M. Lacrosse has high expectations this season

By JARRETT SMITH | February 7, 2019

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HOPKINSSPORTS.COM

Every Memorial Day, men’s lacrosse comes to a close, and teams turn the page to a new season. New faces come, old faces return and valuable faces leave. The fall and summer become endless, as the anticipation of the first game of the season grows ever larger. 

For the 2019 Blue Jays, the anticipation will come to a head on Saturday, Feb. 9 during a matchup with crosstown rival Towson University and once again on Saturday, Feb. 16 during the Battle of Charles Street against Loyola University Maryland. Two weeks, two rivalry games, a schedule that will force the Blue Jays to come out of the gate firing in 2019. 

The Jays will do so while trying to replace a talented senior class with a significant amount of experience and a dash of youth. This year’s freshman class was ranked fifth in the nation by Inside Lacrosse and is headlined by the nation’s number one overall recruit, attacker Joey Epstein. 

The attack will return two of the three starters from last year’s squad, senior attacker Kyle Marr and junior attacker Cole Williams, while losing Shack Stanwick, a starter for the Blue Jay lineup last year. Junior attacker Forry Smith will fill the shoes left by Stanwick, while Epstein should get a look as well. 

The midfield loses a major piece in Joel Tinney. However, Alex Concannon, Danny Jones and Robert Kuhn will all return for their senior campaigns. Sophomore midfielder Connor DeSimone and freshman midfielder Evan Zinn will be some of the underclassman contributors that will try and fill the void left by Tinney. 

The defense will have its hands full this season, as it will face four attackers included on the Inside Lacrosse Player of the Year Watchlist. Fortunately for the Jays, this is their most experienced group, with all three of their defensive starters returning — senior Patrick Foley, junior Jack Rapine and junior Owen Colwell. Sophomore Kyle Prouty is in line to fill Hunter Moreland’s face-off duties, and fellow sophomore goalie Ryan Darby seems to be positioned to replace Brock Turnbaugh between the pipes.

The Jays come into the season ranked No. 7 in the Inside Lacrosse media poll and were picked to win the Big Ten Championship. But a daunting schedule awaits. The Jays will play 10 out of their 13 games against teams that are ranked in the preseason Inside Lacrosse media poll, with six out of those 10 matchups coming on the road. The road schedule is highlighted by a return to the Carrier Dome at No. 10 Syracuse University, where the Jays dominated the Orange last year 18-7 and a late April trip to College Park to take on the No. 3 University of Maryland Terrapins. 

The Maryland game will be the 118th meeting between the schools dating back to 1895. Maryland and Hopkins split the 2018 series as Maryland’s then-junior Will Snider broke Blue Jay hearts with a rip just past Turnbaugh’s left shoulder in the third overtime period to give Maryland the win and the 2018 Big Ten Regular Season Championship. However, the Blue Jays returned the favor the following weekend, as they beat the Terrapins 13-10 in the Big Ten Tournament Championship. 

The remaining five road games are against previously mentioned Towson University, No. 15 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, No. 17 Princeton University, No. 20 University of Michigan and No. 19 Pennsylvania State University. Hopkins crushed North Carolina two years ago in Chapel Hill, while it dropped a close game to the Tar Heels at home last year. Princeton will present an interesting matchup for the Blue Jay defense, as it will try to handle a Player of the Year candidate in junior Michael Sowers. Fortunately for the Jays, the Tigers lost Austin Sims — who scored six goals when Princeton last hosted Hopkins two years ago — to graduation this year. The Michigan game will be another intriguing matchup to watch as the Wolverines are an emerging lacrosse program that pushed the Jays in Ann Arbor last year. Lastly, the Penn State game is always crucial in the context of the Big Ten, as the Nittany Lions are consistently contenders in the Big Ten. The Jays dropped last year’s contest in Happy Valley 14–12.

The 2019 home slate includes some fantastic games, as Hopkins fans and students will be treated to quite a show this spring. The first home game of the season brings the No. 4-ranked Loyola Greyhounds to Homewood, led by 2018 Tewaaraton finalist and 2019 Player of the Year candidate senior Pat Spencer. Last year at Loyola, the Greyhounds used a second half surge to best the Blue Jays in a snowstorm. However, the last time Loyola traveled to Homewood, Tinney scored on a fake flip in overtime that turned the Homewood crowd into a frenzy and secured a 14-13 Jays victory. 

Mount St. Mary’s University and University of Delaware come to town in the following weeks, setting up a huge a game on March 23 against the No. 6-ranked University of Virginia Cavaliers, which will be a rematch of a 15-13 Hopkins victory in Charlottesville in which the Blue Jays overcame a seven-goal deficit in stunning fashion. The Cavaliers, led by third-year Head Coach Lars Tiffany and Player of the Year candidate, junior Michael Kraus, are known for their fast paced, high-octane transition offense, so goals will certainly be aplenty once more. 

The 2019 home schedule is rounded out by matchups against No. 12 Rutgers University and No. 16 Ohio State University. Over the past few years, a rivalry has brewed between Hopkins and Rutgers, with last year’s meeting going the Blue Jays’ way on a last-second Marr goal. The game against the Scarlet Knights on April 6 will certainly provide a nice centerpiece for Homecoming Weekend. The last time Ohio State and Hopkins met, a brawl broke out on the sidelines with multiple players being ejected after Turnbaugh was shoved out of bounds during a clear. While a fight might not be in the cards this year, the game will certainly be a knockdown, drag-out fight on the field, as both teams pride themselves on toughness and strong defense. 

The 2019 season sets up to be a potentially special one for the Blue Jays, and the work has already begun with two scrimmages in the preseason. The Jays downed High Point University 12-8 on Jan. 26 and then traveled to Milwaukee, Wis. for their final scrimmage against Marquette University on Feb. 2. The Blue Jays will look to build on the preseason and come out of the gates flying in 2019 on Feb. 9 against Towson.

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