Siena at Johns Hopkins: Three things to watch

Johns Hopkins kicks off the season locally with its season opener against Siena. The No. 5 Blue Jays have won all previous four meetings with the Saints and are 10-2 in season openers under coach Dave Pietramala. In addition, Johns Hopkins is 13-3 in February and has not lost to an opponent this month in its last nine games. Here are a few factors that could influence the outcome at Homewood Field in Baltimore Friday evening.

1) Use the emotion. Since an 11-5 loss to Maryland in the NCAA tournament quarterfinals, the Blue Jays have had nine long months to think about what could have been. After all, they were the No. 2 seed, the only team in the field to upend top-seeded Loyola, and one of the favorites to capture the national championship. That memory – along with the excitement of a new season’s beginning – should fuel the players, Pietramala said. “These young guys, they want to play games,” he said. “They’ve done that for three years, and for many of them that have played for us for three years, this is their senior year. I think they want to put the bad taste of last season’s end out of their mouth, and that will take some time. But it’s very obvious that they’re excited to get back to Homewood Field and play.”

2) Don’t underestimate Siena’s offense. The Saints went 11-5 last year, claiming the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference’s regular-season title before falling to Canisius in the league’s tournament final and missing out on a chance to earn a berth in the NCAA tournament. Siena graduated attackman Bryan Neufeld (37 goals and 39 assists) and midfielders Chris Roth (35, 14) and Chris D’Alberti (20, 9), but Pietramala said Johns Hopkins still must pay close attention to senior attackman Danny Martinsen (33, 29) and junior attackman Colin Clive (31, 6). “[W]hat you’ll see is probably Colin Clive and Danny Martinsen kind of pick up a little bit more of the weight,” Pietramala reasoned. “When you lose a guy like Neufeld, I don’t think just one person steps into the fray and reveals himself as the guy that’s going to replace Neufeld. I think what happens is that production that he had gets distributed amongst other players, and each guy picks up a little piece of it. So I think you’ll see Colin Clive and Martinsen pick up a little bit more of the load.”

3) Johns Hopkins’ faceoffs. Siena also bid farewell to starting goalkeeper Tom Morr, who recorded a 9.55 goals-against average and a .543 save percentage and accounted for 936 of the team’s 960 minutes in the net last year. Senior Matt Sharp is expected to get the start, but he has played in just four contests in his career. Still, Pietramala stressed that he’s not looking for his players to take the first shot that presents itself against Sharp. “You need to take good shots,” he said. “The biggest mistake you can make is to go into a contest with a kid whom you haven’t seen a lot of and whom you don’t have a lot of tape on and just say, ‘All right, we’re just going to throw the ball at the goal.’ I think we’ve got to take good, high-percentage shots. I think we’d like to put some pressure on him early. I think that’s important any time you’re facing a new goalie.”

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