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Johns Hopkins at Virginia: Three things to watch

Johns Hopkins boasts a 56-29-1 record against Virginia, which won the regular-season meeting, 11-10, in overtime on March 22. These programs will meet in the NCAA tournament for the 15th time, which is the most among any two teams in the postseason. The Blue Jays are 8-6 against the Cavaliers in the NCAA tournament.

Johns Hopkins (10-4) saw a five-game winning streak end in Saturday’s 13-10 loss to Loyola in the regular-season finale for both teams. The Blue Jays are 2-4 against teams that qualified for the NCAA tournament. Junior attackman Wells Stanwick’s 57 points are the most by a Johns Hopkins player since Kyle Barrie finished with 57 in 2003.

Eighth-seeded Virginia (10-5) placed sixth in the Atlantic Coast Conference, but scored a 13-11 win against North Carolina on April 26 that earned the team the right to play host in the first round. The Cavaliers are 5-5 against teams in the NCAA tournament. Junior midfielder Ryan Tucker (Gilman) ranks third on the team in goals with 23, but leads Virginia in shooting percentage at 45.1 percent.

Here are a few factors that could play a role in the outcome at Klockner Stadium in Charlottesvile, Va., on Sunday at 1 p.m.

1) Virginia’s attack. The Cavaliers have been powered by their starting attack of senior Mark Cockerton (45 goals and 15 assists), sophomore James Pannell (39, 7) and junior Owen Van Arsdale (10, 25). But that unit combined for just four goals and one assist against Johns Hopkins in their regular-season meeting, and Van Arsdale was shut out. Still, trying to replicate that feat is not going to be easy, Blue Jays coach Dave Pietramala said.

“It’s no secret that those are the three guys that have the majority of their points,” he said. “… We’ve still got to do a better job with the attack, and we need to figure out how to defend and guard them a little bit better in the midfield. They are very athletic, they’re starting to do a couple different things later in the year. … We’ll be challenged by this offense. It’ll be important for us to have a very good defensively and a better day than we had against Loyola.”

2) Virginia’s Matt Barrett. Barrett became the seventh freshman in program history to open the season as the starting goalkeeper, and the rookie has held onto that distinction through 2014. The 6-foot, 220-pound Barrett made quite an impression with Johns Hopkins when he matched a career high with 16 saves in that regular-season meeting, and Pietramala said he has been impressed with Barrett’s continued improvement.

“He’s certainly been better in the latter stages of the year,” Pietramala said. “We’ve got to do a good job of shooting the ball to better spots than we did the last time. He had 16 saves, so our impression of him from the last time is, he had a very good game, and we’ll need to shoot the ball more intelligently and a little bit better.”

3) Johns Hopkins’ Wells Stanwick. The offense has relied on sophomore attackman Ryan Brown (38 goals) and senior attackman Brandon Benn (35) to light the lamp, and sophomore Holden Cattoni (25 goals and six assists) and senior Rob Guida (13, 14) have provided support from the midfield. But ESPN analyst Mark Dixon pointed out that the Blue Jays are 1-4 in games where Stanwick, the junior who leads the team in both assists (40) and points (57), has three points or less.  

“Hopkins has to stick with what has made them successful, and that’s Wells Stanwick generating from behind, the two-man game, guys working off of screens, and guys getting their hands free for good shots,” said Dixon, a former Johns Hopkins midfielder. “Hopkins is a team that has to stay true to who they are, and that’s a ball-control offense. You’re not going to change your identity in a week, and you’re not going to change thew way you play during the course of the game – unless you make some real adjustments. The key to Hopkins’ offense is Wells.”

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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