U.S. Army Capt. Benjamin Harrow, who lost both legs in a mine explosion in Afghanistan and spoke to the Johns Hopkins men’s lacrosse team on Thursday night as part of the program’s partnership with the Wounded Warrior Project, delivered what coach Dave Pietramala described as the perfect message for a team in a three-game losing streak before Friday’s night’s 13-8 victory over No. 19 Albany at Homewood Field.
“One of our keys each week is we focus on what we can control,” Pietramala said. He added: “That’s been the focus, what we can control. We can’t control what happened against Syracuse [in a 12-10 loss last month]. We can learn from it. We can’t control what happened last week. To be quite frank with you, the message that we got yesterday from Ben Harrow fell right into place with where this team was, which was, ‘You can’t whine about what’s happened. You can’t worry about what’s happened. You can only worry about where you’re headed.’ That’s been the message all week.”
Still, sophomore midfielder Holden Cattoni, who scored a career-high four goals Friday night, acknowledged that ending the slide felt good, especially as the Blue Jays (6-3) prepare for next Saturday’s showdown with No. 6 Maryland (9-1).
“It’s nice to win,” he said. “Our losing streak, we lost three straight to three very good teams. We didn’t look at it as a negative. We just took it as the next week. The one thing that Coach kept saying to us is, in sports, you always have the next week, and that’s what we’ve been focusing on. We can’t change the last three games, and the entire week, we were focused on this game. We didn’t worry about Syracuse or Virginia or North Carolina. We worried about Albany.”
Other notes, as we circle back to “Three Things to Watch” …
1) The Thompson trio's quiet first half. Their stat sheet was solid. Senior attackman Miles Thompson finished with two goals and two assists, junior attackman Lyle Thompson had one goal and three assists, and senior attackman Ty Thompson scored once. But all their numbers came in the second half. In the first half, they combined for no goals on two shots, plus one assist and four turnovers. Johns Hopkins senior defenseman Jack Reilly was especially effective in blanking Lyle Thompson, the Division I leader in assists (37) and points (59) entering the game, over the first two quarters.
“Really, it was just containing him,” said Reilly, who has played with the Thompsons in summer ball in upstate New York. “I knew he was going to make plays. I was talking to [former Blue Jays defenseman] Tucker [Durkin] the other night, and he said [Lyle Thompson] is just that type of player. He’s just going to make plays. I had to understand that, and going into this game, I really wanted to contain him, and I really wanted him to beat me tonight. I felt pretty happy about that. I’ve got to give a big shout-out to my defense helping me out. A few times when I got beat, they were sliding and double-teaming, and that really helped me out. It was a great team defense that we played against them today.”
2) The offensive explosion in the first half. As well as Hopkins' defense played, the offense was equally as productive in the first two quarters. The unit scored nine goals on 27 shots in the first half en route to a 9-1 halftime lead. For the game, the offense posted its largest output in goals and shots since March 8, when the team thumped UMBC, 15-8, and took 45 attempts. Johns Hopkins got long-distance howitzers from sophomore attackman Ryan Brown (Calvert Hall), alley dodges from Cattoni and short-range snipes from senior attackman Brandon Benn. Albany sophomore goalkeeper Blaze Riorden made a game-high 12 saves, but said the Blue Jays were unrelenting.
“They shot the ball very well,” Riorden said. “They were shooting from far away, but they were hitting a lot of lower corners. They beat me low a lot, and they kept shooting there. I wasn’t able to get down, and I wasn’t able to get into a rhythm.”
3) A surprising outcome in faceoffs. The prevailing thought was that with the Great Danes ranked No. 60 in Division I in faceoffs (39.3 percent), Johns Hopkins could exert its considerable strength on draws. But in a surprising twist, Albany freshman Connor Russell outdueled junior Drew Kennedy, finishing with a 14-10 edge. Kennedy collected seven ground balls to Russell’s five, but Russell’s performance against Kennedy — who entered the game ranked third in the country at 69.0 percent (129-for-187) — was surprising even to his coach, Scott Marr.
“If you had told me before the game we were going to go 14-for-24 on faceoffs, I would have said that we would probably win by three or four goals,” Marr said. “For us to have that many possessions off the faceoff, that doesn’t happen too often, and generally when we get that many possessions, we do score. We did not possess the ball well and did not take advantage of our opportunities in the first half.”