All season, Johns Hopkins has harped on the belief that one win or loss does not define a season.
But with Saturday's 11-6 victory over No. 5 Maryland before an announced 9,553 at Homewood Field, the No. 9 Blue Jays took a sizable step toward cementing a berth in the NCAA tournament.
Nothing is set in stone. After all, Johns Hopkins had wins against the Terps and Virginia last season, but that still wasn't enough for the program to extend its streak of NCAA tournament appearances to 42.
So even though the Blue Jays improved to 7-3 and now have victories over Maryland, No. 18 Princeton and No. 19 Albany, they know that their postseason fate is far from guaranteed.
"I don't take comfort in anything," coach Dave Pietramala said after the game. "I'll be comfortable when the regular season is over and if we're where we think we should be. I don't get comfortable. I'm not comfortable. I want to just worry about the next game and go do our jobs. When the job is done and if we've done our jobs, I'll feel comfortable."
But taking a 2-0 advantage and never ceding that lead against the Terps in the 111th installment of their intrastate rivalry was a satisfying moment for Johns Hopkins, which is now 70-40-1 in the series.
"It's the rivalry," senior defenseman Jack Reilly said. "We knew that this game wasn't going to be a slap-hands kind of game. It was going to be a hard-fought game. It was getting pretty chippy in the beginning on both sides, and we needed to step up and handle our business, and that's what we did."
The Blue Jays defense set the tone for the game. The unit held Maryland to more than six goals below its season average of 12.8, gave up just two goals on six-on-six situations, and got a game-high 12-save performance from senior goalkeeper Eric Schneider.
The defense was especially suffocating against the Terps' biggest scoring threats. Senior midfielder Mike Chanenchuk recorded three assists but did not add to his team-leading 25 goals, because of the play of junior defenseman Robert Enright. Freshman attackman Matt Rambo, who had scored 21 goals, was contained to a single assist by sophomore John Kelly (seven ground balls and three caused turnovers). And freshman attackman Connor Cannizzaro, who ranked third with 15 goals, was shut out by Reilly.
"We knew that Maryland had a lot of threats," said Reilly, who finished with two ground balls and one caused turnover. "It wasn't just specifically getting one guy down or going after one. It was a team effort today. … We knew we had to talk and communicate."
While the defense locked down on Maryland, the offense got three goals and one assist from junior attackman Wells Stanwick and two goals and two assists from sophomore midfielder Holden Cattoni.
Stanwick, the Baltimore native and Boys' Latin graduate who ranked fourth in Division I in average assists at 3.2, shed his usual persona and aggressively took the ball against Terps junior defenseman Goran Murray to the net in leading Johns Hopkins in goals for the first time this season.
"It's not really about me versus Goran," said Stanwick, who has 44 points on 14 goals and 30 assists. "It's the team versus Maryland, and I thought today, we really focused on getting into our sets and doing the things that we do well and kind of working together to get our goals."
The Blue Jays also relied on two goals each from senior attackman Brandon Benn, sophomore attackman Ryan Brown (Calvert Hall) and freshman midfielder John Crawley.
Besides Chanenchuk, the Terps were paced by two-goal showings by sophomore midfielder Henry West, junior midfielder Joe LoCascio and senior attackman Rustin Bryant (Hereford). Although Maryland (9-2) dropped its second game in four outings, it still can share the Atlantic Coast Conference regular-season title with No. 2 Duke with a victory over No. 10 Notre Dame on Saturday.
"We've got to lick our wounds right here and look at how we can get better," coach John Tillman said. "Obviously, the positive for us is, our conference is arguably the best conference in lacrosse, and if we win next week, we're basically co-champions of the Atlantic Coast Conference, and that's what we can control next."Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun