(Photo Courtesy of Johns Hopkins Athletics)
After putting Cornell back on track, which included leading them to an NCAA Quarterfinals appearance in 2018, Peter Milliman was handed the keys to the ship at Johns Hopkins and tasked with doing much of the same. But his first year at Homewood would be one of the most unusual in college lacrosse history.
No fall ball, no fans in the stands, and a Big Ten-only schedule was the hand Johns Hopkins was dealt this past season, and despite the situation they still saw some growth and success in year one under Milliman that signified this program was heading back on the right track. That is especially true with how this team played late in the season.
The Blue Jays ended the 2021 season with a 4-9 (2-8 Big Ten) record, however two of those wins came in the postseason with Hopkins beating Penn State, 15-7, in the conference quarterfinals before upsetting eventual NCAA Quarterfinalist Rutgers, 12-10, in the semifinals. The Blue Jays’ season ended with a 12-10 loss to arch-rival Maryland in the Big Ten championship game. It marked the second contest in which Milliman’s squad had come close to beating the Terrapins as they fell by one-goal, 14-13, to them in their regular season finale just a week prior.
In addition to their late-season hot streak, the Blue Jays also saw positive signs elsewhere throughout the season as they were a top-three team in the conference in points per game (17.31) and assists per game (6.15), and has the second-most man-up goals (35) of any team in the Big Ten. Additionally, they beat their opponents in the ground ball battle (385-380) and suffered less turnovers compared to their opponents (199-203).
Success in the win column wasn’t even close to the Johns Hopkins standard last season. But despite all the struggles this team had, they were able to get hot when it mattered the most and showed themselves to be the most improved team in the Big Ten. If they can keep that trend going, especially with a fall season this year, this Blue Jays team just might surprise in 2022.
Connor DeSimone led the Blue Jays’ in scoring last season with 45 points off 25 goals and 20 assists, and returns for a fifth and final season of college lacrosse. Joey Epstein tallied 35 points (22G/13A) and returns for his senior season at Homewood. The pair are the top two returners on this offense and are expected to lead the way at that attack spot once again this spring. And with normalcy returning and a season under their belt in John Grant Jr.’s offense, both DeSimone and Epstein should be expected to possibly put together the best season of their careers.
With the graduation of Cole Williams, sophomores Jonathan Peshko (9G/1A) and Brendan Grimes (8G) look to be teh next two up at the spot after seeing action at the spot last season. However, Grimes could very well see a move to midfield after seeing action there in eight games last season, as well as seeing time at the spot this fall.
Senior Garret Degnon (23G/2A), Jacob Angelus (12G/12A), and Jack Keogh(3G/8A), who returns for an extra season, all return after leading the way at the midfield last season and look to find similar or greater success this spring. Additionally, the Blue Jays picked up one transfer on the offensive end in Russ Maher from Virginia who could be an impact player at both the midfield at attack spots this season.
On the defensive end of the field, the Blue Jays should also be able to take a step forward with two of their top three starting poles in Owen McManus (10GB/9CT) and Jack Lyne (10GB/6CT) both returning. Beaudan Szuluk should also see some time on the back end again this season after seeing four starts last year and recording seven ground balls and nine caused turnovers.
In addition to the returnees at close, Johns Hopkins has also added former Providence defenseman Emmett Jennings via the transfer portal. Jennings comes to Homewood after a solid career at Providence and is coming off a season in which he had 33 ground balls and 12 caused turnovers. Jennings isn’t the only defensive transfer addition as former Amherst (DIII) goalie Gib Versfeld has also joined the Blue Jays squad. Versfeld joins a goalie room that sees starting goalie Josh Kirson come back after a 2021 campaign in which he made 71 saves with a .397% save percentage. Junior Tim Marcille also saw significant action last season in between the pipes, playing in five games with four starts.
Sophomore SSDM Brett Martin (11GB/4CT) highlights the returnees on the Blue Jays’ rope unit. Hunter Jaronski (12GB/2CT) is their top returning LSM with the graduation of Conner Delaney and could very well see a sizable increase in production this spring.
At the faceoff dot, senior Matt Narewski returns as the Blue Jays’ top option. He went 160-for-284 (.563%) last season. Tyler Dunn (13-for-36) and Kyle Prouty (7-for-24) both return as secondary options at the dot coming into the 2022 campaign.