Johns Hopkins is one of seven top-20 teams in the latest Inside Lacrosse poll with 4-0 records, but arguably has overcome the toughest minefield. The No. 3 Blue Jays defeated a Navy squad ranked No. 11 at the time, a Loyola Maryland team previously ranked No. 9 and reigning national champion North Carolina ranked No. 3.
But if outside observers are already labeling Johns Hopkins as a lock for championship weekend in May, coach Dave Pietramala pumped the brakes on that.
“I temper my enthusiasm, and I do so because it’s March, and I find myself looking and saying, ‘Gosh, we’re 4-0. We’ve played four games, and today is just March 1,’” he said Wednesday morning. “So I look at that and say we need to be careful as we move forward not to overdo things physically, and I also temper it and say we can’t overdo things emotionally. While our staff is pleased that we think we showed some toughness going on the road and earning a win, it is March, and we’re working out some kinks still, and other teams are working out some kinks. So we’re pleased to get a win against a good team and a quality team, but we still made some mistakes that we need to correct and it’s still March. So we have a lot of work to do.”
As expected, the coaches broke down film of the team’s next opponent, Princeton on Friday, on the bus ride from Chapel Hill, N.C., while the players enjoyed the aftermath. But on Sunday, it was back to business, Pietramala said.
“We’re not rewarded anything in February,” he said. “So what we need to do – and we told this to the team – is not focus just on winning, but we’ve got to focus on getting better.”
Despite the convincing nature of Saturday’s 13-5 shellacking of the Tar Heels (3-1), Pietramala pointed out that the team won less than 50 percent of its faceoffs for the fourth consecutive game, the offense missed a few scoring chances and the defense was bailed out by Gerald Logan’s 16 saves, which earned the goalkeeper Big Ten Specialist of the Week honors.
But Pietramala acknowledged that the bigger picture was more positive than negative.
“We did improve from our last game,” he said. “Now the key is to look at that film, which we’ve done, and say, ‘OK, what can we do better and what do we have to do better moving forward?’ We need to continue to improve, and that’s what this is about right now. It’s March. We need to keep getting better.”