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The newspaper of The Johns Hopkins University February 26, 2007 | Vol. 36 No. 23
2007 LAX Season: Bring It On

Coach Dave Pietramala and the Blue Jays lacrosse team prepare for the season on a snow-rimmed Homewood Field.
Photo by Will Kirk / HIPS

Blue Jays head to M&T Bank Stadium this week for powerhouse matchup

By Greg Rienzi
The Gazette

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 NCAA titles.

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 Four.

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 good enough."

"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 to win."

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 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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