Johns Hopkins vs. Syracuse men's lacrosse: Three things to watch

Johns Hopkins has a slight 27-25-1 lead in this series, but Syracuse has won eight of 12 meetings in the NCAA Division I tournament and five of the past six postseason contests. The Blue Jays are 28-12 in the quarterfinals, but have not reached the Final Four since 2008. The Orange have lost just three times in 30 trips to the quarterfinals, but are seeking only their second appearance in the Final Four in the last six years.

Johns Hopkins (10-6) is riding the wave of a six-game winning streak after easily dispatching No. 7 seed Virginia, 19-7, in Sunday's first round. As the offense has thrived by averaging 14.7 goals during the team's run, so too has senior attackman Wells Stanwick. With four points against the Cavaliers, the Baltimore resident and Boys' Latin graduate became just the ninth player in school history to record 200 career points and has registered a point in 35 consecutive games.


Syracuse (13-2), the No. 2 seed in the NCAA tournament, walloped Marist, 20-8, in Sunday's first round. An offense that ranks second in the country in scoring at 14.9 goals per game continues to lean on Kevin Rice. With a career-high nine points against the Red Foxes, the senior attackman moved into a tie for 12th place on the program's all-time scoring list with 215 points.

Here are a few factors that could play a role in the outcome of this NCAA tournament quarterfinal at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis on Sunday at 12 p.m.

1) Defense. As mentioned above, the Orange have found the net quickly and easily. Their offense has been held to less than 10 goals in just two contests this spring. The Blue Jays have surrendered just 8.8 goals per game during their recent spurt after giving up an average of 10.6 in their first 10 games, and four of the last six opponents have not reached the 10-goal plateau. But coach Dave Pietramala fully understands how difficult it will be to limit Syracuse's starting offense of Rice (33 goals and 44 assists), redshirt junior Dylan Donahue (47, 19) and senior Randy Staats (26, 24) on attack and redshirt seniors Nicky Galasso (33, 7), Hakeem Lecky (17, 8) and Henry Schoonmaker (15, 4) in the midfield.

"When you look at their first six, they're as good – if not better than – as anybody's and at least most," Pietramala said. "You have to pick your poison a little bit. The emergence of Galasso along with Lecky and Schoonmaker has really made them an even more challenging group to defend. I think you always knew what you were getting with Rice and Donahue, and I think in 2015, Staats fits in better. … There's great chemistry there."

2) Offense. The Johns Hopkins defense could use some help from the offense. The starting attack of Stanwick (22, 41), junior Ryan Brown (58, 12) and freshman Shack Stanwick (23, 21) is a known commodity, and the first midfield of freshman Joel Tinney (25, 9) and juniors Holden Cattoni (21, 5) and Connor Reed (10, 16) is a good supporting cast. The team could use another five-goal, one-assist outing from the second midfield of sophomores John Crawley (16, 10), Cody Radziewicz (8, 1) and Kieran Eissler (4, 1), but Pietramala is not picky about where the goals come from.

"We're going to have to generate offense," he said. "To think we're going to hold this group to seven goals and win an 8-7 game, I think we would be setting ourselves up for failure there. We're going to have to score some goals and find a way to generate shots. Not just in a six-on-six, but in the extra-man and transition and some broken situations."

3) Loose balls. The Blue Jays rank 18th in the nation in faceoff percentage (53.9 percent on 226 of 419) and 25th in ground balls per game (29.6). But the Orange are even better in those departments, ranking third in faceoffs (66.3 percent on 270 of 407) and seventh in ground balls (34.6). Syracuse gained the edge in both aspects in its 13-10 victory over Johns Hopkins on March 14, winning 16 of 27 draws and collecting 36 loose balls to the Blue Jays' 20. Pietramala predicted that faceoffs and ground balls will play a crucial role in Sunday's outcome.

"Each one of those categories equals possessions, and if you're going to provide them with 33, 34, 35, 36 possessions per game, you're going to walk away with some problems," he said. "We, on the other hand, need some possessions to give our defense a breather and allow our offense to get into a rhythm."