The 108th meeting in a series that dates back to 1895 should be an intriguing affair. Both teams bounced back from disappointing losses from the previous week. No. 10 Maryland (6-3) walloped No. 20 Navy, 13-6, April 6 after dropping a 12-8 decision to No. 1 Virginia. No. 5 Johns Hopkins (9-1) thrashed Albany, 17-6, April 5 after getting shocked 13-9 by No. 4 North Carolina. The host Blue Jays have won 10 of the last 13 contests between these sides. Here are a few factors that could play a role in the outcome at Homewood Field in Baltimore Saturday evening.
1) Maryland’s patience vs. Johns Hopkins’ defense. A program long renowned for its defense, the Blue Jays are living up to that reputation this season, ranking fourth in Division I after surrendering just 6.6 goals per games. The Terps rank 14th in scoring (11.6 goals per game), but coach John Tillman knows they must be efficient on Saturday. “They do a very good job of trying to limit your shots to the shots they want to give up relative to their goalie,” he said. “They want certain shots taken because they feel like their goalie is good at saving those shots. So you have to be aggressive and you have to play fast. And yet you can’t rush yourself. It’s the old [UCLA men’s basketball coach] John Wooden [saying of], ‘Play fast, but don’t take chances.’ So we’ve got to do just a really good job of playing fast and make them really work to have to defend us. If not, they’re going to know our tendencies and our schemes. … It’s about how well you execute.”
2) Johns Hopkins’ strategy vs. Maryland’s midfield. The Terps have relied on a diverse midfield that emphasizes depth over superstardom. Three different midfielder have scored at least 10 goals each and four have registered at least 10 points each. Their ability to share the ball has impressed Blue Jays coach Dave Pietramala. “I think this year, even more so than last, I think they play a very team-brand of offense,” he said. “In watching them, it doesn’t appear that they care who gets the credit. It doesn’t appear that they care who’s playing as long as whoever’s playing is playing well. [Redshirt sophomore Mike] Chanenchuk was banged up, and [senior attackman Joe] Cummings moved up to the midfield. They’re doing the things that they need to do to be successful and win and develop depth. So I really am impressed with their balance offensively. They play their first and second midfields pretty equally. I think they play their second midfield, and they’ve shown that they have confidence in them, and quite honestly, they’ve shown that they can do the job.”
3) Maryland’s faceoffs vs. Johns Hopkins’ faceoffs. The Blue Jays have just one loss on the ledger, but the 13-9 setback to North Carolina April 1 was fueled by sophomore R.G. Keenan’s 18-of-25 showing on faceoffs. Fortunately for the Terps, junior Curtis Holmes – who had been under 50 percent for much of the season – bounced back with a 15-of-20 display in the team’s victory over Navy. An effective Holmes, who won 15-of-27 draws in last season’s meeting with Johns Hopkins, would provide a significant boost for Maryland. “You hope that’s something he can carry over,” Tillman said. “When you don’t do as well as you’d like in a certain area of the game, you’re going to put more time into it. So just like we would, I’m sure they’re working on some things, and they probably have a couple different wrinkles and a couple different counters. So we’ve got to be prepared for that, too.”