Johns Hopkins’ 12-4 record last season disguised a matter that troubles every coach but has few solutions: injuries.
Four starters missed extended time in 2012 because of a variety of ailments. Attackman Chris Boland – who has since graduated – sat out eight starts after breaking his collarbone in the team’s season-opening win against Towson, and then-junior midfielder John Greeley was sidelined for the final four contests after re-tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee.
Boland’s replacement, then-freshman Wells Stanwick was shelved for three contests after injuring his right hand, and then-sophomore short-stick defensive midfielder Phil Castronova missed the entire season after suffering a torn anterior cruciate ligament in the fall of 2011.
One might think that Dave Pietramala is snapping up every rabbit’s foot and horseshoe on the East Coast to ward off any future injuries, but the Blue Jays coach pointed out that injuries are a part of sports.
“Injuries are what they are. Everybody has them,” he said. “So I don’t want to say that they took a toll. We’ve taken the ‘next man up’ attitude, and defensively, when you lose a guy like Phil, you’re losing a very good player that impacts your team. But we don’t base what we do on one player – both offensively and defensively. Our hope is that we can overcome that and we did overcome that in the regular season. I just don’t think we performed very well at the end. But having those guys back has been wonderful. They add an enthusiasm. You’ve got two guys [in Greeley and Castronova] that haven’t been out there [in fall ball]. So they’re just thrilled to be out there. And hopefully, they’ve had a chance to watch and learn. … Having them back this year, while it’s wonderful, those things are a part of athletics and you deal with them. I’d rather not make excuses for us not getting the job done at the end of the year.”
Having graduated just two starters from last year’s squad, Johns Hopkins appears to be well-stocked for another run at the postseason. But if there’s anything that Pietramala has learned during his 13-year tenure, it’s that the coaching staff still must spend time developing younger players in the event that injuries wreak havoc again.
“I think you have to find time for those guys because injuries occur and guys don’t perform as well as you would like,” he said. “I think that’s one reason why you scrimmage. … I think we’ve got to make sure that we develop the depth there because no matter what we think – and I’ll knock on any wood that’s around me – injuries are a part of athletics, and it’s got to be the next man up, and we’ve got to prepare them for that.”