Hopkins falls to Princeton down stretch Leaping, no-look goal by freshman Sims lifts No. 1 Tigers in OT, 7-6

Severn grad's first score

No. 5 Blue Jays make slowdown nearly work

March 02, 1997|By Jamison Hensley | Jamison Hensley,CONTRIBUTING WRITER

PRINCETON, N.J. -- A year ago, Josh Sims regularly walked off the field, cringing as opposing high school teams celebrated.

Yesterday, top-ranked Princeton celebrated because of Sims.

With his body fully extended, Sims grabbed a rebound high out of the air and backhanded it blindly into the goal 1: 42 into overtime, enabling Princeton to escape with a 7-6 triumph over No. 5 Johns Hopkins before 2,349.

The Tigers stormed the field at Class of 1952 Stadium and mobbed Sims. It was his first career goal and only his second collegiate shot.

"It was all field sense," said Sims, whose Severn School team lost eight of 10 league games last season. "I knew the goal was behind me and there was a defenseman close. All I really know: It was a rebound and I tried to get a shot off. You take what you can get."

It allowed the defending national champion Tigers (1-0) to extend the country's longest winning streak to 14, tying a 26-year-old school record. The Blue Jays, who were playing their 1,000th game in school history, dropped their season opener for the second straight year.

But some added drama set up Sims' heroics. He wasn't supposed to be on the field.

On Feb. 20, Princeton leading scorer Jesse Hubbard suffered a shoulder sprain and couldn't play. With a lineup shuffle, Tigers coach Bill Tierney inserted Sims, the only freshman starter for Princeton, into the first midfield unit.

"There's two things about Josh," Tierney said. "One, he's too unselfish. And two, he doesn't know how good he really is."

Sims' goal spoiled a well-executed, slowdown game plan by Hopkins. The Blue Jays played a deliberate style, passing the ball around the perimeter and holding the ball behind the cage.

Although it was the lowest goal total for the Blue Jays in seven years, Hopkins held the Tigers nine goals below their average last season.

"We wanted to take care of the ball and wanted to control the tempo," Hopkins coach Tony Seaman said. "And we did that."

However, Princeton took advantage of every unsettled situation, scoring its last five goals on loose balls, rebounds or defenders slipping.

"Six-on-six, our defense did real well except on some of those rebounds," said Hopkins sophomore goalkeeper Brian Carcaterra, who made 16 saves in his first start. "We came in here looking to win. At Hopkins, you don't look for moral victories. We can do nothing but build on this."

After two ties, the Tigers took their first lead at 3-2 when Todd Eichelberger grabbed a ground ball out in front of the goal and scored past an unbalanced Carcaterra 1: 15 before halftime.

A minute into the second half, Jon Hess' put-back of Eichelberger's shot increased Princeton's advantage to 4-2. The Blue Jays answered quickly on goals by Dudley Dixon and Billy Evans in less than a two-minute span to tie the game at 4 with 11: 14 left in the third quarter.

In the fourth quarter, the Tigers scored twice to take a 6-4 lead and hit the pipe three times. It appeared that those near misses would cost Princeton when Hopkins' Billy Evans scored to narrow the deficit to 6-5 with 1: 30 remaining in regulation.

Evans' attempt to tie the game with 20 seconds left was saved by Tigers goalkeeper Pat Cairns, who threw the ball wildly to the other end of the field. Carcaterra caught the toss and immediately found Werner Krueger at midfield.

As the Tigers tried to collect themselves defensively, Dixon took the feed from Krueger and skipped the ball past Cairns with 6.6 seconds left to send the game into overtime.

"I said the same thing I always say in overtime: win the faceoff, call a timeout and let's win this thing," said Tierney, whose Tigers have won six straight overtime games, including three for NCAA titles.

James Mitchell won the faceoff in overtime for Princeton and called a timeout while falling out of bounds. Chris Massey then fired a hard shot that hit Carcaterra's stick and sailed into the air to Sims, who converted the game-winner midway into overtime.

"This is special because I used to go to Homewood and root for Hopkins before I knew where I was going," Sims said.

"It's a big difference this year. Last year [at Severn], we were just looking to keep our heads on straight. Now, we're expected to win every game. I like this experience a whole lot better."

Pub Date: 3/02/97

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