Postscript from Virginia at Johns Hopkins
After compiling the program’s first sub-.500 season since 1971 and starting eight sophomores and freshman this year, Johns Hopkins wasn’t expected to seriously challenge the rest of Division I for the national championship.
But after extending top-ranked Syracuse to overtime on March 19 and nipping No. 2 Virginia by a goal on Saturday, the No. 9 Blue Jays may have to set their aim a little higher.
Johns Hopkins (6-2) is still a young squad and prone to bouts of inconsistency and ineffectiveness. Just look at the 63-second span of the third quarter when the Blue Jays allowed the Cavaliers to score four consecutive goals to turn a 9-5 deficit into a 9-9 tie with 33 seconds left in the third quarter.
But the team bounced back, getting the game-winner from fifth-year senior attackman Chris Boland with 1:39 remaining.
Coach Dave Pietramala conceded that squandering the lead in the third quarter worried him.
“Doubt can start to creep in, and we’ve talked with this team about not having any doubt, believing in itself,” he said. “Like I said, I watched us grow up last week, and I watched us grow up in a losing effort. We played the game, and we played it to the best of our ability. Well, we turned around and did the same. To the guys’ credit, they never panicked. … The guys kept their composure.”
Aside from Boland’s three-goal, one-assist effort and senior midfielder Mark Goodrich’s lone goal, the remaining eight goals and four assists came from the sticks of freshmen and sophomores.
“We have a young team, and we expect that out of them,” Boland said. “… It’s good that these guys have confidence and to get a good win like this, but it’s back to another tough game and another good week of practice.”
Indeed, the schedule doesn’t get any easier with Johns Hopkins taking on No. 7 North Carolina at the Big City Classic at the New Meadowlands Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., on Sunday. The Tar Heels (7-2) blasted No. 6 Maryland (6-2), 11-6, on Saturday.
“Now to be honest with you, I told the team last week that how we handle the Syracuse win would define our team,” Pietramala said. “I think we handled it pretty well. I’ll reiterate that to them again. How we handle this one will continue to define our team.”
*Saturday was a coming-out party for Blue Jays sophomore midfielder Lee Coppersmith. Filling in for injured sophomore midfielder John Greeley, Coppersmith registered the first hat trick of his career. All three of his goals were timely. After Greeley was drilled by junior defenseman Matt Lovejoy on a shoulder check with 7:20 left in the second quarter, Virginia scored twice to trim a four-goal deficit in half. But Coppersmith answered, tickling the net with a left-handed drive at the 4:04 mark of the second quarter and then a right-handed blast at the 2:55 mark. And when the Cavaliers took their first lead of the contest on a goal by freshman midfielder Rob Emery with 9:17 left in the fourth quarter, Coppersmith tied the score with another right-handed laser with 6:43 remaining. “It definitely gives me a lot of confidence going forward because I haven’t had a game like this in my career,” Coppersmith said. “I hope I continue to contribute on this team.” Virginia coach Dom Starsia was impressed by Coppersmith. “I would tell you that the two right-handed shots he hit, those were big-boy shots at a big time,” Starsia said. “He shoots one left-handed, so we sort of needed to be reminded of who he was. You immediately force him to his right hand – and we do a nice job there, he hits the first one and the second one, we get to him, and I can hear our defense talking, we slide to him – and he still hits his shot. So he deserves a lot of credit for that.”
*Speaking of Greeley, he did not return after the check by Lovejoy. He was dressed in street clothes and standing on the sideline in the second half. Per his own policy, Pietramala did not address the nature of Greeley’s injury, but insisted that the midfielder should be available for Sunday’s contest against North Carolina. “He will be fine,” Pietramala said. “He’ll play.”
*Another player who had an eye-opening outing was freshman defenseman Jack Reilly. A week after limiting Syracuse sophomore attackman JoJo Marasco to a single assist, Reilly shut out Cavaliers senior midfielder Shamel Bratton, who put just four of his 11 shots on net. Bratton did score twice, but Reilly was not on him on both occasions. “I watched Jack Reilly grow up right in front of my eyes in the last two games,” Pietramala said. “We’ve asked him to cover two of the best players in the country, JoJo Marasco and now Shamel Bratton. I thought he did a wonderful job.”
*Saturday’s final score was the seventh consecutive time that a meeting between these two teams at Homewood Field had been decided by two goals or less and the fifth time over that same seven-game span that the margin was just one goal. But Virginia had routed the Blue Jays by scores of 19-8 and 15-6 in the previous two contests. Still, Starsia said the Johns Hopkins team he saw Saturday didn’t appear that much different from the previous squads. “I’ve always felt like they were pretty good,” he said. “So I wouldn’t be able to quantify that. I’ve always felt like they’ve got a lot of athletes, they can get up and down the field. I thought today, they played some in the unsettled game, and I’ve always felt that they had the personnel to do that. They’re a little bit more complete perhaps defensively. But I think the boy in the goal [sophomore Pierce Bassett] playing like that, he makes it look good. And that’s part of the team defense, the goalie playing like that. But I think all of those pieces had to fit together today for them, and that’s a good lacrosse team.”