Johns Hopkins’ season ended last weekend in the NCAA Tournament, losing to Duke, but the year of experience that the Jays have acquired has the ability to catapult the team in 2018 ahead of the pack.
The Jays stormed out of the gate winning their first four games of 2017. The thriller against Loyola and workman-like effort against North Carolina were signs that Hopkins was hoping for a push to Championship Weekend. Then the next three weeks drove the team off course.
The Princeton defeat was an outing that the team would like to forget, but it was still the second of three consecutive, tough road games that the Jays had to endure. Coach Nadelen’s Towson Tigers got the best of his alma mater, winning convincingly 13-8. Next Syracuse would score in OT to win at Homewood, drawing the Jays to 4-3 on the year.
In championship years of Hopkins past, teams have played difficult schedules, lost back to back games, and made a run to the title with the same model. In what has always been an exciting contest, the Jays got back to their winning ways when they faced Virginia and Rutgers, respectively.
After two more wins to clinch an entrance into the Big Ten Tournament, the Jays faced Maryland in the NCAA’s top-tier rivalry. Hopkins would face a large deficit early and never be able to catch traction the remainder of the season.
Next they would face Ohio State, again starting slow, and were not able to catch the Buckeyes to get to the Big Ten title game. After three losses in the final five games of the season, the wind was not favoring Hopkins sails into NCAA tournament play, where they found Duke to be the team who had found their traction and was playing better than their record reflected.
What we expected:
Junior attackman Shack Stanwick has had a point in every game of his college career, now entering the final year of eligibility for this generation of Stanwicks. As the quarterback of the offense, Stanwick has the ball in his stick a great deal. He is able to distribute and score with the best of them. Surprisingly, he had more goals than assists for a team that nearly averaged 12 goals a game.
Secondly, Hopkins extra-man offense is lethal. Shooters like Kyle Marr (So), Patrick Fraser (Jr) and Joel Tinney (Jr) have no problem getting opportunities with Stanwick’s vision. Fraser continues his uncanny ability to score during EMO opportunities.
What we did not expect:
Marr had one of the best mid-seasons in the NCAA. In consecutive games against Virginia and Rutgers, he had at least five goals and five points in each. His highest point total for a game was nine (three goals, six assists). No one believed that Marr was not a good player, but a tear like this through Hopkins schedule was impressive for a sophomore getting his first extended starting experience.
Stressing the importance of continuity at goalie and face-offs can be seen through Hopkins’ season.
People can look at the statistics and point blame on these two areas as Hopkins’ weakness, which is unfair to the personnel. Brock Turnbaugh earned back the starting position at goalie and spearheaded a very inexperienced unit that lacked depth. Unlike the midfield, the defensive personnel was already missing one of its key returning players and relied heavily on Nick Fields to control the opposing attack.
The quantity of shots that Turnbaugh and Logan saw this season were in close, leaving little chance for saves. This would be difficult for any goalie to find rhythm. Turnbaugh played extremely well as he replaced Gerald Logan, but he could only manage the rough waters and never had full control. Inexperience at defense hurt his ability to get shots at a distance.
Hunter Moreland never being 100% hurt the Jays as the season progressed. He missed the first few games of the year, came back as best he could, but the difficult schedule and grinding of face-offs took their toll. The team played inspired lacrosse behind him. Tinney ground out ground balls on the wing to help his teammate. Robert Kuhn played extremely well at long stick midfield, even scoring six goals, adding three assists.
What Hopkins loses to graduation:
Joe Carlini – who had four years of experience leading the defensive midfield. He was valuable between the restraining boxes and communicated defensive assignments. His replacements will be Tal Bruno stepping to the lead and Daniel Jones playing even more next season.
Cody Radziewicz – who emerged on the first line midfield for 18 points (13 goals, 5 assists). He saw a lot of minutes during this time on campus and could make a defense rotate, which is always key for offensive production.
Kieran Eissler – a midfielder who was the one of the most consistent players for coach Pietramala over his career. He flirted with the first line midfield, but spent his time on the second, anchoring it as long as he has been at Homewood.
Wilkins Dismuke – the starting attackman behind Marr and Stanwick. His production dipped in the middle of the season, but he scored some big goals for the Jays during his career.
Nick Fields – will be the toughest to replace. Rangy and quick, Fields was a tenacious on-ball defender. Another anchor along with Carlini on defense, he will be an All-American selection again this spring. He had the trust of the coaching staff to go out and play against the opponent’s best players. Who will replace him has a fall practice schedule to decide.
John Crawley – known as the most clutch player in recent memory for Hopkins, Crawley’s leadership will be missed. He was a player that any coach in the nation would have had leading their midfield. The two-time captain took command of the ship when he was on the field and in the locker room. Are there any young Jays ready to fill those qualities that are needed in successful teams?
If Hopkins is going to win it in 2018, they will need:
Complimentary scoring to their seniors. When you see the championship teams of the past, they have had seniors across the line-up, but also a sophomore class adding the depth required to make a run deep into May.
The list of seniors in 2018 include: Stanwick, Tinney, Fraser, Moreland, Turnbaugh, and Bruno.
The list of sophomores in 2018 include: Cole Williams, who is a physical force on the field, Forry Smith, who earned a lot of time as a rookie, and Jack Rapine, who started at defense.
If the team comes back healthy and with a chip on their shoulder, Hopkins can return to Championship Weekend.