Made it up to Baltimore last night for Johns Hopkins’ lacrosse opener, a nice Friday night respite from the swirling thoughts of Maryland basketball.
Some people go to movies (or pop in the latest from Netflix). Some go out to a nice restaurant. I go to fridgid Homewood Field, albeit later than expected.
Still, there were the dulcet tones of Joe Miller and Larry Quinn (an announcing crew that comes highly recommended for knowledge, insight and ability to relay the action on a sport that doesn’t necessarily lend itself to a great radio broadcast), and that took me through a surprising first quarter before finally arriving.
It was 3-2 Siena when I rolled into Homewood. I got to see nine Hopkins goals the rest of the way.
So normalcy was restored, and Hopkins left with an 11-3 victory over a very interesting (if undermanned) team. But most importantly, the Blue Jays got injured defenseman Michael Evans back for their opener.
“Michael Evans brought a lot to the table,” coach Dave Pietramala said. “It’s just good to have him back. He hasn’t been here all preseason. This is the first real lacrosse he’s played.”
Evans might or might not be the best defenseman in the college game. But he might be the most valuable, given how well he fits into Hopkins’ scheme.
Along with Matt Drenan and Sam DeVore on the close defense, long pole Charlie Wiggins (a Maryland transfer), short stick middies Andrew Miller and Dave Spaulding and goalie Mike Gvozden (eight saves), Evans helped Hopkins shut out Siena for the final 45:50.
“He changes the other two guys,” Pietramala said. “He brings a level of emotion to the game. You can see he plays with a lot of intensity. He plays with great energy and picks everybody up.”
A couple other notes of note:
* Siena didn’t take a shot in the third quarter, as Hopkins extended its lead from 4-3 to 8-3.
* Attackman Kyle Wharton nearly doubled his scoring output from all of last season. Primarily an extra-man option, Wharton had three goals for Hopkins. He’s blessed with a wicked-quick shot; it’s just a guessing game as to where the ball is going.
* If there’s an obvious area Hopkins didn’t look particularly good, it was faceoffs. It didn’t take Pietramala long to point out the 7-for-18 performance, and it’s a safe bet he was especially rankled with the four procedure calls. Siena didn’t hurt Hopkins because of it, but Princeton very well may next week.
* Siena’s followed the trend throughout the sport, adding a Canadian attackman to work on the crease. Bryan Neufeld apparently didn’t have to bring his stick above his shoulder to shovel his two goals past Gvozden in the first quarter.
* It’s unfair to bury a team when there’s a clear disparity in talent, and in this case there is really no need to even think about it. Siena played reasonably decent defense (even without goalie Brent Herbst, who led the nation in goals against average last season), and there are some parts on offense that should work better against more comparable teams.
The Saints beat Harvard, Loyola and St. John’s last season, and it would be no surprise if they wind up winning the Metro Atlantic and shipping off to the Carrier Dome for the first round of the NCAA tournament.
* Oh, as a side note, yes, it was cold last night —- but no where near as raw as this night four years ago, which was invoked by more than one person at Homewood last night.
—- Patrick Stevens