An underlying subplot of No. 13 Johns Hopkins' 7-4 upset of No. 6 Maryland last Saturday was the coaching decision to open the contest with senior Lee Coppersmith, junior Rob Guida and freshman Ryan Brown in the midfield instead of the usual threesome of seniors John Ranagan and John Greeley and junior Rex Sanders.
The Coppersmith-Guida-Brown line combined for two goals on 13 shots, while the Ranagan-Greeley-Sanders trio totaled two goals on eight attempts and two assists. Coach Dave Pietramala said no decision has been made on which midfield to start against Navy this Saturday.
"I think we have to be open-minded to everything," he said Thursday morning. "Who's playing well and who's not playing well? Who's practicing well and who's not practicing well? Who's banged up and who's not banged up? Are we unhappy with the way [Coppersmith, Guida and Brown] performed? No, not at all. Do we feel like we need to get more punch offensively? Yeah, we do. We scored seven goals against what I think is a very good defense and a very good goalie, but I think we're always open-minded and constantly evaluating what might be better."
Guida, who had missed the previous eight games because of an undisclosed injury, played the first two contests of the season with Ranagan and Greeley. Last Saturday, he played with Coppersmith and Brown, who have usually lined up with either Sanders or freshman Holden Cattoni.
Pietramala said he didn't notice a lack of chemistry in that group because the midfields are usually jumbled during practices anyway.
"In practice, not every drill that we do has the first midfield together," he said. "When we do some transition stuff, when we do four-on-fours, we will move guys around for the sole purpose of getting the guys used to playing with each other. You don't want to just keep the whole first midfield together in every single drill. What happens if a guy gets hurt? What happens if a guy has to sit out? What happens if a guy goes down in the middle of a game? … You hope that when you do what we did last weekend, the guys handle it the right way, and they don't look at it in any way other than this is what's best for the team. And I would tell you that every one of the guys did that. I thought they all handled it perfectly. But I thought they did fine. I don't think there was a situation where they were uncomfortable together. Obviously, Robbie hasn't played a whole lot of lacrosse. So he was a little rusty, and I think you saw that. But nonetheless, I thought he had an impact on the game by being there. And you hope that the midfield becomes more challenging to cover."
The demotion of Ranagan, Greeley and Sanders might suggest that the coaching staff was displeased with their production. That is not the case, but Pietramala acknowledged that he is looking for more output from the midfield.
"If you keep doing the same things, you can't be surprised by the same results," he said. "Robbie coming back changed things. He forced us to bump some people, and we just felt like we needed to make that change. We felt it was in the best interest of the team. Was it punishment for anybody? Absolutely not. When you look at us, both midfields played a lot. They have all year. The fact that the Coppersmith midfield took the first run, that was different, but that doesn't happen all the time. From our standpoint, it doesn't matter who is on the first midfield, it doesn't matter who goes on the field first, second, third. It's just a matter of, we have a job to do and let's go out there and do it."