Three weeks into the 2015 regular season, Johns Hopkins will face its first Top 5 opponent, and the challenge is daunting.
The No. 9 Blue Jays (2-1) will visit No. 4 North Carolina on Saturday in what is shaping up as the most attractive game of the weekend. The Tar Heels (3-0) have scored no less than 15 goals in each of their three wins and have not allowed an opponent to score 10 goals.
The luster of the matchup is not lost on Johns Hopkins coach Dave Pietramala, who initially tried to turn down the hype.
"We approach every game the same way," he said Wednesday morning. "We don't make one any bigger than another. If you did that with our schedule, you'd be on an emotional roller coaster. That said, our guys know it's North Carolina, and our guys know it's a very talented team.
"Quite frankly, they may have the most talent in lacrosse right now. They've got guys playing defensive midfield that would play offense for most schools, guys that are very talented that aren't paying. So they have an abundance of talent down there and our guys know it. So they're very well aware of Carolina's abilities and talents."
A game against a Top 5 opponent can serve as a litmus test for the Blue Jays, who have lost seven of the last eight times they've played North Carolina. But Pietramala insisted that the death of freshman defenseman Jeremy Huber and the quick pace of three games in eight days have not yet allowed this squad's identity to bloom.
"It's hard to kind of measure where we are right now," he said. "The hope was that if things had kind of unfolded normally and we didn't have the challenges that we faced, we'd have a better sense for where we are. But I think this will give us a sense of where we are. …
"This is the kind of team that will certainly show you your weaknesses if you have them. If you make mistakes, they're going to capitalize on them. So what we had hoped to gain in our first three games, I think we'll probably have a much better sense coming out of this game."