Both teams enter this contest smarting from unexpected losses. Mount St. Mary’s dropped a 13-5 decision to a Towson team that had won just once in its previous four games. The Mountaineers (2-3) will be playing their fourth contest in 11 days and are 2-1 when the offense has scored at least 11 goals this season. Johns Hopkins absorbed an 11-8 upset loss at the hands of then-No. 14 Princeton that dropped the Blue Jays from No. 5 to No. 10. Johns Hopkins (3-1), which has won all four previous meetings with Mount St. Mary’s, is 57-7 against teams from Maryland since Dave Pietramala became the head coach prior to the 2001 season. Here are a few factors that could influence the outcome at Homewood Field in Baltimore Tuesday evening.
1) Watch and talk. The first thing that stands out to Pietramala is Mount St. Mary’s starting attack. Seniors Andrew Scalley (10 goals and 14 assists), Brett Schmidt (12, 8) and Cody Lehrer (12, 5) have accounted for 69.4 percent of the team’s goals and 74.4 percent of the points. Pietramala said the trio plays like old-school attackmen who force opposing defenses to adapt to them. “We’re going to have to communicate very well,” he said. “They run a lot of picks behind the goal. That forces you to be communicative. There’s a lot of movement on the interior of their offense, which if you don’t communicate very well, you’re going to wind up with guys open all over the place. So I really believe this is a group that we have to be very disciplined against, very fundamentally sound and very communicative.”
2) Fight back the emotion. The Mountaineers are still smarting from the loss to Towson, but their emotion might get overwhelmed by the tidal wave waiting for them at Homewood Field. The Blue Jays are eager to get the sour taste from the setback to Princeton out of their mouths, and Mount St. Mary’s coach Tom Gravante is preparing his players to steel themselves for a ravenous opponent. “These kids have got to be ready to play,” he said. “Now we’ve got a very, very good team coming off a loss against Princeton at home, and they’re not going to be happy. As I said to the folks from ESPN, I thought I should call [coach] Chris Bates up at Princeton and thank him for knocking the hornet’s nest off the tree as Mount St. Mary’s walks into it. But our guys understand, and if I’m coaching that team tomorrow against Mount St. Mary’s, I’m going to try to put them away as quick as I can. I’m covering them as soon as they get off the bus. I’m going after them, and I let our guys know that. This team is coming after us. It’s time for us to play ball, the ball we’re capable of playing.”
3) Turn faceoff wins into goals. Pietramala openly lamented the team’s inability to take advantage of senior faceoff specialist Mike Poppleton’s 15-of-22 showing against Princeton. In addition to turning those wins into goals, Pietramala said he would like to see the offense take advantage of Poppleton’s prowess into scores during faceoff transition. “I’d like to see us capitalize a little bit more in the transition portion of his wins,” Pietramala said. “In this game against Princeton, we had two or three. I recall one time he comes down and shoots one from about 10 and we put in the goalie’s stick. Another time, we bang one to [sophomore attackman] Wells Stanwick and Wells shoots it over the goal. I’d like to see us reward ourselves for creating those transition opportunities a little bit more. That’s one area I’d like to see us be better in.”