Postscript from Johns Hopkins at Maryland

No. 15 Blue Jays' 7-4 upset of No. 4 Terps on Saturday figures to put Johns Hopkins back in conversation for NCAA tournament

April 14, 2013|By Edward Lee, The Baltimore Sun

No. 15 Johns Hopkins’ 7-4 upset of No. 4 Maryland on Saturday at Byrd Stadium in College Park has the potential to be a turning point for the program, which had just labored through a four-game stretch in which it had lost three times – including two in a row.

But senior midfielder John Ranagan, who sparked the Blue Jays (7-4) with a three-point effort on two goals and one assist, did not take the bait on articulating the significance of the victory over the Terps.

“I’m not really sure,” he said. “They’re just the No. 1 team. Like every game, we prepare like we’re going to win. This week, we really listened to Coach [Dave Pietramala]. We had a great game plan and we went out and executed it.”

Ranagan’s reticence is not surprising considering that Pietramala is renowned for avoiding peeking into a crystal ball. But it’s difficult to overlook how critical Saturday’s win was for Johns Hopkins.

The Blue Jays had an RPI of No. 22 in the first list released by the NCAA early last week, and their best wins came against No. 24 Virginia (5-7) and No. 26 Towson (7-6). Maryland’s rating was No. 4 – although that is expected to change when the second list is publicized later this week.

Many analysts had predicted that if Johns Hopkins had lost Saturday, the team would not have earned an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament even if it had swept its last three contests against Navy, No. 8 Loyola and Army. Now the Blue Jays figure to be a solid piece of that conversation.

Pietramala did not want to make too much of the impact of the win against the Terps.

“I think we’ve shown flashes of what we can do,” he said. “I just think the most consistent thing about us is we’ve been inconsistent. I always use to say that the one-goal wins were about the little details. The fact that we won a game this way, that it was tight … I think those moments have helped us, but do I think this is the turning point? I have no idea. We’ve got to show we can turn around and handle success now. We sure didn’t do it after Virginia [on March 23]. So we have to show that we can do it now.”

The victory would seem to lift a burden off the players and coaches, but Pietramala declined to play psychologist.

“I don’t know. That’s for you guys to decide,” he said. “You guys are the ones talking about us winning and not winning and making the playoffs. The way we’ve approached it and the way we thought of this was, this is a chance to play the No. 1 team in the country, and it was a wonderful opportunity. We could look at it one of two ways. We just lost a heartbreaking game – two in a row – and now we’ve got to play them? Or we could look at it and say, ‘We lost two in a row, and this is a third one of those games, and the best one of all because this is a great opportunity for us.’ That’s exactly the way we approached it.”

Other notes:

* For the second game in a row, the Johns Hopkins defense hampered one of Division I’s most prolific offenses. Albany, which had led the country with 15.1 goals per game, scored just 10 in a one-goal win on April 5. Maryland, which had averaged 13.1 goals, was limited to just four. Senior defenseman Tucker Durkin, who shut out Great Danes sophomore attackman Lyle Thompson and allowed just one assist to Terps senior attackman Kevin Cooper, called Saturday’s defensive effort the best of the season. “I think we really put it together today for most of the game, and I think the biggest difference was, we were all on the same page out there,” he said. “This is obviously a huge game for us, but when we were out there, we were talking to each other and we were all on the same page, especially in the second half. In the first half, we were still getting our feet under us. But in the second half, we were able to communicate what defense we were in and everybody was on the same page. It felt really good.”

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