Princeton's new style subdues Hopkins, 12-9 Blue Jays fall short in lacrosse opener

March 03, 1996|By Jamison Hensley | Jamison Hensley,CONTRIBUTING WRITER

It was a tale of two offenses.

There was Princeton, which showcased a fluid, poised running and passing attack, scoring in flurries. On the other end was Johns Hopkins, which needed nearly three quarters to find any ** offensive rhythm, struggling to find consistency.

The Tigers' attack proved to be the difference, giving Princeton an early six-goal lead and securing a 12-9 lacrosse triumph by running out the last 3 1/2 minutes to stall a late Blue Jays rally.

The season-opening loss at Homewood Field ended Johns Hopkins' 12-game regular-season winning streak. It also marked the first time in 18 regular-season games that the Blue Jays, who played their first game in four years without All-America attackmen Terry Riordan and Brian Piccola, did not score in double figures.

"We're probably not as good in settled situations as we've been in the past," Princeton coach Bill Tierney said. "But we're better on the move this year. These guys like to get out there and run."

Princeton (1-0), which is traditionally known for its possession-oriented offense and stingy defense, answered Johns Hopkins three times with back-to-back goals in a span of less than a minute.

The biggest shift in momentum came when Hopkins scored four straight goals midway through the second half. The Tigers responded immediately after Dave Marr (four goals) capped that run with a score off a spin move to pull the Blue Jays within 10-8 with 6:47 left in the fourth quarter.

Ben Strutt stripped the ball away from Hopkins midfielder A. T. Bailey on the defensive end and ran clear up the middle of the field, setting up Jesse Hubbard (four goals) on the left wing. Hubbard's 10-yard shot with 5:37 left increased the lead to 11-8.

Only 59 seconds later, Hubbard sailed from behind the goal, gave one fake and dumped in a goal to put the Tigers ahead 12-8.

The Blue Jays cut the lead to 12-9 as Brad Berzins scored off a pass from Marr with 3:38 left. Then James Mitchell won the faceoff for the Tigers, who passed the ball around for the rest of the game.

In last season's opener with Hopkins, Princeton held a one-goal lead with 3:51 left in the game and took a shot instead of holding the ball. The Blue Jays went on to score two goals in the last 20 seconds and steal the victory.

Asked when he made the decision to hold the ball for the last 3 1/2 minutes of yesterday's game, Tierney said, "Last year. The only time we would have taken a shot was if [Hopkins goalkeeper] Jon Marcus would have gotten caught out of the goal." Anticipating this scenario, Princeton practiced this drill the day before the game.

In the first quarter, it was the Blue Jays who played keep-away. Johns Hopkins wanted to avoid putting the ball into the sticks of the potent Princeton attack, and tried to maintain a slow pace.

But the Tigers seized control in the second quarter after only scoring once in the first. Jon Hess' extra-man goal at 8:14 of the second quarter finished a 4-0 spurt to give Princeton a 5-2 lead.

The Tigers kept increasing the offensive pressure, allowing Hopkins just two shots in the first nine minutes of the second quarter. Marr scored with 2:55 left before halftime, ending a 20-minute Hopkins drought.

However, Princeton scored twice in the last 26 seconds before halftime to take a 7-3 lead.

Hopkins coach Tony Seaman said that late first-half surge hurt his team, which is still developing an identity.

"It's tough to come back from four goals at halftime," Seaman said. "This is a team, like I've said in the past, that I have to be patient with. We were a lot better today than we were three weeks ago."

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