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2016 Johns Hopkins Men's Lacrosse Preview

Feb. 7, 2016

After winning the inaugural Big Ten Men's Lacrosse Tournament and advancing the national semifinals last season, Johns Hopkins has its sights set even higher in 2016. Despite the need to revamp things on the defensive end of the field and replace one of the great all-time attackmen in school history, head coach Dave Pietramala's 2016 team has the same lofty goal that every Blue Jay lacrosse team has -- win a national championship.

To reach that goal, the Blue Jays will rely heavily on a dynamic tandem on attack, an experienced midfield and an emerging faceoff unit as a talented, but inexperienced, defensive unit comes together.

Below is a position-by-position breakdown of the 2016 Blue Jays-

Attack
Any conversation about the fortunes of Johns Hopkins has to begin with a discussion about senior attackman Ryan Brown. Brown earned Second Team USILA All-America, Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year and First Team All-Big Ten honors a year ago. The main beneficiary of the passing exploits of Wells Stanwick, who took his 124 career assists with him when he graduated last spring, Brown scored a school-record 61 goals and added 16 assists for 77 points last season. One of the best pure shooters in recent college lacrosse history, Brown enters his final year with 118 career goals and will carry a 34-game goal-scoring streak into the season.

Brown will still be taking passes from a Stanwick, but it will be sophomore Shack Stanwick doing the feeding in 2016. Shack Stanwick burst on the scene last year with a 28-goal, 23-assist effort that made him the first Hopkins freshman to top the 50-point mark in more than 20 years. His continued development will be essential as a third attackman emerges and teams focus on Brown.


 

 

Junior Wilkins Dismuke is the most experienced player in a three-man battle for the other starting spot on attack. Joining Dismuke in that battle are freshmen Alex Concannon and Kyle Marr.

Dismuke played in 13 games with four starts last season and scored five goals on just 12 shots (.417). Concannon and Marr have both been in impressive in preseason scrimmages and team with Dismuke to give the Blue Jays talented depth. All three figure to see significant time as the season progresses.

Senior Liam Giblin, who is battling back from an off-season injury, and freshmen Henry Grass and Jake Fox, could also see time on attack. Giblin has played in 14 games in his career, while Grass and Fox were both among the top 40 freshmen in the nation as ranked by Inside Lacrosse. Grass could also figure into the rotation at midfield.

Midfield
The Blue Jays must replace Connor Reed and Joel Tinney, who both ran on Hopkins' first midfield last season, but will miss the 2016 season. While the loss of Reed and Tinney presents a challenge, Pietramala's "next man up" philosophy has prepared many for the increased role they will assume.

Senior Holden Cattoni and junior John Crawley are the returning headliners at midfield and figure to be the anchors of the top two units, in whatever combination the Blue Jays utilize.

The sharp-shooting Cattoni scored 23 goals and added five assists last season and counts 58 goals and 14 assists to his credit for his career. He is adept at working the inside and has 19 career extra-man goals.

Crawley figures to make the jump to the first midfield this season after playing in all 18 games on the second unit a year ago. Despite not starting a game last season, Crawley finished fifth on the team in scoring with 21 goals and 11 assists and is also a featured part of the Blue Jays' extra-man unit. He earned a spot on the NCAA's All-Tournament Team after scoring four goals against Maryland in the semifinals.

Two other returnees from the second midfield, juniors Cody Radziewicz and Kieran Eissler, are being counted on to increase their production.

Radziewicz is comfortable playing from in front of or behind the goal and emerged as a solid scoring threat late last season to finish the year with nine goals and two assists. Eissler is a strong time-and-room shooter and scored four goals with one assist as a sophomore. With 60 career combined games played between them, they are one of the most experienced second-line tandems in the nation and work well together.

An emerging presence at midfield this season could be sophomore Patrick Fraser, who opened eyes last season as a key member of a Johns Hopkins extra-man unit that produced 38 goals. All of Fraser's 13 points (11g, 2a) came on extra-man, but he has shown the ability to play more in six-on-six situations. His knack of stretching the defense from the left side creates matchup issues for the opposition, which can't afford to not extend out as he scored on 11 of the 15 shots he put on cage last season.

Four sophomores, Thomas Guida, Brinton Valis, Sam Lynch and Drew Pirie, are among the returning players battling for additional time at midfield this season. Each of the four saw limited action a year ago and could fill a role on the second midfield or form the nucleus of a third unit.

Freshman Drew Supinski, the fourth-ranked recruit in the nation according to Inside Lacrosse, could see immediate time on one of the top midfield units after an impressive fall and showings in early-season scrimmages. He settled in quickly among the top returning midfielders and was recently named to the United States Under-19 Team.

Another freshman, Jack Olson, is also among the players who figure into a rotation for a spot on the third midfield, which offensive coordinator Bobby Benson has been known to use, especially early in the season.

Defense
It's not a secret that the Blue Jays' biggest loss in personnel came on the defensive end of the field, where two starters on close defense, the starting pole, a top short-stick defensive middie and a man-down specialist must all be replaced. Luckily for Blue Jay fans, the program is led by Pietramala, who is generally considered the greatest defensive player in college lacrosse history.

Junior Nick Fields returns as the headliner and leader after grabbing Honorable Mention All-Big Ten honors last season. As he did in 2015, Fields will routinely draw the assignment of marking the opposition's top attackman; his ability to win that matchup is crucial to the overall success of the Blue Jay defense.

Ben Kellar comes to Johns Hopkins from Bucknell after earning First Team All-Patriot League honors last season. Kellar, a graduate student, has significant playing experience at the college level, but needs to make the adjustments necessary to play in Pietramala's defense. He provides a physical presence down low and should get more comfortable as the season progresses.

Senior co-captain Matt O'Keefe and freshman Patrick Foley also figure into the team's plans on close defense. O'Keefe is the emotional leader of the group and is poised to see the most extensive playing time of his career, while Foley, who also recently earned a spot on the United States Under-19 Team, has been impressive since arriving at Homewood and will see extensive time early in the season.

Among the others who figure into the team's plans on defense are senior Eddie Morris, juniors Riley DeSmit and Trevor Koelsch and sophomore Sam Bamigboye.

Arguably the biggest loss on defense was long stick middie Michael Pellegrino, a two-time All-American and the unquestioned emotional leader at that end of the field. Pellegrino was a tireless worker who played in 63 games over the last four years; he will not be easily replaced.

Senior co-captain Derrick Kihembo, junior Austin Spencer and freshman Robert Kuhn have all gotten extensive looks at the pole and each figures to play a role this season.

Kihembo was second on the depth chart here last season and played in 15 games behind Pellegrino, while Spencer was a two-year regular on defense at UMass before transferring to Johns Hopkins last summer. He has a good stick -- as evidenced by his 80 ground balls and 23 caused turnovers for the Minutemen -- and could see time at close defense and as a long stick middie.

Kuhn has opened the eyes of the coaching staff with his athleticism and ability to make plays and will see time early in the season.

Freshman long stick Cam Hyde is working his way back from an injury suffered in high school, but has the ability to contribute when healthy.

Junior Joe Carlini has been a regular as a short stick defensive middie since arriving and is now the leader of that group. Carlini became more of an offensive threat last season with four assists to his credit and also totaled 21 gorund balls and 10 caused turnovers. In Johns Hopkins' defensive system, the value of an experienced defensive middie who is strong in transition can't be overstated.

Sophomores Tal Bruno and Chris Hubler and freshmen Lane Odom, Danny Jones and Ryan Coulter, along with senior Kelton Black, could all see time alongside Carlini.

Bruno played in 12 games as a freshman last season and has the physical tools to be an asset in settled and unsettled situations, while Hubler played in a pair of games as a rookie, but appears poised to assume a much greater role in 2016.

Odom and Jones have both flashed an athleticism that is hard to teach and could be mainstays on this unit for the next four years as they continue to grow and learn the system. Coulter is playing his most extensive lacrosse in several years after spending a significant amount of time playing ice hockey. While still adjusting back to lacrosse, his raw ability should pay dividends down the road.

Black, who scored the game-opening goal in the Big Ten Championship game victory against Ohio State last season, has been hampered by an off-season injury. His ability to return to full strength would be a big plus as he is the only senior at the position.

Goalies
A three-man battle emerged for the starting spot as the Blue Jays look to replace Eric Schneider, who started 33 games in his career and played a majority of the minutes last season.

Senior Will Ryan, sophomore Brock Turnbaugh and freshman Hunter Sells carried their battle from the fall into the spring and each has made a compelling argument for the job. The three are benefiting from the addition of Larry Quinn to the coaching staff. Quinn was a two-time national player of the year and two-time national champion starter in goal for the Blue Jays during his career from 1982-85; he is on the short list of the greatest goalies in Johns Hopkins history.

Ryan is easily the most experienced of the three as he played in 10 games and got two starts last season. He helped jump-start JHU's late-season seven-game winning streak with a nine-save performance in a double-overtime win against Penn State and provides a vocal presence in goal.

Turnbaugh saw action in just one games as a freshman, but has been steady and effective throughout the preseason and has shown tremendous progress. He tracks the ball very well and has worked hard on improving the areas of his game that needed attention.

Sells is the number two ranked freshman goalie in the nation according to Inside Lacrosse and has routinely flashed the ability that led to that lofty ranking during his brief time at Homewood. Earning the starting job in goal at Johns Hopkins as a freshman isn't easy, but Sells has worked his way into serious consideration.

Junior Ryan Feit and senior Jack Connelly provide depth in goal. Both were Academic All-Big Ten selections a year ago, while Connelly provides a valuable left-handed look in the cage.

Faceoffs
Pietramala is confident that he has four players capable of succeeding at the faceoff X this season. A year ago, Hopkins won just 52.2% of its faceoff attempts; with a revamped defense in place this season, a jump in production will be necessary as that unit develops.

Senior Craig Madarasz and sophomore Hunter Moreland figure to lead the way here for the Blue Jays. Madarasz missed the entire season a year ago, but won 22-of-42 faceoffs and added 18 ground balls and one goal as a sophomore in 2014. He has the ability to get the ball out quick and jump-start things on offense; this was a sorely missed ability last season and one that should pay dividends this year.

Moreland emerged last season as one of the top young faceoff specialists in the nation as he won 111-of-202 (.550) and added 45 ground balls and one assist. He will team with Madarasz to give the Blue Jays a solid one-two punch at the X.

Juniors Kevin O'Toole and Matt Ledwin handled the faceoff chores in the fall when Madarasz and Moreland were working their way back from injuries. O'Toole won 16-of-34 faceoffs last season and fueled a win at Villanova with a 9-of-13 effort in a crucial early-season win against the Wildcats. Ledwin played in three games last season, but is pushing hard for an increased role.

The Schedule
Johns Hopkins will be challenged out of the gate with three in-state rivalry games -- all on the road. The Blue Jays will then return home for four straight before hitting the road at Virginia in late March prior to the start of Big Ten play.

The home schedule is, quite simply, the best in college lacrosse this season as North Carolina, Princeton, Towson, Syracuse, Ohio State and Maryland will all visit Homewood in 2016, while Hopkins will also host the Big Ten Tournament in early May.

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