Postscript from Johns Hopkins vs. North Carolina
For the second time in as many weekends, Lee Coppersmith helped propel John Hopkins to a nerve-wracking win against an elite opponent. And for the second time in as many weekends, the sophomore midfielder dodged the question of whether he deserved playing time with the first line.
“I can’t say that,” Coppersmith said after his goal with 1:52 remaining in the fourth quarter lifted the No. 6 Blue Jays to a 10-9 decision against No. 5 North Carolina at the Konica Minolta Big City Classic at The New Meadowlands Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., on Sunday. “All I can say is I’m going to work as hard as I can to do what I can do and be the best that I can be. I can only control what I can control and let the chips fall where they may.”
There was some speculation that Coppersmith might start against the Tar Heels after sophomore midfielder John Greeley absorbed a hard hit and missed part of the second quarter and all of the second half of the team’s 12-11 win against then-No. 2 Virginia last Saturday.
But Greeley got the nod, and Coppersmith, who scored his first career hat trick against the Cavaliers, ran on the second line.
While coach Dave Pietramala said Coppersmith’s showings haven’t altered his stance on the team’s first midfield, he said he was happy for Coppersmith, who has just as many goals (seven) as Greeley does this season.
“It’s just thrilling to see a kid kind of come of age right in front of your eyes,” Pietramala said. “He gets three against Virginia and now he gets the game-winning goal. That’s a guy who has all the ability in the world, but just hasn’t put it all together. It’s really been a lot of fun for all of us to watch.”
Coppersmith, who scored two goals last season, said his development is ongoing.
“I definitely feel like I’m growing, but I’ve got to continue to work hard in practice,” he said. “That’s where it starts and ends. Saturdays and Sundays are what determine losses, but practice is where you’ve got to impress the coaches the most.”
*A defensive assignment nearly cost Johns Hopkins on Sunday. Initially, freshman defenseman Jack Reilly got the plum assignment of shadowing Tar Heels senior attackman Billy Bitter. Not a terrible idea considering that Reilly had fared well against Syracuse sophomore atttackman JoJo Marasco (one assist) and Virginia senior midfielder Shamel Bratton (two goals but none against Reilly). But Bitter scored three straight goals in the first quarter against Reilly, and Pietramala replaced Reilly with sophomore defenseman Tucker Durkin. Bitter scored just once in the second half. “I made a mistake with the matchups,” Pietramala acknowledged. “I thought we had the right matchups. We adjusted them midway through the first quarter and did a much better job there.
*Senior Matt Dolente registered a career high with 16 faceoff wins out of 22 attempts. But his career day almost didn’t unfold. Pietramala said the coaches considered starting the game with three long poles on faceoffs against North Carolina freshman R.G. Keenan and seeing how that facet of the game developed from there. “We thought we might be able to send them a message and make it a very physical game, that we might be able to go after Keenan,” Pietramala said. “When we brought that to Matt’s attention, if looks could kill … So we felt like we needed to provide our senior captain with an opportunity.” Dolente, who entered the game ranked second in the country with a 68.1 faceoff percentage (81-of-119), improved to 68.8 percent (97-of-141). “It’s just the hard work he puts in and the preparation,” Pietramala said of Dolente. “I don’t think it’s lucky that he’s having a very good year. I think he’s put a lot of time and effort and energy into it and takes a lot of pride in it.”
*After the game, Pietramala revealed that a case of stomach flu had infected several players. Sophomore goalkeeper Pierce Bassett made seven saves despite not practicing for three days, sophomore midfielder John Ranagan missed some practice time, and junior midfielder Marshall Burkhart and senior long-stick midfielder Orry Michael were sick at halftime. “I’m really proud that the guys battled back physically and mentally,” Pietramala said. “I think it says a lot for them.”
*The win helped the Blue Jays snap a four-game losing skid to North Carolina. It was Johns Hopkins’ first victory in the series since 2006.