A goal by Villanova freshman midfielder Devin McNamara (Boys’ Latin) and a one-minute penalty on Johns Hopkins junior long-stick midfielder Michael Pellegrino 77 seconds into the third quarter not only helped the Wildcats close the gap to 7-6, but also appeared to give them a prime opportunity to tie the score.
But sophomore Craig Madarasz – filling in for an ineffective Drew Kennedy – won the ensuing faceoff (one in his 7-of-9 night) and the No. 5 Blue Jays eventually pulled away with a 13-7 victory at Homewood Field in Baltimore on Wednesday night.
Asked to characterize the importance of Madarasz’s play, coach Dave Pietramala replied: “Huge, and I thought Craig Madarasz in a tough spot came in and gave us a little bit of a lift. … I thought they did a good job of putting a little pressure on us.
"We’ve got to be better off the ground off the faceoff. We’ve got to do a better job there. If we picked some of those balls up and can give those balls to the attack and actually have possession … I think it’s a much different game earlier than later.”
Villanova coach Michael Corrado also noted how that faceoff win changed the tenor of the game.
“We didn’t get the faceoff and then all of a sudden we got the penalties and then it was 9-7, 10-7 and then you start pressing,” he said. “On both ends of the field, we didn’t execute.”
Circling back to “Three Things to Watch” …
1) Villanova turnovers lead to Johns Hopkins goals. The Wildcats committed just 12 turnovers, which is more than four giveaways fewer than their season average of 16.3. But the Blue Jays did convert two of those turnovers into goals in transition, and Pietramala said the defense influenced Villanova into playing longer possessions on offense and potentially getting into trouble.
“One thing I thought we did do a good job of was, I thought we handled their early offense, their quick-strike stuff,” Pietramala said. “They are very good in the early portion of the possession. I thought we forced them to extend their possessions and play longer, which gave us an opportunity for them to turn it over a little bit more because they do take some chances.”
2) Turnovers don’t hurt Johns Hopkins. The Blue Jays actually finished with one more giveaway than Villanova did. Nine of those turnovers occurred in the second half, but their gaffes did not end up hurting the team. The starting attack of senior Brandon Benn, Wells Stanwick (Boys’ Latin) and Ryan Brown (Calvert Hall) combined for zero turnovers.
“[T]hey’re different,” Pietramala said of the Wildcats’ defenders. “They’re long, they extend, they knock balls down, they’re active checkers. You don’t see much of that in practice.”
3) Johns Hopkins overcomes missed opportunities on man-up offense. The Blue Jays converted 40 percent (2 of 5) of their extra-man chances, which falls significantly short of their season-long success rate of 53.5 percent (23-of-43). The unit squandered a six-on-four situation early in the third quarter when senior midfielder Rob Guida’s errant pass strayed out of bounds.
“Those are lost opportunities,” Pietramala said. “… When we get those opportunities, we’ve got to cash them and put our foot down and kind of extend the lead when we have those opportunities.”