The hope at Johns Hopkins was its typically rigorous schedule and a two-game winning streak to cap the season would earn the Blue Jays a top-four seed in the NCAA tournament.
Hopkins did even better, collecting the No. 2 seed and a date with Stony Brook (7-9) on Sunday in the first round.
“I think when it popped up, there was a level of surprise,” coach Dave Pietramala said.
There would be no complaints. Not after the Blue Jays (11-3) meandered through much of April in a funk after an impressive start to the season.
Slow stretches come and go, usually more amplified at Homewood than anywhere else in the sport. But here is Hopkins, at home in the first round and only with a short trek to Annapolis for a potential quarterfinal the following week.
It’s not a bad situation. Then again, it’s a familiar one for the Blue Jays, who will appear in their 41st consecutive postseason. The second-longest active streak is Maryland with 10.
“For us, maybe more than anything, we’re proud this the 41st straight year [Hopkins is in],” Pietramala said. “That’s a record in any Division I sport. That’s phenomenal. For us, it’s an understated achievement.”
Pietramala is well aware his fanbase isn’t quick to embrace understated achievements. Hopkins’ last final four run came in 2008. Its last title was in 2007. Yes, there are some Blue Jays supporters unhappy about a five-year “drought.”
Could it end in the next three weeks? Certainly, especially with Hopkins asserting itself in the last two weeks.
“I think we’re excited,” Pietramala said. “I got that sense. You could get a tangible when they announced us that there was a tangible sense of excitement. I still think we have yet to play our best lacrosse. I think we have yet to play 60 minutes and still haven’t had a game where everybody shows up. I do believe our best lacrosse is ahead of us. Will we get there? Will we play our best lacrosse? This is the time to do it.”
—- Patrick Stevens