For all of the attention opposing defenses pay to Kevin Huntley's hands and stick, the most-improved facet of his game may be his feet.
A daily regimen of running, and limiting sodas and sweets, have helped Huntley drop 15 pounds off his 5-foot-10 frame. The Johns Hopkins senior attackman at one point last season tipped the scales at 205 pounds.
"I feel like I'm moving around better," said Huntley, who said he weighs less than the 190 pounds listed in the team's media guide. "I notice it when I'm running with a defenseman and I actually end up getting some separation like I used to instead of having him on my hands the whole time. And I've also noticed that I'm not huffing and puffing after every dodge I make or after every sprint that I take."
If the No. 8 Blue Jays (3-2) hope to end a two-game skid today at No. 2 Virginia (8-0) at 4 p.m., they could use another four-goal performance from Huntley like he posted against No. 7 Syracuse in the Blue Jays' 14-13 overtime loss last Saturday. Cavaliers coach Dom Starsia, whose team has limited Huntley to one goal in the past two meetings, said containing Huntley is a high priority for his defense.
"When I look at Johns Hopkins, I'm always thinking to myself, `Where is Kevin Huntley?'" Starsia said. "I always feel like he's their most dangerous player. I think everyone has great respect for him. We certainly do."
The weight loss has enhanced Huntley's reputation as a finisher. Huntley, a Calvert Hall graduate who has scored more than 20 goals in each of his first three seasons with the Blue Jays, leads the team this spring with 14 goals. Sophomore attackman Steven Boyle is second with eight goals.
Huntley ranks 23rd in school history with 89 career goals. He is on pace to score 36 goals this season, which would eclipse his previous career-high of 30 in 2006.
ESPN lacrosse analyst Quint Kessenich said Huntley's slimmer frame is noticeable.
"He was carrying too much weight last year, and it impacted his footwork," said Kessenich, a former four-time All-American goalkeeper at Johns Hopkins. "Shooting is 30 percent your feet, 40 percent your hands and shoulders and 30 percent your eyes and your head. His feet were the weak link, but now he's lost 15 or 20 pounds, and it's made a huge difference."
Huntley said the desire to lose weight came from two sources: his coaches and himself.
He said there were times last season when he was too tired or not motivated enough to be more active on the field. He said he began to realize that he was hurting -- rather than helping -- his teammates during those instances.
So Huntley dedicated himself to wrapping up every practice by running an extra mile, and moving around instead of standing around during practice.
Despite Huntley's numbers this spring, his name has only sporadically been brought up in conversations regarding Tewaaraton Trophy candidates.
Coach Dave Pietramala pointed out that observers who harped on Huntley's shooting slump last season rarely discuss his game-winning goal against Duke in the national championship game last May.
"I'm not sure that anybody can live up to expectations these days that people have. But I think Kevin has lived up to our expectations," Pietramala said. "He's been a starter here for 3 1/2 years. That says an awful lot, and he's scored a lot of big goals for us here. So when you look at it that way, he's had a great career here, and I think he's handled whatever pressure that might be on him pretty well."
Huntley said he's not concerned with winning individual honors or being overlooked. He is comfortable with the role he has carved out in Johns Hopkins' offense and is intent on helping the program capture its third national crown in four years.
"I've tried to find my role as best I can, and for me and the way our team plays, I'm not necessarily going to be the guy with the ball in my stick, drawing defensemen and making that happen," Huntley said. "There are guys on this team who are better at that than me. Why not let those guys do what they're good at and let me fill in where I need to be?
"I'm sure everyone sets personal goals, but when it comes down to the end, every last guy wants to do everything he can to help this team win a championship."