Johns Hopkins' Preview for the 2013 Lacrosse Season

Another option for Benson is to utilize an attackman at midfield in certain situations. The Blue Jays have done this frequently in the past and have the personnel to take advantage of match-ups this way again this season.

Like the regular offensive midfield rotation, the Blue Jays also have experience on faceoffs, where senior Mike Poppleton and sophomore Drew Kennedy return. Freshmen Ryan Matthews and Craig Madarasz have also shown the ability to play early and could make an immediate impact. Hopkins finished seventh in the nation in team faceoff winning percentage last season (.578) and the effectiveness of this group is crucial to any success the Blue Jay may enjoy this season.

Poppleton returns as JHU's top faceoff specialist after enjoying a strong season last year. He won 167 of 271 (.616) faceoffs and grabbed 78 ground balls a year ago, when he finished sixth in the nation in faceoff winning percentage and 19th in ground balls per game (5.2).

Top Returning Faceoff Specialists (by 2012 FO%; 60% or higher listed)
Kevin Massa (Bryant) - .639
Dylan Levings (Yale) - .632
Mike Poppleton (JHU) - .616
Michael Roe (Fairfield) - .608
Chase Carraro (Denver) - .604
Thomas Croonquist (Villanova) - .603
R.G. Keenan (North Carolina) - .603

Kennedy provided a spark at the X and won 29 of 55 (.527) with 14 ground balls in 13 games played. He fueled JHU's 11-10 win at top-ranked Virginia by winning 8 of 14 faceoffs and is likely to take on an increased role this season.

A key to success in the faceoff game is often the play of the wings, and the Blue Jays appear set there. Guida, junior Phil Castronova and sophomore Michael Pellegrino all excel with the ball on the ground and have the ability to get up and down the field in unsettled situations.

Defense

Johns Hopkins head coach Dave Pietramala is obsessed with the details. There is no stone left unturned in the preparation for a game, and that starts with the Blue Jay defense, which Pietramala directs himself. Who better to run a defense than arguably the greatest defensive player in the history of the game?

The 2013 Blue Jay defense will be led by senior Tucker Durkin; the top returning defensive player in the nation. A First Team All-American last season and the William C. Schmeisser Award recipient as the nation's top defensive player, Durkin has routinely drawn the assignment of covering the opposition's top offensive threat since he arrived at JHU and has started every game of his career.

A tough, physical defender who excels in his one-on-one match-ups, Durkin grabbed 35 ground balls and led the team with 19 caused turnovers last season while anchoring a unit that allowed an average of less than 7.5 goals per game and ranked seventh nationally in scoring defense a year ago.

Johns Hopkins' All-Time William C. Schmeisser Award Winners
1943 - George Riepe
1949 - Lloyd Bunting
1951 - Joseph Sollers
1958 - Walter Mitchell
1961 - Michael Byrne
1966 - Hank Kaestner
1967 - Hank Kaestner
1969 - Michael Clark
1979 - Mark Greenberg
1980 - Mark Greenberg
1985 - John DeTommaso
1988 - Dave Pietramala
1989 - Dave Pietramala
1997 - Brian Kuczma
2009 - Michael Evans
2012 - Tucker Durkin

Fellow senior Chris Lightner also returns this season after starting all 16 games alongside Durkin on close defense a year ago. The pair ranks as perhaps the most experienced defensive tandem in the nation with nearly 100 games played and more than 75 starts between them.

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2013-02-07



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