Pietramala introduced as Hopkins coach

School moves quickly to replace departing Haus

College Lacrosse

June 09, 2000|By Christian Ewell | Christian Ewell,SUN STAFF

When Dave Pietramala was introduced yesterday as the head coach of men's lacrosse at Johns Hopkins, those at the news conference kept speaking of a blur.

They did so because less than two weeks ago, Hopkins intended to soldier on with their coach, John Haus, after a heartbreaking defeat to Syracuse in the national semifinals. The team - with locals such as Pat Miller and Bobby Benson - would choose its captains, and look to build on the two Final Fours it had achieved in the past two years.

"We felt like we'd built a strong foundation over these past two seasons," Miller said.

In upstate New York, Pietramala had designs on a recruiting trip to strengthen a Cornell program he had already taken from a 3-11 record in 1997 to national prominence, a 10-4 season this year and an NCAA tournament berth.

But by the end of last week, Haus had signed on with the North Carolina program, setting the scene for an emotional final team meeting last Saturday. Two days later, there was the counsel from one former Hopkins three-time All-America, Jerry Schnydman, to another, Pietramala: "Time to come home, boy."

The 32-year-old Pietramala took the job Tuesday, giving him little time to notify returning Cornell players before driving to Baltimore with his wife, Colleen, for yesterday's event.

"It's been a blur," Johns Hopkins athletic director Tom Calder said of the time between Haus' departure and the hiring of a new coach. "It happened as soon as it possibly could have."

Cornell moved swiftly, too, yesterday naming Jeff Tambroni to replace Pietramala.

Hopkins' offensive coordinator, Todd Cavallero, is expected to join Haus at North Carolina.

Amid the rubble, it seemed that Brian Voelker's defensive coordinator post at Hopkins was the only thing left standing. A former teammate of Pietramala's, Voelker has been in the job for three years.

Another former teammate, Seth Tierney, entered the picture while on vacation to Baltimore and southern Pennsylvania. Pietramala reached him to inquire about his interest in the offensive coordinator position at Hopkins.

Tierney was interested, so when Pietramala delivered the news that he was coming to Hopkins, some of the sightseeing had to be put on hold.

A Hicksville, N.Y., native, Pietramala came to Hopkins in 1986 and earned National Player of the Year honors in 1989. He has an association with every other coach in the immediate Baltimore area, having played for UMBC's Don Zimmerman, spending one season as an assistant for Loyola's Dave Cottle, then three more (1994-97) under Towson's Tony Seaman when he was at Hopkins.

During his previous time at Hopkins, Pietramala developed the reputation of being a first-rate recruiter, having helped bring in several key players that helped Haus' teams over the past few years. At Cornell, he continued that trend, as two of the players he brought in - Justin Cynor and Ryan McClay - earned All-America honors this season.

On the field, Cornell improved in a short time, and the coach of Ivy League rival and national finalist Princeton had no trouble pinpointing why.

"You get intensity, and you get a team that knows you better than most," Bill Tierney said. "Hopkins is getting the next great coach in lacrosse."

Miller, a former Loyola Prep standout, was happy about the chance to reunite with a coach who had helped recruit him, while McDonough product Benson was happy to see the search process over - "I was going nuts not knowing who our coach was going to be" - and thrilled with the possibilities that Pietramala brings.

"I'm sad for the seniors because it's their third coach, but it's nice for them to play for the coach who recruited them," Benson said.

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