 31.2 innings in 2014.
“We have a lot of pitching depth,” Gottlieb said. “It may be the deepest we have had since I’ve been here. We think we have our three starters for the first weekend in California… And we even have four freshmen pitchers who I really like. It should be a strength for the team.”
In a preseason poll voted on by CAA head coaches, Towson was picked to finish last in the CAA. However, Gottlieb feels that they have the talent to play postseason baseball.
“I don’t really know what to expect from this team,” Gottlieb said. “But obviously, we want to get to the conference tournament and we believe that is a good goal for us.”
The Tigers begin their season with a trip to Los Angeles to take on the USC Trojans in a three-game series starting on Feb. 13. Their first home game is Feb. 25 at 2:30 p.m. against the UMBC Retrievers.
By: Payam Agha-Ghassem, Staff Writer
The 2014 season for Towson ended in a 4-0 loss to the James Madison Dukes in the Colonial Athletic Association Championship game. The Tigers are hoping to take the next step as they head into the 2015 season.
“This team shows a lot of promise athletically, so we all just need to get after it to help the whole,” senior infielder Hailey Balk said.
The Tigers finished the 2014 campaign with a record of 29-25 overall and 6-10 in the conference. They’re picked to finish fourth in the CAA in a preseason poll voted on by the conference’s head coaches.
“It actually motivates us,” senior pitcher Missy McCormick said.
The Tigers return 12 letterwinners, a group that includes just three seniors: Balk, McCormick and infielder Macie McGeehan.
“It’s definitely a huge responsibility for the seniors because we’ve been here the longest, so we’re trying to get our work in and try to carry the little ones simultaneously,” Balk said.
The rest of the team consists of seven freshmen and three transfer students.
“We got 10 new kids on the roster right now,” Head Coach Lisa Costello said. “That’s almost half of the team. We expect them to contribute right away.”
McCormick, who was named to the All-CAA second team after winning 17 games and posting a 2.78 earned run average last season, leads the pitching staff. McCormick also became the first pitcher in Towson softball history to throw a perfect game.
“[McCormick] has worked really hard to make everything better like her command and her approach,” Costello said. “She’s getting stronger.”
McCormick threw a career-high 179 innings last year and she’s expected to hit that mark again.
“I’ve been really working on my endurance because I know I’ll be throwing a lot of innings this season,” McCormick said. “I have been adding a lot more cardio to my workouts to improve my endurance and better myself incase I need to throw multiple times per day like in the CAA tournament last season.”
McCormick will also be a major factor in the offense’s success. Last season, she tied now-graduated Maureen Hepner with most homeruns on the team with 12 and led the team in runs batted in with 53, a single-season school record.
The loss of Hepner and the power she brought is a blow to the lineup, but Costello said she’s confident this group can make up for that loss.
“We got some kids that will be able to step in and hopefully fill her shoes,” Costello said.
Balk and junior outfielder Olivia Yarbrough, who was named to the All-CAA first team last season, led the team in batting averages, batting .366 and .322 respectively. To continue that success, the team has been putting in a ton of work in the cages.
“I’ve been swinging everyday and working on what needs to be worked on,” Balk said. “As a team we’ve collected roughly 600,000 swings since September.”
Although the Tigers haven’t had many opportunities to play outside, they’ll finally take the field on Feb. 6 for their season opener, a doubleheader against Campbell University and Presbyterian College. First pitch is set for 5 p.m.
The Tigers’ first home game will be a matchup against Morgan State on Feb. 25. It will also be the first game played at the newly renovated Tiger Softball stadium.
“We are all super excited about the changes being made to our facility,” Costello told TowsonTigers.com. “It’ll be a facility that’s extremely competitive with other schools in our conference. It’ll help us in every aspect of our program, especially recruiting. The enhancements being made will help our kids better prepare and be ready for the season.”
Conference play for the Tigers begins on March 21.
By: Kati Day, Staff Writer
Towson returns to the course this spring on March 22, traveling to Williamsburg, Virginia to compete in the Middleburg Bank Intercollegiate.
The Tigers are set to compete in four tournaments this season leading up to CAA Conference Championships in April. The team will host its second tournament of the season, The Whiting-Turner Invitational, at Prospect Bay in Grasonville, Maryland on March 28.
“I think we have a really good chance at our home tournament,” sophomore John Hulede said. “We’ll have some solid teams there this year. It’s a pretty good field.”
The team finished its fall season with a win at the Lehigh Invitational in October. The Tigers struggled to put scores together last season but found their footing at Lehigh by winning the team and individual titles. Hulede carded a two-day total of 148 (71-77) winning first-place at the tournament. The Tigers defeated the field by a 19 stroke margin with a two-day score of 602 (295-307).
“Our confidence level is higher with that win,” senior Sam Stewart said. “It was nice to finally get a trophy and know what it was like to be in the lead. It was also nice for some of the younger guys in the lineup to know what it’s like to be in the lead. I’m hoping we can bring that momentum and that feeling of being able to win a tournament and bring it onto the courses we know.”
The team has been hard at work this winter in their new indoor facility at the Towson Center. After years of fundraising, Head Coach Brian Yaniger was given the green light to open the University’s first indoor training center.
“I’ve been trying to get this done for the last 10 years. Finally, with the tremendous help of our athletic director, Tim Leonard, we got permission to build the facility,” Yaniger said. “From the time it was open, the players have been in there every day. They’re chipping, putting and using the flight scope technology, which tells players where flaws are in their swing and helps players improve.”
Cold weather conditions have previously hindered the team’s training abilities during the offseason. Yaniger said he hopes to put an end to the mid-season lull with the aid of the new training center.
“We’ve been getting in there a lot,” Stewart said. “And with the new technology, it has helped us keep our swings in shape. We’ve been keeping our swings consistent for when we can get outside, so once the weather heats up we’ll be getting out there and hopefully be ready to compete.”
The Tigers continue to keep their eyes on the CAA Conference Championships and prepare to compete against rivals like James Madison, William and Mary and the College of Charleston.
“Our goal is definitely just to develop more consistent games for everybody to take into conference,” Stewart said. “The course we play at conference requires concentration. We need to develop consistency so we can take it into the final day. That’s our ultimate goal for the season.”
By: Jordan Cope, Staff Writer
Although Towson will not transition from indoor to outdoor track until March 13 in Wilmington, North Carolina, junior pole vaulter Maggie Rampolla said the team believes it is poised to have another successful season.
“The team is looking good this year,” Rampolla said. “This is one of our closest teams since I’ve been here, and definitely one of the most hardworking and talented.”
In 2014, Towson began its season at Doug Shaw Stadium in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina in the Coastal Carolina Invitational.
The Tigers had many notable performances in the meet that included first place finishes from Elisabeth Tauber, Ashley Simmons and Katie Salke.
In the 3000-meter run, Tauber finished in first place with a time of 10:10, edging out Wake Forest’s Chandler Barton by 17.50 seconds. Simmons finished with a time of 17:30.18 in the 5,000-meter run. Salke beat Dickinson College’s Amanda Jimcosky in the high jump event.
After starting the season with a trio of first place finishes, Towson traveled to Richmond, Virginia, where the team saw only one first place performance where Rampolla beat Rider College’s Miranda Roberts in the pole vault event.
Exactly one week after the Ram Invitational, the Tigers bounced back with a total of 11 first-place finishes in the Towson Invitational, which was hosted at Johnny Unitas Stadium and marked the midway point of the season for the team.
In the second half of the year, the Tigers battled in meets at Liberty, Princeton, Bucknell and Colonial Athletic Association rival Delaware before beginning the two-day CAA Championships in Harrisonburg, Virginia.
In the CAA Championships, Towson finished in sixth place with a total of 87 points.
Collecting most of the Tigers points in the CAA Championships was sophomore Zanae Freeland, who came in second place in the 100-meter dash and junior Kaitlyn Davis who came in sixth in the 200-meter dash.
While the CAA Championships did not end the way Towson liked, the team concluded its 2014 season by participating in the Eastern College Athletic Conference Championship meet in Princeton, New Jersey.
In the ECAC Championship Tournament, the Tigers finished 54th in a pool of 57 teams with a total of three points.
“Most of the team has come back and maintained their competitive level or on track for continued improvement and hopefully a couple more ECAC qualifiers than last year,” Rampolla said.
Looking ahead to the 2015 season, the Tigers will be bringing back a total of 42 athletes and will be bringing in a total of 11 freshman.
Rampolla said the team will welcome key returners like junior sprinter and hurdler Kaitlyn Davis, junior heptathlete Ashleigh Stallings, senior mid-distance runner Emily Wenger, sophomore sprinter Zanae Freeland, junior sprinter Kelsey Fiddes, junior jumper Willie Austin, and sophomore pole vaulters Courtney Rose and Brynn Warrington, who Rampolla said “all have the potential to score points and place for the team.”