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Fluid goalie situation for Johns Hopkins men's lacrosse made easier by principals involved

Maryland attackman Matt Rambo (1) fires a shot past Johns Hopkins goalie Eric Schneider (6) and Johns Hopkins Long Stick Midfielder Michael Pellegrino (34) for a goal during an NCAA Men's lacrosse match between the University of Maryland and Johns Hopkins at the University of Maryland in College Park, Maryland.
Maryland attackman Matt Rambo (1) fires a shot past Johns Hopkins goalie Eric Schneider (6) and Johns Hopkins Long Stick Midfielder Michael Pellegrino (34) for a goal during an NCAA Men's lacrosse match between the University of Maryland and Johns Hopkins at the University of Maryland in College Park, Maryland.(Daniel Kucin Jr. / BALTIMORE SUN)

The dynamic in sports between veterans and newcomers is unique. Older players generally counsel and share wisdom they've gained with younger teammates who are competing to push those same mentors to the bench, and those relationships can be critical to the success of a team.

That rapport has played out for No. 17 Johns Hopkins where fifth-year senior Eric Schneider and junior Will Ryan continue to compete for the right to start in goal. In the past three games, the duo have traded places in the net with Ryan replacing Schneider in an 11-10 double overtime win against Penn State on April 11, Schneider returning the favor in a 16-9 victory over Michigan on April 18, and Ryan finishing Schneider's start in a 15-12 win at Maryland on Saturday.

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The flip-flopping in the cage might put a strain on Schneider and Ryan –- except that each player has been supportive of the other, according to coach Dave Pietramala.

"They've been very positive with each other," he said Tuesday. "That's been something that has been very important. I look out my window and I see Eric Schneider every day taking extra shots from [senior attackman] Wells Stanwick and other guys. And I see Will Ryan out there. So I know they're working hard, I know they're trying to do the right things to get where they hope to be. We'll just have to continue to deal with it. … No one wants to do this, and it's certainly challenging for the young men. To their credit, they've handled it like good teammates should. Makes it easier to deal with some inconsistency when they're both so enthusiastic for the other guys and so supportive of the other guy."

Pietramala acknowledged that rotating goalkeepers is not an optimal approach.

"Neither guy hopes to be inconsistent," he said. "Both guys have played well at moments. Neither one of them wants that. The coaches don't want it, the players don't want it. But like anything else, you deal with what's thrown your way, and the way we've approached it is to try to remain positive. We've tried to be demanding of them, and we've let them know that we need to be more consistent. We've made that very clear."

So will Schneider or Ryan start for the top-seeded Blue Jays (7-6) when they meet No. 4 seed Penn State (5-8) in a Big Ten Conference tournament semifinal on Thursday at 5:30 p.m. at Byrd Stadium in College Park? Pietramala was tight-lipped.

"Everybody will see who plays when we step on the field Thursday night," he said.

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