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Johns Hopkins men's lacrosse staying even-keeled despite earning top seed in Big Ten tournament

Johns Hopkins men's lacrosse coach Dave Pietramala, center, is pictured after the game against Navy on March 7. His team heads into the Big Ten Conference tournament this week as the No. 1 seed.
Johns Hopkins men's lacrosse coach Dave Pietramala, center, is pictured after the game against Navy on March 7. His team heads into the Big Ten Conference tournament this week as the No. 1 seed.(Kenneth K. Lam / Baltimore Sun)

Riding a three-game winning streak capped by Saturday's 15-12 upset of then-No. 2 Maryland that handed Johns Hopkins a share of the Big Ten Conference regular-season title and the top seed in the upcoming league tournament, the program wouldn't be out of bounds for basking in the limelight.

But in a season where the No. 17 Blue Jays (7-6) continue to mourn the death of freshman defenseman Jeremy Huber and have lost six games by a total of 12 goals, coach Dave Pietramala said the team can't afford to get ahead of itself.

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"We're not in any position to think too much of ourselves," he said Tuesday morning. "We've had a challenging year on a lot of fronts. We've given away some games, we've dealt with a tragedy. If anything, we should remain grounded, and the thing we talked about more than anything is why we had success on Saturday night and the things that we did that allowed us to have success and the things we're going to have to do to move forward. That's been the focus of our conversations."

Reinforcing Pietramala's stance is Thursday's semifinal date with Penn State (5-8). The Nittany Lions are the No. 4 seed, but they took Johns Hopkins to double overtime before freshman midfielder Joel Tinney converted a pass from senior attackman Wells Stanwick (Boys' Latin) with seven seconds left in the extra session.

"The guys are talking Penn State," Pietramala said. "They understand they barely squeaked by. That was a double-overtime win and a game that could have gone either way."

As significant as the victory over the Terps was, the Blue Jays are no lock for the NCAA tournament. Winning the Big Ten tournament and the accompanying automatic qualifier would eliminate that uncertainty, but Pietramala said the team is concentrating on the present.

"At the end of the day, we're excited we have another couple days together, and that's all we're guaranteed," he said. "Given what we've been through, it's exciting to know this team has a few more days together and hopefully, we can earn a few more. I know the goal is to get to the NCAA tournament and the Big Ten championship, but given what this team has been through, a big part of this is to earn more time together."

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