Ryan Brown, a Calvert Hall graduate, stayed close to home when he committed to play at Johns Hopkins. And now the sophomore has hit home with a return to his natural position.
After a freshman campaign in which he recorded 17 goals and four assists primarily as a midfielder, Brown is part of a starting attack that includes senior Brandon Benn and junior Wells Stanwick. It’s a move that delighted Brown when the coaches approached him in the offseason about making the switch.
“I feel like going back to attack is my natural position because I’ve been playing that since I was a little kid,” he said on Wednesday. “But I feel like midfield was a good fit coming into college because it allowed me to get my feet under my belt at the college level and to get used to the pace and the tempo. I feel more comfortable at attack though.”
The change has been especially good for the No. 2 Blue Jays (5-0), who have benefited from a team-high 15 goals from Brown who also ranks second in points (23). Brown, who has registered more assists in five contests than he did in 14 games last year, acknowledged some surprise over his effectiveness.
“I didn’t really know what to expect,” he said. “I just go out there and play as hard as I can and let the chips fall where they fall. Coach [Dave Pietramala] has mentioned how well the offense has been doing, and we’ve really been clicking well.”
Brown has posted 12 points in his last two contests, including a five-goal, three-assist outburst in a 15-9 victory over then-No. 6 Princeton on March 1. Brown said the significance of that performance didn’t dawn him until after the game.
“During the game, I wasn’t really thinking that,” he said. “I was kind of thinking about the next play. It wasn’t like I was thinking, ‘Wow, I’ve got five goals.’ I wasn’t worried about that. I was more focused on the next play.”
Brown has quickly struck a sense of cohesion with Benn and Stanwick (Boys’ Latin) and has especially thrived in the team’s new-look offense that emphasizes constant motion and differing angles from which to dodge.
That’s one reason why Pietramala said he thinks Brown would have developed whether he was in the midfield or on attack.
“[H]ad we been running this offense with him at midfield, I don’t think it would have mattered because the pieces are very interchangeable,” Pietramala said. “There are middies behind the goal, there are middies on the wing, there are attackmen on the wing and occasionally out top with all the movement. I would say that this offense is more conducive to the personnel than anything, and obviously Ryan is one of those people that it is more conducive to.”
As the offense’s quarterback, Stanwick draws much of opponents’ attention, but Brown usually gets their second-best defensemen. That could mean fewer eight-point outbursts like the one against Princeton, but that’s fine with Brown.
“It can be anyone at any time,” he said of an offensive standout. “It’s about who’s getting open shots. The way we attack, it takes six guys to score goals. If I score it, the other five guys did just as good of a job as I did. I was just the one that got the open shot."