March 1, 2014

Brown's Big Day Leads Johns Hopkins Rout of Princeton

by Phil Shore | LaxMagazine.com | Twitter

In-Game Blog Replay

 

Johns Hopkins against Princeton is one of the oldest rivalries in college lacrosse, and as always, there were similarities to the programs that stared each other down on Saturday afternoon: Both teams were undefeated, ranked in the Top 20, and came into the game with some high scoring offenses.

The experienced starting attack unit of the Blue Jays, however, took advantage of a young Tigers defense – Princeton started one sophomore and two freshman on defense – as Johns Hopkins (4-0) won big, 15-9 at Sherrerd Field at Class of 1952 Stadium.

"We played good team lacrosse. I thought we got contributions from everybody," Johns Hopkins head coach Dave Pietramala said. "We shot the ball well early, which we haven't done."

Coming into the game, Johns Hopkins was ranked No. 11 in the Lacrosse Magazine rankings and Princeton (2-1) was No. 5.

Of the 23 points the team had, the starting attack unit of sophomore Ryan Brown, junior Wells Stanwick and senior Brandon Benn accounted for 14 of them. The trio are the top three in points on Johns Hopkins.

Brown had the biggest game with five goals and three assists. His five goals and eight points were both new career-highs.

Just like Pietramala noted good team lacrosse was the key to the game, Brown did not take the credit for his offensive contributions on the day.

"Our team was really getting into our spots well. I was just the beneficiary of open passes and great play by everyone," Brown said. "Really, it was nothing special I did. It was just my teammates ... setting me up for good plays."

Because lacrosse is a team sport, one individual's play is dependent on things like good screens and good off-ball movement to keep the defense honest and from doubling the ball. Still, Brown was able to create his own space and get off his own shot early, scoring two goals in the first quarter, both of which were unassisted.

Hopkins goalie Eric Schneider had 13 saves in the win against Princeton. (Kevin P. Tucker)

Brown got the scoring started one minute and 44 seconds into the game thanks to a nice question mark dodge and a five-hole shot. Princeton came back, taking a 2-1 lead – its only lead of the game – but Brown tied it up rolling around the crease and getting a step on his man.

"Ryan can shoot the ball very well," Pietramala said. "He did a good job when he was called upon to put the ball in the back of the goal."

Brown wouldn't score again until the third period, but thanks to contributions from his teammates, that third goal put the team up 11-5.

He wasn't just the benefactor of good play either. He set up a few of his teammates as well, assisting on goals from Stanwick, Benn, and Rob Guida. It was clear all game that the trio of Brown, Stanwick, and Benn had very good chemistry together.

"I think we're all very similar," Brown said. "We all have really good skill sets. I think we play well off each other."

Stanwick had three goals and two assists, Benn had one goal, and Guida added two goals and two assists.

Princeton switched goalies at halftime, but it didn't matter who was between the pipes for the Tigers. Senior and starter Brian Kavanagh allowed nine goals and made only four saves, while sophomore Matt O'Connor allowed six goals while making only two saves.

"That's the way the offense is designed, to not have one guy you have to focus on. It's to have six guys you have to focus on," Pietramala said. "What [offensive coordinator] Bobby [Benson] has done offensively has put those guys in a position to be successful with their skill set. They're not going to wow you athletically but they are slick lacrosse players. They have good stick work. They have a great IQ for the game. They seem to enjoy playing together. They've kind of grown accustomed to knowing where each other is."

That familiarity with each and lacrosse IQ helped the team to victory, as did what seemed like extra intensity on the Blue Jays end.

On the offensive side of the field the team used quick restarts to their advantage, worked tirelessly off-ball, set numerous screens for each other, and made the extra effort backing up shots at the end line.

"I thought our team today, the kids got on the bus and came up here very motivated to play well," Pietramala said. "This was an important game for us. This was a top 10 win. ... I thought our kids as a group did a great job."

The win is a big one as far as motivation goes for Johns Hopkins, as they will face three more teams this month that are in Lacrosse Magazine's Top 20: Syracuse (No. 7), Virginia (No. 6) and North Carolina (No. 3).

When asked what the plan was for the Princeton game, Brown made it seem simple.

"Just to go out and play as hard as we could and let's get the ball in their goal," he said.

After the scoring spree Brown had today along with the intensity the Blue Jays offense as a whole brought, it seems that is a good plan moving forward.


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