January 17, 2011

Petro: Youth Does Not Mean Inexperience

from press release

BALTIMORE, Md. - The 2011 Johns Hopkins men's lacrosse team opened preseason practice at chilly Homewood Field on Monday afternoon. Under the direction of 11th-year coach Dave Pietramala and assistants Bill Dwan, Bobby Benson and Jamison Koesterer, the Blue Jays went through a crisp two-hour practice as they officially began the countdown to the season-opener at Towson on Feb. 19.

"Obviously it was great to get back out on the field," Pietramala stated after the up-tempo practice concluded. "This is a team that feels as if we have some unfinished business to attend to after last season. Today was about fundamentals - we did a lot of work off the ground and that will be a point of emphasis in the preseason to address our performance in that area a year ago."

The Blue Jays will be led this season by co-captains Kyle Wharton, Matt Dolente and Chris Boland, who made his return to the field today after missing nearly all of the 2010 season with an injury. Boland has been cleared for all drills and was not limited in today's first practice. The healthy return of Boland will be a key for the Blue Jays this season as he led the team in scoring two years ago before playing less than two games a year ago before being lost for the season.

Wharton, Dolente and Boland will lead what may be the youngest team in the nation. While it's unlikely that the 2011 Blue Jays will match the 2002 squad, which featured four freshmen in the starting lineup on opening day, this year's team may not be far behind as more than half of the starting lineup could be filled by sophomores and several freshmen could figure into the rotation as well.

"While this group is young, it's not inexperienced," Pietramala noted. "John Ranagan, John Greeley, Zach Palmer, Tucker Durkin, Pierce Bassett and Chris Lightner are all only sophomores, but each gained a significant amount of experience a year ago. The hope is that this group has matured and is ready to take the step to contribute at a much higher level."

Prior to the season-opener at Towson, the Blue Jays will test themselves twice in preseason scrimmages. They will open at Penn State on February 5 and host Cornell on February 12. Until then, the coaches and captains will look to build on a positive opening practice.

"We were pleased with the pace of the practice and the level of enthusiasm that was maintained throughout," Pietramala noted of what was an obvious energy on the first day. "The challenge now is to bring that same enthusiasm and energy back tomorrow and for the remainder of the preseason. The work ethic this group demonstrated in the fall, winter and today has been dramatically different than what we saw last year. The overall conditioning level of this team is very good, especially for the first day."

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