Time will tell if No. 13 Johns Hopkins’ 10-9 overtime win against top-ranked Loyola will prove to be a turning point for the Blue Jays.
But to help the team snap out of a 1-3 skid, coach Dave Pietramala and defensive coordinator Bill Dwan took the players on a little journey to the past.
“[O]ne of the things we did was, I asked Bill Dwan, who does a lot of our film study, if he would make a highlight film for the guys,” Pietramala said during his post-game conference. “I think it was Princeton, Syracuse and Virginia, and we just put it on in the locker room and let it run. And it was all good plays. It was all goals scored. When you feel snakebitten and you can’t buy a goal, it’s nice to sometimes look and say, ‘Oh geez, that’s me. I can still do that.’ We just wanted to remind our team that we’re a good team. I don’t think we’re great yet. I think we’re like a lot of other teams. Sometimes we can’t get out of our own way, but today, we had a lot of fight in us.”
Pietramala said Johns Hopkins (10-3) was struggling to deal with the public’s perception of the team’s identity. Which squad was the true representation: the one that opened the season with nine straight victories or the one that had dropped three games, including back-to-back setbacks to No. 8 Maryland and unranked Navy?
“When you’re Johns Hopkins and you beat Virginia, everybody tells you you’re going to win the national championship. When you’re Johns Hopkins and you lose two games, everybody tells you you’re doing everything wrong,” he said. “I guess coaxing isn’t the right word. It was just more helping them to recognize that we weren’t as good as people said we were and we’re not as bad as people say we are when we lose two in a row. For us, it’s mental, and it was just to remind them that we’re the same team that won nine games. We ran up and down with the No. 1 team in the country, and make no mistake, they’re the real deal. They’re good. They know how they want to play, they know who they want to do things with, they were good at the X today. … But it was more helping our guys to just remember that we’re the same dopey son of a guns that found a way to win nine games. We can’t just be that lucky to win nine games on our schedule.”
Saturday’s win probably assured the Blue Jays of a top-eight seed and a home contest in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. It also may have injected some adrenaline into the players.
“I definitely think it was huge,” junior defenseman Tucker Durkin said. “We’ve kind of been in a little funk the last couple games or so. It could’ve [gone] either way today. We talked about that. Loyola’s obviously a great team. We felt like this whole week, we kind of built up team morale, and it led to the win, which ultimately helped us the most. But this whole week, we were kind of building each other up and working hard, and the coaches were doing a good job of encouraging us and making sure that we stayed positive. The win, obviously, everyone’s very happy right now, and team morale is high. But I feel this whole week, it kind of built up to the game, and everyone was in good spirits.”