It’s early in the season and the Johns Hopkins lacrosse team is already in trouble.
After watching the No. 14 Blue Jays lose to No. 12 North Carolina, 13-11, on Friday night before a crowd of nearly 1,300 at Homewood Field, it’s clear Johns Hopkins is a team in search of a lot of things.
In particular, the Blue Jays can’t finish shots. They keep making the same mistakes as far as sliding on defense and committing stupid penalties.
It’s called discipline, or lack thereof.
The Blue Jays (1-2) have enough talent to win against an average or poor opponent, but they won’t beat a strong team like Loyola Maryland or North Carolina (4-0).
Johns Hopkins still has to face Princeton, Syracuse and Virginia in nonconference games and then Rutgers, Ohio State and Penn State in the Big Ten.
Oh my. Trouble is brewing.
“We have to be more disciplined on where we shoot the ball and how we shoot the ball,” Johns Hopkins head coach Dave Pietramala said. “I can think of three specific areas where our discipline hurt us and we have to be more composed and poised. We were not disciplined enough to win that game.”
The Blue Jays have some strengths. They aren’t fast, but they can score in scramble or unsettled situations. They can’t run with a Loyola, but they are good in six-on-six or in man-down situations.
Johns Hopkins has an attackman who can carry the ball in Shack Stanwick (Boys’ Latin) and two other decent outside shooting attackmen in Kyle Marr and Cole Williams (Loyola Blakefield), but it doesn’t have a consistent weapon in the offensive midfield or one player who can take over a game.
The Blue Jays’ shooting percentage is .254 after they were 11-for-39 against the Tar Heels. Hopkins got a number of good looks against North Carolina, especially in the final period, but the Blue Jays were off the mark.
It’s ironic that some of the same problems the Blue Jays have this year hurt them last season. At times, their defense looks lost and slow to react.
Loyola took advantage of that in the midfield and so did the Tar Heels, especially moving without the ball. North Carolina attackman Timmy Kelly (Calvert Hall), who finished with four goals, acknowledged that after the game. Hopkins had trouble matching up with North Carolina midfielder Tanner Cook (four goals), especially in the first half.
Those things happen in a game.
Pietramala was more concerned about the unsportsmanlike conduct penalty after the Blue Jays scored, which led to one North Carolina goal. He was also concerned with how another extra-man goal was given up because of a wrap-around check with one second left on the 30 second clock. And then there was the Tar Heels’ goal scored off the same play Loyola ran a week ago.
That’s the type of stuff that irritates a coach.
A week ago, the Blue Jays seemed uninterested in their loss to Loyola, which was disturbing because the schools are only several miles away from each other.
If you are a Blue Jays fan, maybe that can be attributed to playing nearby Towson, another rival, the week before. But this team is going through some troubling times again.
The Blue Jays lost to a North Carolina team that was unbeaten, but those victories were against Lafayette, Furman and Lehigh, the latter two coming in overtime. Just like Johns Hopkins, the Tar Heels were a team in search of themselves and an identity.
“I’m proud of our overall effort and glad we got the W,” Tar Heels head coach Joe Breschi said. “Everybody was talking about the early season, and I kept telling our guys we were going to get better but it’s going to be one step at a time. We took another step forward without question this week.”
North Carolina found it Friday night. The Blue Jays played harder than a week ago, but they are still looking to find themselves.
“You want to improve and win by one,” Pietramala said. “Our No. 1 focus this week will be on ourselves just as it was a week ago. We can’t give away games.”