Johns Hopkins opened the season with a comfortable 12-6 victory over visiting Towson at Homewood Field Friday evening, but there was little that was comfortable about the team’s performance on faceoffs.
The No. 4 Blue Jays finished with a 9-of-21 showing on draws, but those numbers were distorted by a 6-of-7 display in the fourth quarter. Through the first three quarters, the unit had won just 3-of-14 faceoffs.
Still, Johns Hopkins collected 30 groundballs to the Tigers’ 21, which pleased coach Dave Pietramala.
“I think the thing I’m most proud of is we did what I would deem a very below-average job at the faceoff X and yet we still came out on top in loose balls,” he said. “That’s been a focal point for us. I’m pretty pleased with that.”
Without the services of junior Mike Poppleton for undisclosed reasons, freshman Drew Kennedy went 9-of-14, but the trio of junior midfielder John Ranagan, sophomore defenseman Jack Reilly and freshman long-stick midfielder Michael Pellegrino combined to go 0-of-7.
The key for the Blue Jays was a relentless ride that forced Towson to misfire on 8-of-25 clears and contributed to the team’s game-high 21 turnovers.
“We needed to try to steal them in transition and score some easy goals and get some off the ride,” Pietramala said. “I thought [attackmen] Zach [Palmer] and Chris [Boland] and Wells [Stanwick] and Brandon [Benn] did a really good job of scrambling there.”
*Aside from junior Lee Coppersmith’s two goals and senior Marshall Burkhart’s single goal, no other midfielder could find the net. The first line of juniors John Ranagan and John Greeley and sophomore Rob Guida combined for 0-of-16 shooting, placing only five on net. Ranagan and Greeley each recorded an assist, but Pietramala said the unit must improve. “I don’t think we shot the ball from the midfield very well at all,” he said. “That’s part of the game. So that’s an area we’re going to need to focus on.”
*The Tigers’ inability to take advantage of junior Matt Thomas’ 12-of-20 night on faceoffs frustrated coach Shawn Nadelen. At times, the players were too careless with the ball after Thomas either won the ball to himself (a game-high six groundballs) or directed it to his teammates. “When we have those opportunities where he’s doing a terrific job to the point where they’ve got to put a pole up to try to stop him – and even then, as far as getting the ball, that was very difficult for them to do – for us to have that many more opportunities offensively and not capitalize was a big part why we capped it at six goals instead of having 12 or 13,” Nadelen said.
*Seconds after sophomore midfielder Andrew Hodgson followed senior attackman Sean Maguire’s goal with a score of his own to trim the score to 11-6 with 10:27 left in the fourth quarter, Nadelen called a timeout during which the players sang a portion of the university’s fight song, he revealed. “It’s something we’ve asked our guys to memorize,” Nadelen said. “I think it could be a bit of a rally cry for us at times. That was just something that at that point we needed and to understand that there was probably close to 11 minutes or so left on the clock at that point, and we’re still in the fight. Six goals down with 11 minutes, I think it was about that. We’re never going to count ourselves out of a game. We’ll keep scratching and clawing and fighting, and that fight song is who Towson athletics and university is, and that’s what we are. That was kind of a point for us to make with that time remaining.”