2007 LAX Season: Bring It On
Coach Dave Pietramala and the Blue Jays
lacrosse team prepare for the season on a snow-rimmed Homewood
Photo by Will Kirk / HIPS
Blue Jays head to M&T Bank Stadium this week for powerhouse
By Greg Rienzi
The Johns Hopkins
men's lacrosse team will
march into M&T Bank Stadium on Saturday at noon to do
battle with longtime rival Princeton in the inaugural
Inside Lacrosse Face-Off Classic. The early-season contest,
part of an eventful 2007 lineup for the Blue Jays, pits two
of the nation's top teams, which, combined, have won 14
Speaking to The Gazette on the eve of the
season, Hopkins head coach Dave Pietramala said the game
poses a major test for his youthful squad. And, he added,
if all falls into place, it won't be the last time this
season his team takes to the Baltimore Ravens' field
— it's the site of this year's NCAA lacrosse Final
Do the Jays have what it takes to go all the way?
Pietramala said that the Princeton game will certainly help
answer that question.
"This will be a playoff-type game in March," said
Pietramala, now in his seventh season as head coach. "But I
feel good about it. We need to play these sorts of games
early in the season. Weaknesses will be exposed, strengths
revealed. You can learn a lot about yourself when you play
such a quality opponent as Princeton, and on such a big
stage in front of what will be a huge crowd."
The Johns Hopkins-Princeton game will be the first of
a star-studded double-header that day at M&T Bank Stadium.
The second game will feature reigning champion Virginia vs.
Syracuse, ranked No. 3 in the pre-season. The undisputed
royalty of the sport, the four teams involved in the new
Face-Off Classic have claimed every NCAA Division I
championship title since 1992.
The Blue Jays' 2007 schedule, which kicked off on
Saturday with a home game against Albany, will once again
arguably be among the nation's toughest. The current
season, which had the earliest start in the school's
history, will also celebrate the 100th anniversary of
Homewood Field. To honor the milestone, the players will
wear commemorative patches on their uniforms all season.
Highlighting the 2007 schedule, the team's longest in
nine years, are games against three teams that advanced to
the 2006 Final Four, Virginia, Syracuse and Maryland, all
of which are ranked in this year's pre-season top five. The
Blue Jays will also play 2006 NCAA tournament qualifiers
Hofstra, UMBC and Navy. Nine of the team's 13 regular
season games will be broadcast nationally on ESPNU.
Steeped in lacrosse history, the Blue Jays have
enjoyed a level of success that is virtually unmatched in
any sport at the collegiate level. Johns Hopkins has
garnered 43 national championships, including eight NCAA
titles, most recently in 2005. The current streak of 35
consecutive appearances in the NCAA tournament ranks as the
longest active streak of qualifying for the NCAAs in any
Division I team sport.
Pietramala said that the team and coaches alike are
eager to begin to get the sour taste out of their mouths
left by last year's relatively disappointing season. In
what was an up-and-down year, the Blue Jays went 9-5 and
lost a heartbreaker (13-12) at the hands of Syracuse in the
NCAA quarterfinals. A win would have punched the ticket to
a fifth straight trip to the NCAA semifinals.
While a winning season and a trip to the NCAAs would
be more than acceptable for most teams, the expectations at
Johns Hopkins are extraordinarily high, Pietramala said.
Evidence of last year's disappointment can be seen in the
team's locker room, a big bold sign that reads "9-5. Not
"Last year we were one goal away from the Final Four,
and we would have made it there if we had done the little
things better, make the plays we needed to make,"
Pietramala said. "That game was indicative of our entire
season; we didn't do the little things consistently enough
The team returns eight starters, players who accounted
for all but 13 of the team's goals last season and a senior
goalie, Jesse Schwartzman, the vocal leader of the team who
has won 27 of his 32 career starts. It also adds a talented
freshman class. In fact, freshmen and sophomores make up 60
percent of the team.
Schwartzman said that the players are eager to put
intrasquad scrimmages behind them and play "someone in a
different jersey." As for the Princeton game, Schwartzman
admits that the seniors on the team are looking forward to
returning to the site of the 2004 Final Four, and the
underclassmen are excited about playing in such a large
venue. Some 15,000 spectators are expected.
All the players, he added, are hungry to put Hopkins
back on top.
"We didn't do our job last year," Schwartzman said.
"Expectations here are just higher than at other places. We
respect our tradition and want to live up to it. It's a
special feeling to put on a Hopkins uniform."
To order tickets to the Face-Off Classic, go to
www.faceoffclassic.com. For more about men's lacrosse
and other Blue Jays sports, go to
Blue Jays 2007 Schedule (TV Airings)
Feb. 24 — Albany, noon. (WMAR, ESPNU)
March 3 — Princeton, noon. (ESPNU)
March 6 — @UMBC, 7 p.m. (MASN)
March 10 — Hofstra, noon. (ESPNU)
March 17 — @Syracuse, 3:30 p.m. (MASN)
March 24 — Virginia, 1 p.m. (WMAR, ESPNU)
March 31 — @North Carolina, 2 p.m.
April 7 — Duke, 1 p.m. (WMAR, ESPNU)
April 14 — @Maryland, 8 p.m. (WMAR, ESPNU)
April 21 — Navy, 3 p.m. (WMAR, ESPNU)
April 28 — @Towson, 1 p.m. (WMAR, ESPNU)
April 30 — @St. Mary's, 4 p.m.
May 5 — Loyola, 1 p.m. (WMAR, ESPNU)
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