Joe Carlini content playing short-stick defensive midfielder for Johns Hopkins men's lacrosse

Although he has 3 assists in past 2 games, Joe Carlini's value for Johns Hopkins men's lacrosse is defense.

Players change positions frequently, and one recent trend has been to shift short-stick defensive midfielders into offensive ones. But senior Joe Carlini is comfortable where he plays for Johns Hopkins.

“It would definitely be cool to do, but I personally don’t think that I have that skillset,” he said recently. “I couldn’t jump into our offense. We have really good offensive middies here, and I think my role is better suited on the defensive end. While it would be a lot of fun to play on the offensive side and score some goals, I like my role, and I’m just trying to do it to the best of my ability.”

That doesn’t mean that Carlini struggles on the offensive side of the field. He has registered three assists in his last two games including one helper in the No. 3 Blue Jays’ 13-5 thumping of No. 7 and reigning 2016 NCAA Division I champion North Carolina on Saturday.

Getting involved on offense is familiar for Carlini, who posted 26 goals and 100 assists as a two-way midfielder at Malvern Prep in Malvern, Pa. But when he arrived at Homewood Field, he switched entirely to defense.

“I’ve always loved playing D-middie,” he said. “It’s not one of the most glamorous positions, but I think it’s something that I really enjoy. Since I’ve gotten to Hopkins, I’ve really taken to it. In my freshman year, it was definitely a challenge coming from high school playing at this level, but this is something I take personally.”

Carlini said he picked up on the value of the short-stick defensive midfielder position by watching Phil Castronova and James Malm when they were seniors.

“I just looked at the way they played because they played really hard and they understood the game,” he recalled. “When I was a freshman, I knew that I could play as hard as I wanted to, but if I didn’t understand what I was seeing or how to play the game, I wouldn’t be able to perform to the best of my ability. So they helped me.”

Coach Dave Pietramala is appreciative of Carlini’s commitment to playing defense.

“What Joe realizes is, ‘Hey, I’m not one of the offensive guys, but I have a role, a significant role on this team,’” Pietramala said Wednesday. “Quite frankly, those defensive midfielders play more than anybody. So if I’m looking at it and measuring it by playing time, if I’m a player, I’m saying, ‘I don’t care where I play, just let me play. Get me on the field.’ Those are the guys you want as a coach, the ones that say, ‘I don’t care how I get on the field, I just want to do whatever it takes to help the team,’ and Joe has been very much like that.”

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