Holden Cattoni’s recent promotion to Johns Hopkins’ starting midfield might become permanent if he continues to perform as he did Saturday.
The sophomore posted career highs in assists (four) and points (five) in the No. 3 Blue Jays’ 15-8 victory over UMBC at Retrievers Stadium in Catonsville.
Cattoni wasn’t the offensive star of the game — senior attackman Brandon Benn and junior attackman Wells Stanwick (Boys' Latin), who each finished with six points, shared that honor — but he did serve as a catalyst for a first midfield line that included senior Rob Guida (two goals) and sophomore Connor Reed (one goal and one assist).
“It was a good game for me,” Cattoni said. “Our offense played very well. I felt we had a great day. It didn’t result in the number of goals that we would have liked. We left a lot on the table with our shooting. But overall, the offense played fairly well and the way we wanted to.”
Cattoni’s four helpers eclipsed the three he registered in all of 2013, and his five points matched his total in the team’s first four games. Cattoni had played on the second line in Hopkins’ first three contests, but was bumped to the starting unit for the Princeton game last Saturday.
Cattoni, who now has 10 points on six goals and four assists in 2014, surpassing the nine points he compiled last season, said he has grown comfortable playing with Guida and Reed.
“I like it a lot,” he said. “I live with Connor Reed. So I’m really familiar with him, and Rob is a very comfortable player to play with. We communicate very well, and we’re all on the same page. With our offense, it’s very easy to play with one another. We’re always fluid and we’re always moving. So the chemistry is there.”
Coach Dave Pietramala was pleased with Cattoni’s effectiveness, but pointed out that his hope is that the offense produces a different standout for every contest.
“I thought Holden and Wells both distributed the ball fairly well,” Pietramala said, referring to Stanwick’s three assists. “Another day, it could be Rob Guida or somebody else on another day. It’s just one of those things where, offensively, it’s going to continue to evolve. … Now you’ve got to deal with six guys. Here’s Holden, and I don’t think he’s ever had four assists here at Hopkins. He has a career high in assists because he did a good job within the framework of the offense. His opportunities were there, and he cashed in on them. He put the ball in the right spot, and Brandon cashed in on finishing the ball. That’s the hope, that it’s going to be an offense that will force people to defend six guys.”
* The Blue Jays improved to 5-0 for the fourth time under Pietramala, but there were a few hiccups along the way. The team led by as much as 7-1 in the first quarter, but seemed to rein in its aggressiveness in the second quarter. That opening was all the Retrievers needed to score five unanswered goals before halftime. Hopkins eventually pulled away, thanks to a 6-0 fourth period, but Pietramala said he thought the team got lackadaisical after the big lead in the first quarter. “To be quite frank with you, I thought that when we were up 7-1, we started to play to the score,” he said. “I thought we almost felt like they were going to roll over, and I can tell you that I played for the man, and a Don Zimmerman team will never roll over. It was a very valuable lesson for us when they came back. They played a hard and gutsy, hard-fought game, and we feel fortunate to come away with a win.”
*Pietramala also thought his defense did not do enough to contain UMBC midfielder Pat Young. The sophomore scored all four of his goals during the team’s 5-0 run spanning the first and second quarters, including two while inverting behind the cage. Pietramala said that wasn’t surprising, but noted that several defensemen seemed to forget the scouting report on Young. “He’s a guy that doesn’t pass the ball a lot,” Pietramala said. “That’s not his thing. His thing is, he can hammer it home when he can set his feet, and he’s a nice, strong, physical athlete. We gave him his right hand, and you can’t let that kid have his right hand. I thought when [junior long-stick midfielder] Mike [Pellegrino] was on him, Mike did a good job. But I thought when the matchups changed, I don’t think we reacted very well.”
*Retrievers goalkeeper Connor Gordon made a game-best 16 saves, but there was some concern early in the week that the redshirt freshman would be unavailable for Saturday’s game. Zimmerman said Gordon suffered an injury during practice and underwent X-rays to make sure the unspecified injury wasn’t serious. The X-rays were negative, and Gordon recovered quickly enough to post his fourth straight double-digit save total. “I couldn’t be happier with the way Connor’s playing,” Zimmerman said of Gordon, who has a 9.98 goals-against average and .587 save percentage. “We have to work on our clearing game — not only Connor, but the coaches and players. I thought we threw the ball away on clears. We were offside on clears a couple times, [although] I didn’t see it. So I feel very confident with Connor Gordon in the goal for us, and I think our team does as well.”