As expected, Johns Hopkins’ 12-10 loss to Syracuse on Saturday sparked some soul-searching on the part of the Blue Jays. It’s a natural consequence when a team drops its first game after opening the season with five consecutive wins.
But coach Dave Pietramala said he hopes that the setback hasn’t fundamentally impacted the players.
“The key is you treat your wins and losses the same and you learn from them,” he said on Thursday morning. “That’s a hard thing to do emotionally and mentally. We tend as human beings to be more motivated when we’ve lost and more comfortable when we’ve won. What we’ve tried to teach our guys here is on Monday – win or lose – we’re going to come back, we’re going to turn the page, and we’re going to do the exact same things we’ve always done. We’re going to look at the film, and if we’ve won, we’re still going to correct the mistakes that we made and we’re still going to look at the things we did well and move forward. If we’ve lost, we’re still going to correct the mistakes that we made, we’re going to look at the things we did well, and we’re going to turn the page and move forward. That’s exactly what we’ve done.”
One area that No. 10 Johns Hopkins has changed has been its effort in practice. After questioning the team’s execution prior to Saturday’s loss to the No. 9 Orange, Pietramala said the tempo and attitude have improved in preparation for Saturday’s contest at No. 8 Virginia (6-2).
“Hopefully, we’ve learned our lesson that practice does impact how you play, and the guys have done a really good job these past three days of practicing in the way we expect a Hopkins lacrosse team to practice,” he said. “We’ve walked off the field each day feeling as if we’ve put in a good day of work.”
Saturday’s game kicked off a brutal stretch for the Blue Jays. After the Cavaliers on Saturday, Johns Hopkins will face No. 7 North Carolina (6-2), No. 16 Albany (2-3) and No. 1 Maryland (7-0) in successive weeks.
It could be a defining portion of the schedule for a team that failed to qualify for the NCAA tournament last year for the first time since 1971. But Pietramala said he isn’t concerned with the slate of tough contests awaiting the Blue Jays.
“We can’t look back and say, ‘Oh, we lost to Syracuse. We have to win this next game,’” he said. “And we can’t look forward and say, ‘If this happens, this is what is after Virginia.’ I think that’s a mistake to look beyond and to look back. The only thing we can afford to look at is what is right in front of us, and that’s Virginia. We need to have enough respect for that team to not think about what comes after them and the what-ifs. We just need to focus on Virginia. That has been our focus.”