Postscript from Navy at Johns Hopkins
Johns Hopkins has traditionally been known for its stifling defense. But the offense is beginning to make some noise.
The Blue Jays (10-2) have reached double digits in goals in every game this season but two, and both of those turned out to be losses (to Princeton and Syracuse). Over the last six quarters and one overtime period, the offense has lit up No. 8 Maryland and Navy for 24 goals.
“I think we’ve done a good job being patient, and when we’re in a groove and distributing the ball and everyone’s getting touches, I think we’re clicking pretty well,” said senior attackman Chris Boland, who recorded two goals and two assists in Johns Hopkins’ 14-5 pasting of the Midshipmen at Homewood Field in Baltimore on Saturday night. “… That first half against Maryland [when the team trailed, 7-2, at halftime], we kind of weren’t doing the little things. We weren’t being disciplined, and we weren’t dodging hard to get to goal, drawing slides. I think we did a good job of that today for 60 minutes for probably the first time since Delaware. So we know we’re capable of it, and it was good to be able to put it together at this time.”
The Blue Jays’ usually conservative scheme appears to have been tweaked by offensive coordinator Bobby Benson, who has been trusting playmakers like Boland, sophomore attackman Zach Palmer and sophomore midfielder John Ranagan to be more creative and aggressive with the ball.
“I think we’re having a lot of fun playing this year,” Palmer acknowledged. “Not to say anything bad about our team last year, but this feels a lot more fun this year, and everyone’s kind of clicking well together and obviously playing well to this point. We’ve got to keep going with that.”
Still, coach Dave Pietramala wasn’t entirely pleased with the offensive output, noting that Navy outscored Johns Hopkins, 5-4, in the second half.
“The first two quarters were great,” he said. “We were unselfish. And we’re a young team, and we talked them right at the end that we have to show some more maturity. We can’t come out and say, ‘OK, I’m going to get my goals.’ We’ve just got to keep doing what we’re supposed to do. So we’ve still got some growing up to do, but I’m happy with the offense, and Bobby’s done a really great job with those guys.”
*The Blue Jays are in the midst of a five-game winning streak, and each positive outcome has had a similarly positive effect on the players, according to Boland. “I think we’re really confident as a group,” he said. “That certainly helps with a young team. I’ve said this all year that when you have confidence in such a young team, it’s going to help. And as long as we’re getting better every week, that’s all you can ask for. So it’s a positive step each week.”
*The Midshipmen’s frustrating season reached new lows. The five-game losing skid is the longest streak to end a campaign in school history. Navy finished the year with the most losses in a single season under coach Richie Meade since he took over the program prior to the 1995 campaign. “It’s very disappointing,” he said. “The whole thing is, I feel like we’re a better team than the record shows. This game notwithstanding, I thought Hopkins played great. We’ve been watching all of their film, and that’s the best I’ve seen them play offensively except for the [first] half against Maryland. But we couldn’t do anything at the faceoff X, and I thought that was key.”
*The plight of the Midshipmen might entice some to wonder if the program needs a change in leadership. Don’t count Pietramala as one of those with that question. “I have a tremendous amount of respect for him,” Pietramala said of Meade. “I think he’s an outstanding coach. I don’t think you’re going to find a guy better suited for the United States Naval Academy. I consider him a friend. It’s my pleasure to have played against him and to now be on the sideline with a guy like him, it makes me want to stay in this profession when I see guys like that on the sideline.”