Johns Hopkins trying to stay even-keeled on roller coaster of emotions

In the aftermath of Johns Hopkins' 13-8 loss to No. 11 Syracuse on March 16, doom and gloom seemed to befall the program.

Since the team's 15-8 rout of No. 13 Virginia this past Saturday, a sense of jubilation is following the Blue Jays as they prepare for Saturday's game against No. 4 North Carolina.


Navigating the roller coaster of emotions from one end of the spectrum to the other might be a factor for Johns Hopkins (6-2), but coach Dave Pietramala said the players and coaches are not buying into the hype after the victory over the Cavaliers.

"To be honest, we consider it all to be distractions -- whether it's positive news or negative news," he said Wednesday afternoon en route to watch the Tar Heels face No. 14 Brown on Wednesday night. "We've learned very quickly that you're never as good as to think you are and you're never as bad as you think you are. ... We talk to them about avoiding distractions -- or avoiding the noise, as we call it. We tell them, 'Listen, the only thing that matters is what we think, what the coaches think and what the players think, and that's it.' We've always taken that tack. I said the same thing after we lost to Syracuse, and the same thing holds true after we beat Virginia. It's one game. You're winning or losing the national championship in March. There is a lot of lacrosse left, and while we had a poor performance against Syracuse, we had a more positive one against Virginia."

Pietramala was pleased with the effort he saw from the players in the week of practice after the setback to the Orange. He is not concerned that they will let their guard down this week after senior midfielder John Ranagan spoke in a team huddle about how the attention to detail in practice led to the positive results against the Cavaliers.

"Practice has been filled with energy, and they've practiced hard," Pietramala said. "There have been moments when it's good and there are moments when it's not-so-good. Nonetheless, the effort is there, the energy is there, and the attentiveness is there, which was very much missing against Syracuse. So hopefully, as we talked about after the game against Virginia, it's a lesson learned. We've been to two ends of the spectrum, and I said, 'You saw what happens when we don't practice well, when we're not attentive, when we don't listen, and when we don't do the things we need to focus on. And then you saw the results against Virginia after we did those things.'"

One positive for the Blue Jays may be their next opponent. The Tar Heels (5-3) tagged then-No. 1 Maryland with its first loss of the season last Saturday, and they did the same thing to Johns Hopkins last year when the Blue Jays lost for the first time in nine contests.

Pietramala said he wants the players to remember the sting of that setback.

"You use things as motivation, and while those things aren't the only things that drive you, you want to remember the feeling, and we felt like we didn't play very well," he said. "I went back and watched the game, and at one point there, it was 8-7. We had possession of the ball and we could have tied it up, but we didn't get the job done. So you use that hopefully as a learning tool. But the guys know how we felt after the game last year. They know how we performed after that game last year, and certainly, we'd like to perform better. We're going to need to. We need to remember how we felt after that game and what it will take in this week of practice to make sure that we put ourselves in a position to have a chance to be successful."