If this season is any indication, the Johns Hopkins men's lacrosse team will enjoy its entry into the Big Ten Conference.
The No. 12 Blue Jays, who announced last June that the program would join the league for the 2015 season, easily took care of future conference foe Michigan, 14-5, before an announced 1,603 at Homewood Field on Saturday.
The win, coupled with a 10-9 triple-overtime decision over then-No. 13 Ohio State on Feb. 9, means the Blue Jays (3-0) are 2-0 this year against soon-to-be Big Ten rivals. The team can complete the regular-season sweep with a victory over No. 11 Maryland on April 12. (Unless they meet in the NCAA tournament, Johns Hopkins will not play No. 14 Penn State or Rutgers.)
Junior attackman Wells Stanwick (Boys' Latin) paced the offense with four points on one goal and three assists. Senior attackman Brandon Benn and senior midfielder Rob Guida recorded two goals and one assist each as the team outscored the Wolverines (2-2) 9-1 in the first half.
"One thing that we've been stressing all week is playing our positions," Guida said. "We feel like if we can get to the right spots and move the ball well, we'll have success. We did a good job of that, and guys finished their shots."
As well as the offense played, the defense was almost as suffocating. Senior goalkeeper Eric Schneider made a career-high 19 saves, and the four-man rotation on close defense of senior Jack Reilly, juniors Robert Enright and John Kelly, and freshman Nick Fields limited Michigan's starting attack to one goal on eight shots and zero assists.
The Wolverines' attack entered the game having scored 18 of the team's 41 goals.
"In the last two games, we haven't played against teams that have made us work this hard on offense," Michigan coach John Paul said.
"We still have to learn what it takes to execute against a defense like this, and that's a function of us being a young program and having young guys playing. This is important for us. It's important for us to learn these lessons right now."
The Blue Jays set the tone by outscoring Michigan 6-0 in the first quarter, including two transition goals.
The defense got the party started when freshman short-stick defensive midfielder Joe Carlini stripped Wolverines sophomore midfielder Mike Hernandez of the ball. That began a transition opportunity that ended with Stanwick finding junior long-stick midfielder Michael Pellegrino alone in the high slot for a shot that bounced past freshman goalie Robbie Zonino with 13:05 left in the first quarter.
Stanwick then took matters into his own hands with a one-on-one dodge against junior defenseman Mack Gembis. Moving from the left side of the cage, Stanwick got under Gembis and moved to the front of the crease for an easy goal with 9:44 remaining.
After Benn converted a feed from sophomore attackman Ryan Brown (Calvert Hall) to make the score 3-0, Johns Hopkins took advantage of a failed Wolverines clear. Schneider launched a pass to junior midfielder Bronson Kelly, who sprinted from the midline and down the right alley for a goal with 4:45 remaining.
The offense closed out the first quarter with goals by freshman midfielder John Crawley and Benn.
Despite the convincing win, Blue Jays coach Dave Pietramala did not hide his displeasure over a fourth quarter in which the team lost all four faceoffs, got outshot 17-3, and scooped up just four ground balls, to Michigan's 11.
"We didn't understand how to play with a lead," he said. "We didn't have the maturity to continue to do the things that had gotten us the lead. So I thought we did a great job for three quarters. We forced the shots we wanted, we got a lot of shots, a lot of good shots early. And in the fourth quarter, we didn't win a faceoff and we played defense the whole quarter. We didn't get a loose ball, and they generated a bunch of shots. So I'm really thrilled with three quarters of lacrosse and really disappointed with the fourth quarter of lacrosse."
Notes: Johns Hopkins won three consecutive games to open the season for the fifth straight year. … The Blue Jays are now 2-0 against Michigan, having won, 17-8, on Feb. 23, 2013. … Freshman midfielder Cody Radziewicz, sophomore faceoff specialist Craig Madarasz and junior long-stick midfielder Nikhon Schuler each scored their first goals of their Blue Jays careers.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun