While the men's college lacrosse season officially began last weekend with a pair of games, many teams are debuting this weekend. So don't expect a well-oiled No. 15 Johns Hopkins against No. 13 Ohio State at Homewood Field on Sunday.
“We’re a work in progress,” coach Dave Pietramala acknowledged. “Needless to say, it’s early lacrosse, and there are going to be mistakes made and there are going to be miscues. That’s to be expected. More games are lost than won in sports, and one of the keys, especially at this time of the year, is to not lose those games, and what I mean by that is to try to limit mistakes that are somewhat natural at this time of the year. The stick skills are not as quite as sharp as they’re going to be in late March and mid-April and early May. Team chemistry is still developing. Unless you return a very veteran group or a bunch of starters, you’re developing chemistry and making sure you know where all the pieces of the puzzle go. Defensively, you’re trying to get your rotations down and you’re trying to create a group mentality where they’re all on the same page and where if one is moving, they’re all moving. And the same holds true offensively. And that takes time.”
The Blue Jays’ transition from preseason scrimmages to regular-season games may be impeded by the Buckeyes, a team that returns eight of 10 starters who helped capture the Eastern College Athletic Conference tournament and advance to the quarterfinals of the NCAA tournament last season.
Johns Hopkins and Ohio State are meeting for the first time since 2004, but will play annually as future members of the Big Ten Conference, which begins lacrosse next season. The two teams have met in a scrimmage, but Pietramala said he pursued a regular-season game after the Blue Jays were left out of the NCAA tournament last May but before the university’s announcement that it would join the Big Ten.
“It’s important to get to know your opponents,” Pietramala said. “There are going to be new rivalries, and one of the interesting parts about this game is preparing for a team that we have no recent history with, in terms of playing games. We’re not prepared for them, we don’t know them well, and vice versa. So it’s certainly made for interesting preparation, and, I think, what better way to start the year than with a team that we’ll be developing a rivalry with and we’ll be playing in the Big Ten?”