Johns Hopkins' Preview for the 2013 Lacrosse Season

Lightner often draws the difficult assignment of marking the off-ball attackmen the Blue Jays encounter and also gives Pietramala some flexibility within his defensive unit as he possesses the skill set to bump up and play long stick midfield as well. Lightner is a threat in transition and counts nearly 60 career ground balls and 20 caused turnovers to his credit.

The other starting spot on close defense will be held by either junior Jack Reilly or sophomore Rob Enright; both have plenty of game and starting experience to their credit.

Like Lightner, Reilly has the versatility to play close defense or LSM as he started all 16 games on defense as a freshman before playing the pole last season. He is a threat in transition as his goal last season helped the Blue Jays edge then top-ranked Virginia, while he also grabbed 21 ground balls a year ago and has 16 caused turnovers in two seasons.

Enright played in 10 games and earned a pair of starts last season and gained valuable experience as a member of the gold-medal-winning United States Under-19 Team at last summer's FIL U-19 World Championships. He is a technically sound stay-at-home defender who should be a key member of the Blue Jay defense for the next three years.

Johns Hopkins' U-19 World Championship Participants
1988 - Bill Dwan (D), Matt Panetta (A)
1992 - Dave Marr (A)
1996 - Dan Denihan (A), A.J. Haugen (M), Matt O'Kelly (M), John Paleologos (D)
1999 - John Brasko (D), Joe McDermott (M), Rob Scherr (G)
2003 - Kyle Dowd (M), Kevin Huntley (A / Canada), Greg Peyser (M), Matt Pinto (D), EricZerrlaut (D)
2008 - Matt Dolente (M), Tim Donovan (M)
2012 - Rob Enright (D)

There is no shortage of additional players looking to find time on close defense and this group may provide the nucleus of the Blue Jay defense of the future. Sophomores John Kelly and Eddie Schurr and freshmen Eddie Morris and Matt O'Keefe all have the potential to contribute and provide quality depth to what is a deep and talented defensive unit.

Moving up to the rope unit, the Blue Jays are as deep, talented and athletic as they've been there in years. As a bonus, this is also one of the youngest groups on the team.

Sophomore Michael Pellegrino headlines the unit from his long stick middie position. Pellegrino grew into a substantial role last season, when he scored one goal and added one assist and 33 ground balls while causing 10 turnovers. He plays with great energy and excels in transition, where he could flourish with the rule changes intended to speed up the game.

Senior Matt Leighty and sophomore Nikhon Schuler are competing for the number two spot at the pole. Schuler played short stick defensive midfield last season, but is switching back to playing with a long stick this season, while Leighty could earn the most significant playing time of his career after playing in 12 games through his first three seasons.

Although not a returning starter, there may not be a more valuable returning player on the team than Phil Castronova, who missed the entire 2012 season with an injury but is completely healthy and returns to his spot as JHU's top short stick defensive middie. As a freshmen in 2011 he established himself as one of the top players in the nation at the position as he rang up four goals, three assists and 42 ground balls. He is a strong one-on-one defender and excels in transition, where he could exceed his total of 2011 with the new rules in place this season.

Junior James Malm worked his way into a regular spot in the rotation as a short stick defensive middie last season as he played in 11 games and will team with Pellegrino and Castronova to round out JHU's starting trio on this unit. He continues to gain confidence and could be a surprise player for the Blue Jays this season.

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2013-02-07



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