No decision yet regarding Johns Hopkins goalie
The better part of this past week has been spent evaluating the goalie position, and No. 12 Johns Hopkins (4-4) is prepared to name the starter for Saturday’s home contest against No. 3 North Carolina (9-0).
Blue Jays coach Dave Pietramala said he won’t make that decision until practice later on Friday and therefore, he declined to disclose the starter’s identity during an interview Friday morning. Whatever the decision, Pietramala said the difficulty is not making a change if it gives the team the best chance to snap a three-game losing skid.
"The hard part is that it affects a kid – one way or the other," he said. "You’ve got a kid who’s been practicing hard who may not have played a lot yet but has seen some action and he’s going, ‘Wow, I hope I get an opportunity.’ And then you have another young man who’s been your goalie and you say, ‘He’s been our goalie, and we’ve been loyal to him. Do we make that change?" That’s the hard part about these decisions as coaches. To the coaches, it’s not important who plays. You want to put the best guy in there. But the struggles at times is that your decision affects a young man, and that’s something you’ve got to take into consideration."
Senior Michael Gvozden has been the team’s three-year starter in the net, and he is 25-15 over the last three seasons. But he was pulled in favor of sophomore Steven Burke just eight minutes into an eventual 14-6 loss to No. 10 Hofstra on March 13, and freshman Pierce Bassett replaced Gvozden midway through the third quarter of a 15-6 setback to No. 1 Virginia last Saturday.
Pietramala compared the situation to his sophomore year in 1987 when Stuart Jones, a senior, began the season as the starter, but was replaced by freshman Quint Kessenich, who helped Johns Hopkins capture the national championship.
"It’s more comfortable when you’ve got an experienced guy," Pietramala said. "You know he’s seen this team, you know he’s played in big games, and you know he’s capable of playing well in big games. But then you’ve got a young guy like a Bassett or a Burke or a [sophomore Guy] Van Syckle, and you think, ‘Man, we’ve watched this guy in practice every day and boy, he’s doggone good.’ That’s where you ask, ‘Do we make that change?’ That’s the difficulty of it, and I think the most important thing you can do is you have to weigh what’s best for the team. How does this affect the team? How do they react to this? Do they react positively or negatively to it? Is this going to give us our best chance? The difficulty is that there is some unknown there if you do make a change. For us, we’ve seen Bassett and Burke in games. So it’s not like it’s a complete unknown commodity."
Pietramala has read and heard the reports about the possible absences of Tar Heels junior attackman Billy Bitter (leg) and senior midfielder Sean DeLaney (shoulder), but he said he fully expects North Carolina’s two most dangerous offensive players to play Saturday.
"We’ve put a game plan in with both of those players in the game, and if they’re not there by some chance, then we’ll make the necessary adjustments," Pietramala said. "But in the end, you still have to defend [sophomore attackman Thomas] Wood and [freshman attackman Marcus] Holman and [senior attackman Gavin] Petracca and [senior midfielder Jimmy] Dunster. There are still quality players in that offensive end. Even without those two players, I don’t know that their whole offense is going to change. Maybe specific roles in that offense will change, but they’re still going to run what they run, and we’ve prepared for both guys."