Johns Hopkins men's coach Dave Pietramala and Albany coach Scott Marr were teammates on the last Blue Jays team to enter a season as defending NCAA champion.
Eighteen years later, a newfound pressure to repeat as champion falls on Pietramala's squad, while Marr's team is forced to find a new identity after graduating 10 players and returning only two seniors.
"It's a proud feeling. I really feel good coming back here and bringing my team back to Hopkins," Marr said. "This is where lacrosse was made."
The second-ranked Blue Jays continued to make history in their home opener yesterday, defeating the feisty, 19th-ranked Great Danes, 10-8, before 1,847 at Homewood Field.
The win was the 37th straight home victory for the Blue Jays, tying an NCAA record.
"To stand here on the same field with Dave, him being the head coach at Hopkins and me being the head coach at Albany, it really doesn't get much better than that," Marr said.
Johns Hopkins (1-0) scored five of the game's first six goals before going scoreless for nearly 23 minutes. The Great Danes (0-1) kept their composure and battled back in the fourth quarter, scoring five goals and forcing eight Blue Jays turnovers before running out of time.
"I don't think people should expect us to blow people out. We are not like that right now. We played against a very good team," Pietramala said. "I'm just excited that we got a win over a playoff team."
Johns Hopkins was led by sophomores Kevin Huntley and Paul Rabil, who scored three goals apiece.
"I am not upset with this outcome," Pietramala said. "We got a good lead and they battled back. It was good for us to have to respond to that and we did."
Albany (0-1), the three-time America East champion, relied on a strong zone defense backed by junior transfer goalie Brett Queener (14 saves).
Queener was an All-America goalie last season for National Junior College Athletic Association champion Herkimer County (N.Y.) Community College.
"For our goalie, this is his first [Division I] college game," Marr said. "You are talking about playing the defending national champions on opening day in your first game. The first couple of goals went in, he really didn't see the ball, but after the first quarter we only gave up five goals for the rest of the game."
The Blue Jays began the game with three quick goals, two coming off the stick of Huntley (Calvert Hall). The Great Danes answered with a goal from Merrick Thomson (three goals, one assist) at the 10:56 mark of the first quarter.
Off the ensuing faceoff, Huntley beat Queener with a bounce shot to complete a hat trick in 59 seconds.
"It is always easy to get going when you have guys like Greg Peyser [one goal, two assists] bringing the ball down off the faceoffs to us. All we have to do is throw the ball in the net," said Huntley, who finished with two assists to cap a game-high five-point performance.
Both teams were scoreless in the second quarter. Johns Hopkins junior goalie Jesse Schwartzman (Pikesville) recorded 12 saves in the victory.
This was the first time Hopkins had opened its season against Albany and only the second time since 1990 that the Blue Jays started a season against an opponent other than Princeton.
"With Princeton playing one week earlier, we agreed to play one week earlier," said Pietramala, who won his fifth straight season opener. "I thought this was a great game for us to play before Princeton."
Albany 1 0 2 5 -- 8
Johns Hopkins 5 0 2 3 -- 10
Goals: A--Thomson 3, Resetarits, Small, Dale, Levine, Queener; JH--Huntley 3, Rabil 3, Byrne 2, Peyser, Christopher. Assists: A--Resetarits 3, Thomson; JH--Huntley 2, Peyser 2, Koesterer. Saves: A--Queener 14; JH--Schwartzman 12.