Hopkins dropped Saturday’s contest at Homewood Field against the second-ranked Loyola University Maryland Greyhounds by a score of 18-12. The Blue Jays scored the first goal of the game a little over five minutes into the first quarter, and then it was all Greyhounds from there, scoring five unanswered goals. The Blue Jays only saw mild success when senior attackman Kyle Marr scored two goals in the final 30 seconds of the second quarter and almost had one more at the buzzer to cut the Loyola lead to 9-6. Unfortunately for Hopkins, the Greyhounds scored six unanswered goals out of the half and put the game to bed.
Saturday’s loss comes after a stunning 17-8 loss to the Towson University Tigers on Feb. 9, where Head Coach Dave Pietramala left the game displeased with the team’s effort. The News-Letter asked Pietramala if he saw any improvement in Saturday’s game from the last week.
“I thought our guys were completely opposite today. I don’t think they gave in at all and thought they fought for the whole game. There are no moral victories for us here at Hopkins, but that was an absolute improvement over what we did one week ago,” Pietramala commented.
So, what exactly went wrong on Saturday for Blue Jays? The box score shows that Hopkins and Loyola were about even in almost all categories: shots, shots on goals, ground balls, saves, face-offs and extra-man opportunities. But, in one major category, clears, things went drastically Loyola’s way. Loyola finished 19 of 22 in the clearing game, good for 86 percent. Meanwhile, the Blue Jays finished at 53 percent, going 8 of 15. Anytime the Hopkins defense was able to get a stop against the high-powered Greyhound offense, it seemed the Blue Jays would follow it up with a turnover or a failed clear. The Greyhounds would then turn around, give it to Tewaaraton frontrunner, senior Pat Spencer, and then Pat Spencer did Pat Spencer things.
Spencer finished the game with three goals and four assists, including some behind the back passes that left all the fans in attendance in awe. Coach Pietramala was asked about the Blue Jay approach to Spencer and where it all went wrong.
“I thought our decision making today was really poor. We had a Plan A, a Plan B and a Plan C for him… I thought we made some really poor decisions on when to go to him and when not to go to him,” Pietramala said.
Not to be outdone, Greyhound freshman Chase Scanlan finished the game with an impressive four goals and two assists as well. The Blue Jays have now given up 35 goals through two games in the 2019 season, a statistic that most Hopkins fans would call you crazy if they heard it in the preseason. With that said, this Blue Jay defense is old, experienced and led by a head coach who some consider the best defenseman to ever play the game. If anyone can straighten it out, it’s this group.
Marr responded after a tough performance against Towson with six points of his own, finishing the game with five goals and one assist. Freshman attackman Joey Epstein, in his second collegiate start, looked like the No. 1 overall recruit, scoring or assisting on the first three Hopkins goals of the game. The big crowd and rivalry atmosphere did not phase the young attackman, and he finished the game with three goals and three assists. Epstein becomes the first freshman to have a six-point outing since Blue Jay legend and lacrosse legend Paul Rabil did it in 2005.
A 0-2 start is a tough pill to swallow for a Hopkins team that was projected to have another big year. Right now, things may look bleak, but let’s not forget what happened just a year ago. The Jays went 1-2 in the first three games of the season, beating Towson and losing to Loyola and University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. But the Blue Jays were able to rattle off seven straight wins and a Big Ten Championship. While 1-2 is not up to par at Hopkins, the season is a far cry from being over. After all, as long as you win the Big Ten Tournament, you still get a ticket to the big dance in May and from there, anything can happen.
Marr described the mood in the locker room after dropping to 0-2.
“I think our mood right now is unchanged. We put in a much better week of practice and it’s a group of guys that are not going to fall apart and we’re going to stick together… I think the bond that the guys have together is something that an 0-2 start isn’t going to waver at all,” Marr commented.
Hopkins will try to rebound from this tough start next Saturday when they travel to play No. 14 North Carolina at 12 p.m. In 2017, the last time the Blue Jays traveled to Chapel Hill, they knocked off the Tar Heels 13-5. Last year, however, North Carolina stunned Hopkins at Homewood Field, 13-11, using a five-goal fourth quarter. The Blue Jays will look to return the favor in Kenan Memorial Stadium this year and start a seven-game winning streak of their own.