No. 2 Johns Hopkins has won all eight meetings in this series and is coming off a 12-6 victory over Towson in its season opener Friday evening. Meanwhile, No. 18 Delaware (2-1) dropped its first game of the season, falling, 13-8, to previously unranked Loyola Saturday. Here are a few factors that could influence the outcome.
1) Blue Jays’ offense without Chris Boland. How the attack makes up for the expected absence of senior attackman Chris Boland (shoulder) will be huge for Johns Hopkins. Boland paced the team with four goals in the win against the Tigers, but junior Zach Palmer led all players with six points (three goals and three assists). But the pressure isn’t solely on Palmer, coach Dave Pietramala insisted. “There are returning veterans like [junior midfielder John] Ranagan and [junior midfielder John] Greeley and [junior midfielder Lee] Coppersmith and [senior attackman Mark] Goodrich. [Sophomore attackman Brandon] Benn’s a guy that got some time last year and has played a little bit. [Sophomore midfielder Rob] Guida’s a returner. So it’s not like you’re looking at a team and saying, ‘Wow, they’re really young, and if somebody is out and that somebody happens to be a veteran, oh boy, there’s a lot of young guys on the field now and there’s not a lot of veteran leadership.’ The one thing we can’t claim is that we don’t have experience. We do have experience. We’ve experienced John Greeley being out and the next guy was Lee Coppersmith, and Lee really stepped to the plate. So those are the things that you hope we’ve prepared for.”
2) Blue Jays’ ineffectiveness on faceoffs. Johns Hopkins prevailed over Towson despite winning just 3-of-14 faceoffs through the first three quarters. The team finished 9-of-21on draws, but that won’t cut it against Blue Hens senior Dan Cooney, who is succeeding on 59.7 percent (40-of-67) on faceoffs thus far. Pietramala is hopeful that the return of junior Mike Poppleton will provide the unit with a lift. “Anytime you have another option, it’s a positive,” Pietramala said. “… Obviously, Mike is the most veteran guy we have there. He’s taken more draws than John [Ranagan] has, obviously he’s taken more than [freshman] Drew Kennedy has. So he gives us a veteran guy there who has played some games, has done it, and happens to be fairly talented at it. So we’re excited that he’s back and able to participate.”
3) Blue Hens’ Grant Kaleikau. Delaware’s 12.7 goals-per-game clip has been aided by the presence of the senior attackman, who leads the team in assists (9) and points (15) this season. Kaleikau could get a lot of attention from junior defenseman Tucker Durkin, but Pietramala said it would be a mistake to forget about Kaleikau’s teammates. “I don’t think they’re that one-dimensional,” Pietramala said. “I do think he’s very talented. But a year ago, [senior midfielder] Eric Smith was tied with him in points . So it’s not like they don’t have other people. If you say, ‘OK, we’re going to stop just that one guy,’ then you’ve got your hands full with a stable of middies that are pretty talented. … So I don’t think you can just put your focus on one guy. I just think they’re too dangerous in other areas.”