Baltimore County

North Carolina another 'important' game for slumping Johns Hopkins

Seven games into the current season, No. 10 Johns Hopkins has a 5-2 record but has missed an opportunity to strengthen its resume for the NCAA tournament.

The Blue Jays have dropped back-to-back contests to No. 8 Virginia (8-2) and No. 9 Syracuse (4-3) in consecutive weekends. Their best wins thus far are No. 15 Princeton (4-3) and No. 19 Towson (7-2), but failing to get significant victories played a role in the program's absence from the NCAA playoffs last spring for the first time since 1971.

Johns Hopkins has another chance to embellish its resume when No. 6 North Carolina (7-2) travels to Homewood Field in Baltimore on Saturday at 2 p.m., but coach Dave Pietramala said the upcoming game is no more important than the previous seven or the next six after the Tar Heels’ visit.

“Every game’s important,” he said on Wednesday morning. “When you start making one game more important than the next, what happens when you win that game? There’s a letdown before the next one because it’s not as important. And what happens if you lose that game? You can’t tell me that UMBC is not important, because if we lose that game, that hurts your resume. There are games that are going to help your resume and games that are going to hurt your resume, and they’re all important. … We’ve lost two games to ranked opponents by a total of three goals. The great thing is, we have a lot of lacrosse ahead of us, and a lot of important games. The only one that’s of our concern right now is the one right in front of us, and that’s North Carolina. And once North Carolina is over, we’ll take the next one.”

Even a loss against North Carolina won’t cripple the Blue Jays. They still have contests against No. 12 Albany (3-4) on April 4, No. 7 Maryland (7-1) on April 12 and No. 1 Loyola Maryland (8-1) on May 3, and could enhance their resume with wins against those opponents.

“We have to continue to improve and we have to take those next steps in order to win those games,” Pietramala said. “Nonetheless, we’re still growing and we’re still developing and we still are a work in progress. We’re still moving pieces of the puzzle around a little bit. … That being said, at some point, you have to win some games. And the nice part is there’s so much lacrosse still left. Our goal is to continue to grow and to continue improve every game and every day in practice. Whether it’s a win or whether it’s a loss, we have to continue to improve, and we are in certain areas and we aren’t in others.”

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