For all of those Syracuse fans that have found themselves in a funk due to the sanctions on the basketball team, the Johns Hopkins vs. Syracuse game is your perfect opportunity to bounce out of that...and you'll get some great college lacrosse action as an added bonus.
At 3-3, I honestly did not expect the John's Hopkins Blue Jays to be in this position six games into the season. The only ranked team the Jays have beaten this year came against the #16 Villanova Wildcats. After starting the season by taking down the UMBC Retrievers, Hopkins fell to the #18 Towson Tigers 5-7. Following the win versus Nova, the Jays lost two straight to the #2 North Carolina Tar Heels and the #11 Princeton Tigers. In its last game, Hopkins managed a 13-8 win over the Navy Midshipmen.
While the Blue Jays have a 27-24-1 record against the Syracuse Orange, ‘Cuse has taken seven of the last eight matchups. The last time Syracuse fell to Hopkins at home was back in 2007. Although Johns Hopkins seems to have lost its way, over the years we have seen that records don't really matter in this matchup; it is as good as a rivalry as we have in college lacrosse.
If you would like some notes and statistics on the rivalry between these two teams, check out my post from earlier in the week.
Junior attackman Ryan Brown leads the Blue Jays in goals and points with 21 and 26 respectively. After starting off his career at midfield, Brown made the move to attack his sophomore year and as a natural midfielder he plays well at the top of the box. Last season Brown stuck eight in the back of the net against Syracuse, two coming off quick restarts. This kid is known for his killer shot from out deep that can burn goalies but he can also find open space on the crease and get free for a quick goal off of a pass inside. Syracuse cannot give him any room to breathe and against the zone defense he can find the seam easily and get room to hit the long shots. He is one of the premier attackmen in division I and was recently nominated for the Tewaaraton Trophy.
As the active leader in career points at 159 and career assists at 95, Wells Stanwick has had a monstrous career in which he has started 39 of 48 games; the Johns Hopkins record book is littered with his name. It is not a surprise that Wells is also on the Tewaaraton Watch List. Wells is the younger brother of former Hopkins standout Steele Stanwick and the older brother of current Blue Jay Shack Stanwick. The middle Stanwick likes to play from behind the net, and Hopkins does a lot of picking for him in an effort to get him some room to roll up the crease to make a pass.
Shack Stanwick has gotten two starts at midfield this year, but in the last two games has replaced Wilkins Dismuke on the starting attack line. In his freshman year, Shack has put up 10 goals and seven assists placing him second on the team in both categories. He has an excellent ability to shoot off balance and on the run coming up from below the cage. Dismuke rounds out the attack that Syracuse should see on Saturday. The sophomore from Colorado has four starts at attack and five goals.
Connor Reed is traditionally a very good dodger from which he can create massive one-on-one issues for defenses, but he doesn't put a lot of his shots on cage. Reed is most dangerous when he passes coming through on the dodge. He has the ability to draw the slide and get the pass off to the open man, which is why he had four assists against Duke in the quarterfinals of the 2014 NCAA Tournament and 15 assists in total last year; Syracuse has to be extremely careful of this and must be ready to make the quick second slide anyone who receives a pass from him off of the dodge. This year, Reed has been off to a slow start with just two goals and two assists. His big weakness is turning the ball over, which he has done 22 times in his career. Fellow junior, Holden Cattoni had 29 goals and six assists last year. Freshman Joel Tinney has been a welcome addition to the midfield crew. In his six starts he has eight goals and three assists.
First Team Preseason All-American Michael Pellegrino has for some time locked up the long-stick midfielder position. As a senior, Pellegrino has played in 51 career games and is one of the top LSMs in the country. He has 111 career groundballs and 44 career caused turnovers. Pellegrino is the third Hopkins player nominated to the Tewaaraton Trophy watch list.
There is a platoon of players that Ben Williams could find himself up against at the faceoff circle. That being said, Drew Kennedy is the top faceoff guy for the Blue Jays having matched up at the X 76 times out of the 151 faceoffs attempted by Hopkins. Kennedy is 42 of 76, and 25th in the country, but has only picked up 22 groundballs. Against Navy's Brady Dove, who is 3rd in the country for faceoff winning percentage (Williams is first), Kennedy went 5-11 but versus Princeton he finished 7-17. Kennedy is sitting at a .553 faceoff winning percentage and has never finished a season at less than .527. Hunter Mooreland and Kevin O'Toole have also taken a significant number of faceoffs. Mooreland is 17-29 and O'Toole is 15-30. There is also a chance the Orange will see Pellegrino at the faceoff circle as well. When Kennedy struggled against Princeton, the long-stick midfielder came in for 14 faceoffs and won seven of them, but it was his only game at the X all year. As good as Williams is, it will be a challenge to adapt to each player's style if Hopkins chooses to mix it up.
First off, expect that Robert Enright will not play. Enright left Hopkins' game against the North Carolina Tar Heels with a serious knee injury and has not played since. LSM Nikhon Schuler has been starting at close defense in Enright's place. While he has played in 44 career games, Schuler got his first start this season and so far has picked up nine groundballs and made two caused turnovers. The situation is not optimal for Hopkins. The loss of Enright has left John Kelly as the most experienced defenseman. Starting 15 games last season, Kelly scooped 38 groundballs and caused 12 turnovers. This year he has 16 and 3 respectively. Kelly should be the man on Rice. Playing both LSM and close defense in 2014, sophomore Nick Fields has started every game in 2015 on defense. He has six groundballs and four caused turnovers.
This is not a team that causes a lot of turnovers, in fact they rank 49th in D1 in terms of CTs.
Eric Schneider has had a fall from last year. As a graduate student this year, Schneider has a less than stellar .444 save percentage and has allowed 56 goals, most notably giving up 16 goals to Princeton in an overtime game. Although he ranks near the bottom in division I in save percentage and saves per game, he has a very respectable 9.48 goals against average.
The Orange will take on rival Johns Hopkins Blue Jays as they return to the Carrier Dome on Saturday at 2 pm. The game can be seen on ESPNU and heard on WTKW 99.5 FM. Of course you can also follow me @Orangelax for updates throughout the game.