The Johns Hopkins men's lacrosse team still has three games left in the regular season, but the No. 15 Blue Jays (5-6) are talking playoffs.
As in, if they lose one more game, their season might be over.
"Our playoffs start this week," senior attackman Steven Boyle said, referring to Saturday's contest against Navy at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis at noon. "We can't have any slip-ups and we can't drop another one. We've got to come out and try to get a ‘W.'"
Boyle's comment might not sound as far-fetched as it appears. Johns Hopkins has lost six games in the regular season for the first time since 1971. That squad went 3-7 and missed the NCAA tournament.
Since then, the program has qualified for every NCAA tournament, an amazing streak of 38 consecutive appearances. A 39th, however, is questionable.
Of the Blue Jays' five victories, only one came against a school with a winning record (Siena). Last May, the selection committee's decision to leave Loyola at home seemed to place a premium on quality wins.
Coach Dave Pietramala has heard the speculation that if Johns Hopkins can win two of its three remaining contests — against Navy on Saturday, Towson on Wednesday, and No. 7 Loyola on May 8 — the team's strength of schedule and Rating Percentage Index could be strong enough to warrant an at-large bid.
"If we lose and then win the next two, I don't know what happens," he said. "We'd be putting our destiny in everybody else's hands."
Navy seeks to end streaks
For the Midshipmen, a victory over Johns Hopkins would halt a three-game slide and end a 36-game losing streak to the Blue Jays that dates back to 1975.
Twelve of the past 24 meetings have been decided by one or two goals, and three contests have gone into overtime. But coach Richie Meade said he doesn't intend to treat his players to a history lesson.
"We're talking about beating Johns Hopkins in 2010," he said. "Now I may have mentioned, ‘Now, fellas, we haven't done this in a long time.' I may have mentioned how many years it's been. But there's not a lot of psychology here at the Naval Academy. These guys are going to be leaders, and they understand what the situation is, and they understand what the goal is. We're not all going to write down our fears against Johns Hopkins and put them in a box and burn the box and think that it's all gone. That's not our approach."