Each week, The Baltimore Sun will publish a Q&A with a college lacrosse player or coach to get you better acquainted with the player and his or her team. Today's subject is Johns Hopkins senior defenseman Jack Reilly, a four-year starter who is part of a defense that's tied with Bucknell for 13th in Division I in average goals allowed (7.8).
How do you feel about where the team is at right now with a 4-0 record?
We feel great. Obviously, we have a very tough schedule this year, having played Ohio State and Princeton and playing Syracuse and Maryland coming up. We're happy with what we're doing. Obviously, we can always improve with things. You can come away from a game and even though you might have had success, there are always things you can improve on. But as a team right now we're 4-0, and so we're pretty happy.
With the graduation of three defensive starters in defensemen Tucker Durkin and Chris Lightner, and goalkeeper Pierce Bassett, do you feel pressure to lead the unit?
With Tucker Durkin, Chris Lightner and Pierce Bassett, I had the honor to play with those guys for three years. Tucker Durkin being the two-time [William C.] Schmeisser Defenseman of the Year, I had a great opportunity to learn a lot from him. With all of those guys gone this year, I'm just taking everything I've learned from playing with them. Tucker was the guy on defense that everyone was listening to and everyone relied on. As far as this year, everyone has fit their role and everyone has to do their job. At times, it's tough when you don't have the Defenseman of the Year playing with you, but at the same time, we're working together and playing well defensively.
How have you adjusted to shadowing opponents' best attackmen — a role previously occupied by Durkin?
The philosophy that we use here at Hopkins is the next guy up. If one guy goes down, it's expected that the guy right behind him will come and fill the spot. Obviously, Tucker is the best defenseman and a lot of people are relying on me to kind of come in and fill his shoes. But the biggest focus I have with this defense is everybody being on the same page and everybody working together as one team. It's nice that I've worked hard and I've been granted the ability to go cover the best attackman or the best player on the opposing offense. But at the same time, I know it's a team defense and working together is my main focus.
How did you get the No. 43 jersey, which has been worn by standout defensemen Dave Pietramala, John Gagliardi and Chris Watson?
Traditionally, it's been a defenseman's number, and Tucker Durkin had the No. 51 as a freshman. It works through the ranks — seniors through freshmen — on who would like to change jerseys, and when the freshman list came out, 43 was on it, and I selected it at that time.
Couldn't you have picked a number that didn't carry as much tradition and expectation as No. 43 did?
It wasn't necessarily so much pressure. I knew the responsibility that was behind it. I knew what I was getting myself into. I knew that 43 has been a very historical number, and I do feel blessed and honored to be wearing that number. I just try to go out there ever since my freshman year and especially now as a senior and play as one team. The fact that I get to wear that number out there and — knock on wood — start for four years, it's a tremendous honor, and I'm extremely happy that I have it."