Johns Hopkins has dominated its Charles Street rival, winning 46 of 49 meetings and the last 12 contests in this series. But the No. 13 Blue Jays (9-3) have dropped three of their last four contests, scoring just three goals in their last six quarters. Loyola (12-0) can set a school record for best start with its 13th consecutive win. And the Greyhounds have lost just once at home in the last two years. Here are a few factors that could play a role in the outcome at Ridley Athletic Complex in Baltimore Saturday.
1) Johns Hopkins’ attentiveness. Generally, the Blue Jays are usually ready to play from the opening faceoff, but that quality will be tested by a Loyola squad that loves to attack in unsettled situations. While that usually includes transition and faceoffs, Johns Hopkins coach Dave Pietramala said the Greyhounds especially enjoy going on the offensive as a team’s six-on-six defense is settling in. “[W]here they are also very dangerous is in the first 20 seconds of a possession when things are not quite organized, not everybody’s on the field,” he said. “They attack you in those quick-strike moments. There is no team right now in the country that is better than them at doing that. They score goals off that way.”
2) Loyola’s clears. The Greyhounds have been one of the best at transitioning the ball from defense to offense, clearing 91.6 percent (229-of-250) of the time. But they struggled in last year’s 8-7 loss to the Blue Jays, failing on 5-of-18 clears. That was an especially sore spot in the second quarter when Loyola misfired on 2-of-3 clears and Johns Hopkins took advantage with a 4-1 period. “Watching the tape from last year, the clearing game is something that we want to have success with,” Greyhounds coach Charley Toomey said. “When we’re capable of getting stops, we need to transition the ball. We’ve been a team that wants to run fast. That’s never changed. But we have to make sure that we take care of the ball and get it down to the offensive end and give them their opportunities. I think they play such
3) Early lead. It’s not a stretch to say that every team enjoys taking an early lead as it allows them to control the game’s tempo and be patient on offense. But ESPN analyst and former Johns Hopkins All-American goalkeeper Quint Kessenich said jumping out early would be more beneficial for the Blue Jays than Loyola. “I think the early lead is extremely important because Johns Hopkins as a team has proven that they’re not built to come back from behind,” Kessenich said. “They’re just not that quick on defense. You saw them fall behind Navy and when Navy spread them out and attacked them with their quick players, Hopkins lacked a certain quickness on defense. If the Blue Jays fall behind, that does not cater to their defensive strengths.”