For the first time in several decades, Dave Pietramala will not be at championship weekend for NCAA Division I men’s lacrosse as a player or a coach. But the former Johns Hopkins defenseman and head coach will be less than 30 minutes away from Rentschler Field in East Hartford, Connecticut, working as an in-studio analyst for ESPN in Bristol during Saturday’s semifinals and Monday’s title game.
“They’re going to take the risk and actually let me be in-studio,” Pietramala quipped. “I’m really grateful to ESPN and [college football and lacrosse producer] John Kettering and those guys. They were kind enough to allow me to do it. I’m excited in some way, shape or form to be part of the Final Four.
“I’ve followed all the games, and I watched them all this weekend, and I think there’s some great teams and some really great matchups and some unique game plans that could be hatched with guys like [Duke graduate student attackman] Michael Sowers and [Maryland senior attackman] Jared Bernhardt. I think there’s a lot that has to be done to achieve success. So I’m excited to be a part of it and it keeps me out in the lacrosse community and allows me to be relevant.”
Pietramala has kept himself busy with his work for Fivestar Lacrosse, which he founded with longtime friend and rival Dave Cottle, and has been serving as a lacrosse adviser for Cottle’s Legendary Sports Group, a sports and media company. Pietramala also has been a highly sought-after guest speaker for high school and college teams this spring.
But Pietramala — who is the Blue Jays’ all-time winningest coach with 207 victories, guided the program to national titles in 2005 and 2007 and five more Final Four appearances, and is the only player in college lacrosse history to capture an NCAA championship as a player in 1987 and as a coach — said he longs to return to coaching.
“I’m poking my nose around,” he said. “A lot of this is dependent on if people have interest in you. I’m aware there are a lot of good coaches out there, and the season hasn’t come to an end yet. So we’ll see what happens and what transpires in the next two weeks or so.”
But if his weekend appearances with ESPN are deemed a success, could Pietramala follow predecessors like Army West Point’s Jack Emmer, Denver’s Jamie Munro and UMBC’s Don Zimmerman into a career in TV?
“You’re kind to think I could even hit it off,” Pietramala said. “But I would much rather be on the sideline, and I’d much rather be talking to reporters than being one. And that is in no way, shape or form meant as a negative to the media. But there’s no place I’d rather be than on a sideline.”
Cockerille getting recognized
On an offense for the No. 3 seed Syracuse women that boasts junior attacker Meaghan Tyrrell (62 goals and 40 assists), freshman attacker Emma Ward (38 goals and 26 assists) and sophomore midfielder Emma Tyrrell (38 goals and 14 assists, junior midfielder Sierra Cockerille might not draw many eyes from opposing defenses.
But the Baltimore resident and Roland Park graduate ranks third among the Orange in assists with 25 and fifth in points with 46. She is also fourth in draw controls with 15, tied for sixth in caused turnovers with nine, and ranks seventh in ground balls with 17, which is why coach Gary Gait called Cockerille “a key factor.”
“She’s not talked about among the elite in the country, but we need her to have success,” he said. “What she does more than anything for us is, she plays good D, she transitions the ball, and one of the big things is, she’s our best passing middie. She finds the open players. She leads our midfield in assists. That’s the important part of her game. She brings it and does a great job.”
LeBlanc came through
Senior defenseman Kyle LeBlanc was not expected to contribute much to the Loyola Maryland men’s quarterfinal game against No. 2 seed Duke on Sunday, flying with the team to South Bend, Indiana, with only his jersey and no equipment.
But 43 days after suffering an MCL sprain in a 12-7 loss to Army on April 10, LeBlanc rotated with senior starter John Railey in marking Blue Devils senior attackman Joe Robertson. LeBlanc finished with a team-high two caused turnovers and added two ground balls in the 10-9 overtime loss.
“Kind of midway through the game, we thought that John and Kyle could help us try to be a two-headed monster a little bit with Robertson,” said coach Charley Toomey, who agreed with defensive coordinator Matt Dwan to use LeBlanc primarily on man-down defense. “I think at one point in the fourth quarter, Railey just looked at Coach Dwan and I and said, ‘I think it might be a better matchup right now for Kyle.’ So we were very comfortable with both of them. When that moment happened, we thought, ‘OK. Kyle’s ready,’ and he said he felt great.”
In her first season as a full-time starter, junior attacker Caitlynn Mossman ranks second among the Boston College women in assists with 33 and fifth in points with 51.
The Towson resident and Notre Dame Prep graduate’s development has been a nice complement to the No. 4 seed Eagles offense helmed by senior attacker and Tewaaraton Award finalist Charlotte North, but not terribly shocking to coach Acacia Walker-Weinstein.
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“We stalked Caitlynn in high school — or I did,” joked Walker-Weinstein, an Annapolis and Maryland graduate. “She was just incredibly dynamic for her club team and her high school, and she has really good vision. It’s been so fun to watch her come into her own this year, and her teammates love her, and they play hard for her. It’s been really great because I did expect this, and I know that she’s got even more. So we’re pushing her to get even better.”