February 21, 2012

Many Firsts in Blue Jays' Second Win

Freshman Stanwick gets first collegiate goal, Benn hat trick with Boland sidelined

by Matt Forman | LaxMagazine.com | Related: Delaware's Upset Bid Falls Short

Sixth-year senior Chris Boland stood on the sideline Tuesday as a spectator with his left arm in a sling. Johns Hopkins' attack of sophomore Brandon Benn, freshman Wells Stanwick and junior Zach Palmer played admirably without him.
© John Strohsacker/LaxPhotos.com

BALTIMORE — A series of firsts tell the story of Johns Hopkins' second win of the season, an 8-6 defeat of Delaware on Tuesday evening at Homewood Field.

The Blue Jays' first game without sixth-year senior star Chris Boland, who is out indefinitely after suffering an apparent collarbone injury Friday against Towson; freshman Wells Stanwick's first career goal in his first career start, filling Boland's spot in the lineup; sophomore Brandon Benn's first career hat trick, as he took an expanded role within Hopkins' offense; and junior Mike Poppleton's first action of the year after missing the opener, which provided an added spark at the faceoff X.

Johns Hopkins coach Dave Pietramala did not provide an update on the severity of Boland's injury, and the school's athletics staff only confirmed that Boland would not be available for Tuesday's contest.

"He'll be back. That's all I can tell you," Pietramala said after the game. "He'll be all right."

Boland's left arm was in a sling as he walked the sidelines of Homewood in his team-issued black tracksuit, gloves and ski hat. He likely will undergo further testing and meetings with doctors before Hopkins makes a formal announcement. But reading between the lines, it sounds like Boland could miss several weeks, if not more — though it doesn't sound like a season-ending situation.

"[Tuesday] was our first game without Bo, which is a huge loss for us," Benn said. "Us three — Benn, Stanwick and junior Zach Palmer — now have to step up until he's able to return. We have to do our job and fill in for what Bo brings to the table, and make up for that. You don't realize how valuable Bo is until you have to do it yourself. At times, we kind of got mixed up a bit, and it cost us a few turnovers, but I think as the game wore on we got more settled and were able to get better offense."

Benn and Stanwick were the primary beneficiaries of Boland's absence Tuesday, combining for four goals and three assists, despite a few early hiccups with timing issues. When asked about the play of his attack, Pietramala said the unit did a much better job of staying organized in the second half, and he was pleased with their executing in the two-minute drill to drain the clock.

"Chris doesn't play, and the rookie comes out of the game with one goal and two assists against a pretty good team. We'll take it," Pietramala said of Stanwick. "It's a big day for a freshman in his first start at Johns Hopkins. He lives 50 yards up the road. I'm sure he was nervous, I'm sure he was anxious. He got his feet wet."

Strange to think, but Boland was a member of Hopkins' 2007 title-winning team and played in four games as a reserve that season. He knows what it takes to win a national championship. That experience, plus years of war stories and knowledge of the Blue Jays' sets makes Boland like a coach.

He spent most of Tuesday's game standing near the restraining line, shouting commands and helping get players be in the right place at the right time.

"He was pretty much just echoing the calls, telling me to get guys in spots, and helping guys get in their spots," Benn said. "He was still controlling the offense from the sidelines. Whether he's in the game or not, he is still very valuable in that sense. He's very vocal on the field. Our attack and midfield, as soon as we hear his voice everyone automatically listens. That's going to be a big part for us: Him still being able to lead from the sidelines."

Other than directing the offense, Boland offered encouragement as his teammates checked in and out of the game, offering a high-five, slap on the helmet or pat on the back.

Stanwick said Boland offered a few words of encouragement before the game too.

"We're locker mates, so he was telling me before the game to have confidence in myself," Stanwick said. "He said he would be talking to me whole time. That really helped a lot, knowing that he was behind me."

Faceoff Boost

Junior faceoff specialist Mike Poppelton was banged up from a preseason scrimmage against Cornell and was held out of the season-opener against Towson as a precautionary measure, but he made an impact on Tuesday. The Blue Jays won 9-of-21 draws against the Tigers — the majority of which were taken by freshman Drew Kennedy — and 10-of-18 against Delaware, but Poppleton was 9-for-15. Junior midfielder John Ranagan took the opening faceoff Tuesday.

"Mike Poppleton was a nice lift back at the faceoff X," Pietramala said. "Mike gives you a different kind of look, and Mike gives you a veteran guy, a guy with some experience. Mike gave us a great lift. When he didn't win it, what I liked about it was that he didn't let them win it cleanly — it became a scrum, it became a ground ball, and we came up with a bunch of those. That's a much better step than we had last week. We improved there."

Off the Schneid

Until his wide-open goal with 31 seconds remaining in the game, Ranagan had been held scoreless on his first 13 shots (eight Friday, five Tuesday) of the season. Delaware trailed by a goal and was short two players in the waning moments, so they were forced to pressure away from the cage and leave an empty net.

Ranagan, an All-American in 2011 with 18 goals and 14 assists, took the opportunity to end his early-season drought. But Pietramala said after the game "we probably should have held the ball and not shot it," instead of taking the goal and giving the Blue Hens a chance to win consecutive faceoffs.

Biscuit in the Basket

Though Pietramala didn't name any names, he said he thought Hopkins' midfielders "were less than adequate today."

"[Delaware] did a good job of sliding early, we moved the ball, and then our middies got the ball back with some good looks and we didn't make the most of those opportunities," he said. "We've got to be more fundamentally sound."

Ranagan, John Greeley and Rob Guida started at midfield for Hopkins and finished with two goals on 13 combined shots. The second-line of Mark Goodrich, Greg Edmonds (one goal) and Lee Coppersmith (one) looked to, at times, have better rhythm.

"Our shot selection was pretty good, but our shot placement wasn't," Pietramala said. "Give their goalie [Chris Herbert] credit. I thought he played a heck of a game. He made some good saves. We took some shots that we would say, 'OK, we'd take it again,' but I don't think we put it in good spots. I don't think we shot the ball intelligently. We've got to be better there, and we've got to put some extra work in. We had 35 shots, and we've got to come away with a few more than eight [goals]."

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