Fountain of youth does wonders for Blue Jays

Freshmen Boyle, Kimmel lead No. 3 Johns Hopkins in scoring

College Lacrosse

March 17, 2007|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,Sun reporter

It was only a few weeks ago that Johns Hopkins freshman midfielder Michael Kimmel sat in his dorm room with roommate and fellow rookie Steven Boyle, dreaming about the possibilities that seem so modest now.

"I remember us talking before the season about how it would be really cool to get in a game every once in a while, maybe if we have a big lead," Kimmel said. "If we were lucky, maybe one of us would score a goal or have an assist."

Four games into the season, the freshman duo that Blue Jays coach Dave Pietramala has dubbed "Jekyll and Hyde" is way ahead of schedule.

They have started the past three games and have become the top two scorers for No. 3 Hopkins, which renews its rivalry today at fourth-ranked Syracuse (2-2). They perhaps have accounted for more instant impact than any other pair of freshmen during Pietramala's seven seasons as the team's coach.

Kimmel, a Baltimore native who blossomed during his last two years at Loyola High, has abused opposing, short-stick defenders for five goals, 10 points and 62.5 percent shooting.

Boyle, an attackman from Derry, N.H., has drawn a long-stick midfielder ever since he scored his first of three goals against Princeton in a 7-6, double-overtime win before a large crowd at M&T Bank Stadium earlier this month. No problem. He leads the Blue Jays (3-1) with eight goals and 12 points, and might be the best dodging attackman ever to play for Pietramala.

Their personalities mesh as well as their games. Kimmel is as chatty with reporters as he is on the practice field, and already is needling teammates with ease. Boyle's confidence oozes on the field, but he can clam up and squirm when asked to talk about himself.

"Mike is really outgoing. He's sort of a thrasher out there. Steve is quiet, more focused, more like a silent assassin," junior midfielder Paul Rabil said.

"The best part about them is they've got minds like a sponge. They're open to suggestions, and they handle their success the right way. At this point, I don't even look at them as freshmen."

Where would Hopkins be without the kids? Consider that Rabil, senior attackman Jake Byrne, junior midfielder Stephen Peyser and junior attackman Kevin Huntley - the core of the proven offense coming into 2007 - have combined for just 15 goals on 19.2 percent shooting.

"[The veterans] take a lot of pressure off of us. We just try to take advantage of the opportunities they help to create for us," Boyle said. "I think we're still trying to adjust to the speed of the game."

Boyle, whose brother, Brian, is a senior on Penn State's lacrosse team and whose father, Gary, spent 20 years coaching football at the Division I, II and III levels, first surfaced for Division I lacrosse recruiters at the Top 205 Lacrosse Camp.

At that point, he was in the middle of helping Pinkerton Academy go 76-4 in his four years there. Virginia, Syracuse and Princeton came after him, and at the Inside Lacrosse Face-Off Classic, he showed them what they're missing with his first hat trick.

"It was pretty surreal at first, being in front of that big crowd [of 20,180]. But once we got going, it just felt like another lacrosse game," Boyle said.

Kimmel recalled a fall scrimmage against Binghamton, when he got yanked after committing several turnovers.

"I was feeling loose during warm-ups. Then, I looked down and saw `Hopkins' on my jersey, and I've never been so nervous in all my life," said Kimmel, whose grandfather, Frank, is in the Loyola College lacrosse Hall of Fame. "It finally hit me that I was playing for the team I grew up watching."

You might say he's settled down since then. Kimmel, showing the ability to shoot on the run with either hand, has scored on all five of his shots on goal.

"When young guys crash the party, it sometimes can be a problem," said Pietramala, referring to chemistry issues that can arise with older players. "But Steven and Michael have fit right in by grasping the game and being tough on themselves."

Added Rabil: "As long as we're winning, it doesn't matter who's scoring. And if they're going to keep scoring, we're going to keep giving them the ball."

Note -- Syracuse will be without sophomore midfielder Pat Perritt and junior midfielder John Carrozza, who have been suspended indefinitely after being charged earlier this week with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest, after an altercation in front of a nightclub near the campus Sunday night. Perritt is tied for fifth on the team in points (four goals, one assist). Carrozza is considered the best defensive midfielder on the Orange.

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