Former Syracuse Orange midfielder and national champion John Carrozza took in the games at the New Meadowlands on Sunday and gives his insight to game number two, a 10-9 win by the Johns Hopkins Blue Jays over the Tar Heels of North Carolina.
Game 2 of the Big City Classic featured a UNC team with loads of talent; however, the Tarheels have had an up and down season. Lacking a team identity, the Tarheels needed a win in a big way. This game was of dire importance to the Heels, but the Blue Jays would not go down without a fight. April 3rd would prove to be a coming out party for Johns Hopkins and showcase their talent on a national platform.
The Blue Jays have found their identity and are looking better every week. Dave Pietramala’s squad has won yet another big game in convincing fashion. Skeptics have to give credit where credit is due, and this Blue Jay team is a force to be reckoned with. Despite the youth on their roster, Johns Hopkins has found a way for everyone on the team to buy into their system and this mindset has paid dividends for the Jays. Coach Petro and his staff have great game plans every week, which is a testament to their preparation week in and week out.
Seinor Matt Dolente had a banner day at the X, going 16 for 22, allowing his team to control the tempo and get high percentage shots on net. For what Matt lacks in size, he makes up for with his sheer determination to win the faceoff battle. Sunday also showed why Senior Kyle Wharton is one of the top attackman in the country. His 3 goals performance was a the spark the Jays needed to get out to an early lead. With the ability to command the offense and unleash high quality shots with pinpoint accuracy, he has all of the qualities coaches look for in a senior leader. What I find most impressive is the way these seniors have been able to bring along the younger players, undoubtedly the mark of a great program. The key for young college players is to understand the expectations of the coaching staff and do anything to help your team, despite the role you are given or aspire to have.
The emergence of John Ranagan as a dominant midfielder has been instrumental in Hopkins resurgence to a top 5 team. The kid plays hard for 48 minutes and leaves it all on the field. His enthusiasm is contagious and his work ethic is militant, qualities that are innate in great players. Ranagan doesn’t need a pre-game pep talk, it’s just another day at the office come gameday. With 3 golas and 1 assist, Ranagan was given the nod for Player of the Game and the accolade was well deserved. Looking forward to see what Ranagan can do as the season moves forward and he exploits teams with his newfound confidence.
Unfortunately for UNC, they came up short this week and yet again need to take a look in the mirror and ask……. "Who am I?" If you want to be a top tier team, you have to come ready to play every week. No let downs, no excuses. Seems that this time of year always poses a problem for the Heels. Coach Breschi has a very talented team, but talent will only take you so far. If the Heels want to make a playoff push, they need to come together and set some expectations as a team. Accountability will keep everyone focused on doing their job and doing it well.