Navy at Johns Hopkins: Three things to watch
A victory Saturday for either the No. 11 Midshipmen or the No. 10 Blue Jays could go a long way in polishing their resumes for a NCAA tournament bid. Here are a few developments that could determine the outcome.
1) Johns Hopkins boasts a 20-goal scorer in Kyle Wharton, but the team has gotten production from attackmen Chris Boland and Steven Boyle and midfielder Michael Kimmel and Brian Christopher – all of whom have scored at least 13 goals this season. So which player of the five gets the short stick? That’s the dilemma for Navy coach Richie Meade. "For four years, I would sit around and go, ‘Man, I wish they didn’t have [Kyle] Harrison,’ or ‘Man, I wish they didn’t have [Paul] Rabil,’" he said. "The more film you watch this season, they’re really sharing the ball very well and they can shoot it. If you make any defensive mistakes, they take advantage because they’re very smart. … This is the best offensive team we’re going to play against."
2) Blue Jays coach Dave Pietramala said he expects Tim Paul, the Midshipmen’s leading scorer, to return for this game after missing last Saturday’s win against Army with a sprained left ankle. But one of his biggest concerns is containing Navy’s transition. In the last three games, short-stick defensive midfielders Geoff Leone and Bobby Lennon have combined for four goals, three assists, 11 groundballs and six caused turnovers, and long-stick midfielder Zack Schroeder has scored a goal and collected four groundballs and three forced turnovers. "They generate a lot of offense converting from defense to offense," Pietramala said. "They do a great job. They know they’ve got a really good defensive midfield that can create transition, and that’s one of the key focuses of this game."
3) The elephant in the room is the 35-game winning streak Johns Hopkins owns against the Midshipmen. But both Meade and Pietramala agreed that all the numbers can be thrown out the window when the teams take the field. "We haven’t beaten Johns Hopkins for a lot of reasons, and a lot of it is because they’re Johns Hopkins," Meade said. "… We’re going to have to do everything we possibly can and nothing that has happened before is going to help us play against Johns Hopkins. We’re going to have to play very, very well." Added Pietramala: "We have to go out and they have to go out, and you have to go out and earn a victory every year. … This is a new year. What happened last year doesn’t matter. What we can do is we can learn from the mistakes that we made last year and learn from the things that we were successful at doing last year, but that’s it."