Pietramala Insists No pressure on Johns Hopkins—from Edward Lee at Insidelacrosse.com

The release of the NCAA’s first RPI list confirmed what many had suspected of Johns Hopkins. The program — which is ranked No. 22 in RPI, a tool that the NCAA selection committee will use to determine the at-large teams in the 16-team field — needs a quality win and a prime opportunity will take place this Saturday when the Blue Jays, who are ranked No. 15 in the Nike/Inside Lacrosse Media Poll, visit No. 1 Maryland (8-1) at Byrd Stadium in College Park.

At this point, Johns Hopkins, which is 6-4 after losing three of its last four contests, could use any victory, but coach Dave Pietramala insisted that the team isn’t feeling the heat from possibly missing the NCAA tournament for the first time in school history.

“Do I feel like we’re backed into a corner? No, I feel like we’ve got a lot of lacrosse left,” he said Wednesday morning. “I think we’ve got the No. 1 team in the country [in the Terps, who are ranked atop several polls]. What a great opportunity for us. And I said this the other day, but a lot is going to unfold over the next four weeks, and we can’t make the mistake of prognosticating. What we can do is control what we can control, which is our focus on the University of Maryland, our focus on practicing well, and hopefully, starting to play our best lacrosse and better lacrosse as we move forward. Is it an important game? Sure, because you’re playing the No. 1 team, and a win over the No. 1 team puts you in a very good position. But the nice part is, if you look at the schedule, there’s a lot on the table still. For this team, the only thing on the table is the University of Maryland.”

After the team’s 10-9 loss to No. 12 Albany last Friday night, senior defenseman Tucker Durkin indicated that the players are treating the remaining four games on the Johns Hopkins’ schedule as playoff-type contests. Pietramala didn’t necessarily disagree with that sentiment, but he maintained that the coaches and players must concentrate only on the Terps.

“From a coach’s standpoint, everything is singular in focus, and we want to focus in on one thing, and that’s Maryland,” he said. “When you play a rivalry game like this, it might as well be a playoff game. It has playoff emotion and intensity. In response to what Tucker said, after a loss, you want to go and you want to perform well. You want to play your best lacrosse at the end of the year. So for us, we do need to approach this as, we’ve got to play well. We’ve played well enough to win games, but we just haven’t done it for a number of reasons. It’s now late in the season, and there’s one month left. You want to start to play your best lacrosse, and your best lacrosse is what playoff lacrosse is. So from our standpoint, we’re going to need to play our best lacrosse to beat the No. 1 team in the country. From our standpoint this week, it’s been singular in focus. It’s been Maryland, it’s been improving every day in practice, and it’s been that approach each day.”

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