PRINCETON, N.J. -- In time, Johns Hopkins lacrosse coach Tony Seaman may find some solace in prayer and a videotape.
"I just pray to God that it was a penalty," Seaman said. "I really pray that it was because then it will be easier for us to accept. We'll still have to accept it, but it will be much, much easier."
No. 6 Johns Hopkins was eliminated in the Division I quarterfinals by No. 3 Princeton yesterday, 12-11, as attackman Scott Conklin scooped up a loose ball and scored from outside the crease 1:20 into the four-minute sudden-death overtime.
Conklin threw his stick in the air, and in stride from his breakaway goal, kept running before his teammates piled on him and celebrated under the scoreboard.
Princeton (12-1) advances to Final Four for the third straight year where it will meet Ivy League rival and No. 7 Brown (13-5), Saturday at 3 p.m. at Byrd Stadium in College Park.
At the other end of Palmer Stadium, several frustrated Hopkins players lay on the turf, trying to recall some of the crazy memories of a game that ended with a Blue Jays assistant coach and player briefly arguing and fighting with Princeton goalkeeper Scott Bacigalupo.
The controversial call came with 1:26 left and Hopkins ahead, 11-10. Princeton midfielder Scott Reinhardt shot high over the net, but Blue Jays midfielder Werner Krueger was called for LTC throwing a late elbow, which resulted in a one-minute, illegal body check penalty.
Conklin scored on the extra-man situation, a high shot, with 37 seconds left to tie the score as Seaman had to be restrained by assistant coaches from going onto the field.
Hopkins (9-5) won the ensuing faceoff, but attackman Casey Gordon shot high with 16 seconds remaining. Blue Jays attackman Brian Piccola then missed on a wide-open shot from seven yards out four seconds later, and fellow attackman Dave Marr's shot hit Bacigalupo in the face mask with seven seconds left.
"A pipe shot here, a better shot there, and we're going to the Final Four," Seaman said. "It's still mystifying to me that we're not going to College Park. For sixty-one of 62 minutes, we were the better team."
"As for the call, I won't comment because I'll get in trouble," Seaman said. "The fight? I won't comment on that, either."
Neither Krueger nor Reinhardt was available for comment.
Princeton coach Bill Tierney said: "When you get a late hit, you get a late hit. That's how they're supposed to call it."
The next bizarre play was the winning goal. Hopkins won the faceoff to start the overtime, but Gordon's shot was stopped by Bacigalupo. Bacigalupo passed to Rob Neff, who was stripped of the ball by Hopkins attackman Terry Riordan.
And as the ball rolled about 40 yards, so rolled Hopkins playoff aspirations.
The ball was touched by two Princeton and three Hopkins players before it rolled into the Princeton box, where Conklin scooped it up in stride and beat Johns Hopkins goalie Jonathan Marcus one-on-one for the easy goal.
In the blink of an eye, it was over.
"I had it for a second before [Princeton defender Paul] Murphy hit me, and it rolled over midfield," Johns Hopkins midfielder Todd Cavallaro said. "We had no one in the hole, and they got a fast break."
Conklin said: "I guess it was one of those games where the ball just came into my stick, and I kept going. The goalie came out, and I just went around him. We didn't practice it, that's for sure."
Practice it? Tierney was yelling for a timeout while the players were wrestling for the loose ball. "I'm just glad my assistant, David Metzbower, wiped it out," Tierney said. "I could have looked quite foolish."
Tierney hinted that Hopkins may have been better prepared for the game. Seaman took the long pole of Aaron Van Horn and had him shadow Princeton attackman Kevin Lowe, who runs the offense. Lowe had one goal and one assist.
Seaman had Cavallaro run his offense, taking advantage of Princeton's short stick midfielder. He finished with three goals and an assist and was easily the Blue Jays' biggest threat.
"I think we played as well as we could have played," said Seaman, whose team lost, 20-11, to Princeton in the season opener.
Princeton led, 2-1, at the end of the first quarter, but Hopkins scored the last five goals of the second quarter to build a 6-3 halftime lead.
Tierney then went with his motion offense in the third period and started challenging the Blue Jays defensive midfielders. Princeton scored the first four goals of the third quarter for a 7-6 lead with 6:54 left in the period, but Hopkins, on goals from Cavallaro and Riordan, led 8-7 at the end of the period.