For Hopkins, another thud

Virginia powers to 9-2 1st-period lead, ends Jays' latest bid, 16-11

May 30, 1999|By Jamison Hensley | Jamison Hensley,SUN STAFF

COLLEGE PARK -- The Johns Hopkins players dreamed of carrying the school's storied program back to the pinnacle of the lacrosse world. Instead, the Blue Jays only elevated their level of frustration, extending this decade's tradition of misery with the worst start and finish in the program's playoff history.

Sideswiped by Virginia's fast-break barrage, No. 2 Hopkins surrendered nine goals in the first quarter -- the most-ever in any NCAA tournament period by the Blue Jays, and bowed to the No. 3 Cavaliers, 16-11, at Byrd Stadium yesterday.

Virginia (12-3) followed the lead of freshman Conor Gill's five goals to sprint into tomorrow's NCAA final against Syracuse.

The crowd of 27,586 witnessed lacrosse history as the Blue Jays went 0-for-the '90s, failing to celebrate a national championship in a decade for the first time since the 1880s. In fact, Hopkins prolonged another tarnishing streak, missing out on the NCAA final for a 10th straight time.

The ending didn't capture a perfect portrait of the Hopkins legacy either.

The Blue Jays (11-3) were flagged for two unsportsmanlike penalties in the fourth quarter, the last coming when Hopkins defenseman Rob Doerr put a hit on Jamie Leachman after Leachman scored Virginia's final goal. Following an exchange of words, Leachman patted the helmet of Doerr, who retaliated with a hard shove to the chest.

"There's certainly a lot of frustration that's not met at any point of the year until this time of the year," Hopkins goalkeeper Brian Carcaterra said. "Right now, it hasn't really sunk in."

Blame it on 3 minutes, 32 seconds.

Almost quicker than the announcer could sound out the goal scorer, Virginia transformed a 1-1 game into an 8-1 margin with a seven-goal blur. The Blue Jays touched the ball just once --and turned it over within seconds.

"I felt some energy in the locker room, but I never expected anything like this to happen," Virginia coach Dom Starsia said. "I thought we were very sharp early in the game, very unselfish, moving the ball through wherever the opportunities were. I couldn't tell you who got the points."

Let's sort out the confusion.

The Cavaliers' faceoff tandem of David Jenkins and Jason Hard controlled the draws and Virginia executed a series of layup drills against Hopkins' first-team All-America goalkeeper.

Hanley Holcomb dusted Hopkins defender Brendan Shook to put the Cavaliers ahead 3-1 with 10: 22 remaining in the first quarter. Less than a minute later, Gill sped past John Paleologos.

Only 53 seconds after that, Gill scored again unassisted. Ten seconds later, Gill converted a Jay Jalbert pass. Nine seconds later, Tucker Radebaugh set up David Baruch.

When Gill notched another one with 7: 29 left in the first, the Cavaliers had marched to their 8-1 advantage. Hopkins slowed the onslaught with a Matt O'Kelly goal before Gill, a St. Paul's graduate, angled in a shot just inside the right post 12 seconds later for his fifth of the game, pushing the Cavaliers' lead back to 9-2.

Hopkins, which gave up just 8.6 goals in 13 games this season, had never before allowed nine goals in a quarter in its 28-year NCAA tournament history.

"When they have a seven-goal cushion, that's a tough situation to come back from," said Hopkins attackman Dan Denihan, who had five goals on 10 shots. "Honestly, I swear I thought there was a time I thought we were going to take it. We've been in that situation before and we've answered. Today, we didn't."

The Blue Jays didn't help themselves by shooting right at Virginia's freshman goalkeeper, Derek Kenney, who made a career-best 15 saves without hardly moving.

Then there was the matter of their seven failed clears and the five wasted extra-man opportunities.

Hopkins closed to within four goals twice, but never found a rhythm because it never had possession consistently. In the first three quarters, Virginia's faceoff specialists doubled up Hopkins' Eric Wedin, grabbing 15 of 22 draws.

"I've said it a thousand times: Winning faceoffs is the ability to go on a run and the ability to stop one," Starsia said. "Today was a perfect example of that."

As the final horn blared, some Hopkins players dropped to their knees and others threw down their sticks in disgust. Denihan tossed a water bottle to the ground before cupping his hands over his face, giving out a loud yell.

And off to the side, Hopkins first-year coach John Haus paced quietly with his hands locked behind his head.

Chalk up another bitter memory for Hopkins at Byrd Stadium. The Blue Jays have lost in seven consecutive playoff appearances here, dating back to 1989 -- the last time they battled for that elusive championship.

"As I said in the locker room to the guys: I let an awful lot of people down today," Haus said. "My job is to win a championship and I didn't."

Virginia 9 2 2 3 -- 16

Hopkins 3 3 2 3 -- 11

Goals: V--Gill 5, Jalbert 3, Radebaugh 2, Holcomb, Baruch, Leahy, Vercollone, Bruce, Leachman; JH--Denihan 5, Haugen 2, O'Kelly, Rabuano, Schlott, Shaberly . Assists: V--McKnight 3, Radebaugh, 2, Jalbert, Leachman, Oakey; JH--Denihan 2, O'Kelly 2, Haugen. Saves: V--Kenney 15, O'Neil 0; Carcaterra 11.

NCAA lacrosse

Men's final four

At College Park

Yesterday's semifinals

Syracuse 13,

Georgetown 9

Virginia 16,

Johns Hopkins 11

Tomorrow's championship

Syracuse vs. Virginia, 10: 55 a.m., ESPN


Tickets ($15 each) can be purchased by calling 800-462-8377.

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