New-Look Johns Hopkins Emphasizing Draws to Support Offense By Committee

PHOTO BY JOHN STROHSACKER

Shelby Harrison is 31 draw controls away from becoming the program's all-time leader.


Shelby Harrison was named a team captain at the end of the fall in a nod to her continued development.

“It was pure growth on her part, pure personal growth and pushing herself,” said Johns Hopkins coach Janine Tucker, in her 29th and final season as Blue Jays head coach. “I’m really proud of her.”

Harrison is one of four graduate students to return for the Blue Jays, along with fellow captain Keegan Barger, goalie Kathleen Garvey and defender Jeanne Kachris.

Barger has started every game of her career and is a driving force behind gaining possessions with draws and caused turnovers. Kachris was an All-Big Ten performer in 2018 and 2019 and is another key transition player, recording 20 ground balls and nine caused turnovers in 2021.

But it’s Harrison who is one of the biggest keys to Hopkins’ success this spring. Harrison has been taking the draw control for Hopkins since she was a freshman, but she wasn’t always happy with her performance.

“My first couple years at Hopkins, balancing the academics and also balancing playing on a Division I team, I think that was a big struggle for me,” Harrison said. “I want to please people. I found myself sometimes in situations where I was upset with myself with how I was playing or even in the academic aspect of things.”

Her doubts plagued her even in her fourth year. There were plenty of visits to Tucker, and this year the two of them both see an improved mindset in Harrison.

“I don’t know if it’s me being in grad school and being around students who are also older, but how are you going to view things? I have struggled with that in the past,” Harrison said. “Taking the negatives and making them positives and taking the positives and driving them home has really helped me in my development.”







Tucker, who announced in August that this would be her final season at the helm of the Blue Jays, and Harrison both want to exit as champions. Harrison can play a key part as she tries to help the Blue Jays gain possessions. Last year, Hopkins sat 80th in the country in draw control percentage, and Tucker is emphasizing being more consistent in the circle.

“We did some things well in pockets, and then whether it was injuries or different things that went on, we fell a little short of what we would have really liked,” Tucker said. “So those kids are really hungry.”

Harrison is just 31 draw controls away from the individual program record. She has been the draw taker her whole life, with one exception — her senior year of high school when she was on the circle. Harrison thus knows the importance of the role, not to mention the proper way to approach it.

“Me being one of the center draw specialists, just not putting that pressure on yourself, Harrison said. “I think in past years, I have put that pressure on myself, and my wheels were turning too much instead of me just having fun playing. I think when our team plays comfortable and doesn’t overthink, that’s where we all play the best, including myself.”

Tucker likes her team’s ability to gain possession. The ride looked solid this fall, even without developing it fully. And the defense, with standout Annika Meyer (who helped Hopkins lead the Big Ten in caused turnovers in 2021), Kachris and Garvey, is in good hands and will be augmented by the addition of freshman Paris Colgain. The midfield, with Harrison, Keegan Barger and Madison McPherson, who is a major breakout candidate, leading the way looks solid.

It’s the offensive end that has undergone a massive overhaul with the graduation of its top three scorers — Aurora Cordingley (now at Maryland), Mackenzie Heldberg and Maggie Schneidereith. Freshman newcomer Alayna Costa got on the field early in the fall and could be a spark on that end alongside returner Maeve Barker. Assistant coach Kristen Carr has focused the new-look offense on moving the ball and finding creative opportunities to use each attacker’s skillset.

“It is going to be success by committee on the offensive end,” Tucker said. “There is no doubt about that. Everyone has to be involved in that.”

Hopkins is confident it will be able to score. It just needs the chances, and Harrison is ready to do her part, equipped with a healthier mindset and the drive to succeed in her final year.

“I look back on everything I’ve been through, and I’m at more of a comfort level with where I am as a person,” Harrison said. “I think that’s really displayed out on the lacrosse field, and in my academics this year.”

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