Hopkins comes up a second short of Syracuse, 13-12

Down 13-8, Jays rally, but tying goal too late

March 18, 2000|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,SUN STAFF

SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- Third-ranked Johns Hopkins nearly completed an amazing comeback in the final minute against top-ranked Syracuse last night, but in the end the Blue Jays needed one more second on the clock.

For an instant, the Blue Jays thought they had forced overtime before 7,711 shocked spectators at the Carrier Dome. Attackman Bobby Benson appeared to score a game-tying goal on the crease. But officials ruled that time had expired, leaving Hopkins with a 13-12 defeat to think about during a six-hour bus ride back to Baltimore.

The Orangemen (3-0) had cruised through much of the second half with a lead that had grown to 13-8 early in the fourth quarter.

But the offense that had delighted the home crowd with three-goal performances from each of its attackmen -- led by three-time, All-American Ryan Powell -- went into a stall. And when Hopkins midfielder Conor Denihan tied his career high with his fifth goal to slice the lead to 13-9 with 8: 18 left, an improbable comeback was under way.

First, attackman Dan Denihan scored his second goal to make it 13-10 with 6: 26 left. While the Orangemen would not muster a shot the rest of the way, the Blue Jays (1-2) reached back for some offensive heroics that began with 45 seconds remaining, starting with midfielder A. J. Haugen's third goal, which made it 13-11.

The Blue Jays then won the ensuing faceoff, and Conor Denihan fed Benson for Hopkins' fourth consecutive score with 19 seconds to go. Denihan set a career high with his sixth point of the game on the play.

The Orangemen won the next faceoff, but the Blue Jays regained control of the ball near midfield with about 10 seconds remaining, setting up the dramatic finish.

For a second, the Blue Jays celebrated. After Benson's goal was nullified, most of the team collapsed on the field.

"It was an unbelievable comeback. I thought I heard the horn sound after I saw the shot go in. I wish we could have played them in overtime," said Conor Denihan, who broke out of a 1-for-19 shooting drought with his best effort of the season. "I hope we get to see them again. We showed tremendous heart. We just kept coming at them."

"We preach at them about playing for 60 minutes, and that's what we did tonight," Hopkins coach John Haus said. "We've been searching for ourselves these past two weeks. I think we found ourselves tonight. Sometimes it isn't about winning and losing, but how you play."

The Blue Jays also found out what they suspected -- that Syracuse owns arguably the game's best attack trio and its most explosive offense. The attack of Powell, Liam Banks and Michael Springer recorded three goals apiece, as the Orangemen took a second-quarter lead they would never relinquish. Even though they were outshot by a huge, 58-26 margin by Hopkins, the Orangemen converted on 50 percent of their attempts.

Give the Blue Jays (1-2) credit for recovering from a poor shooting performance early to make things thrilling. Hopkins took 16 of the game's first 19 shots, but led only 3-2 going into the second quarter.

Hopkins also won 20 of 27 faceoffs, and they worked over Syracuse goalie Rob Mulligan in the late going. Seven of Mulligan's 17 saves came in the fourth period.

"The best thing about this game was the clock finally hit zero," Banks said.

Benson and fellow attackman Christian Pforr symbolized the frustration that gripped the Hopkins shooters. Each of them missed two point-blank opportunities in the first half, when Hopkins controlled seemingly everything but the scoreboard for lengthy stretches.

The Orangemen shook off their first-quarter doldrums with six goals to take an 8-5 halftime lead they would never lose. Springer scored twice in the quarter, and Powell got Syracuse rolling by flipping a ball between his legs and by Hopkins goalie Brian Carcaterra, while Powell had his back to the goal.

Haugen cut the lead to 5-4 on an extra-man goal with 8: 43 left, but Matt Caione scored twice and Springer added a rocket from 12 yards out to complete a 3-1 spurt before the break.

Benson, who initially thought he had sent the game into overtime, blamed himself for putting the Blue Jays in such a comeback predicament.

"I missed too many opportunities in the first half. I missed twice up close," he said. "If I make those, we win by one."

Johns Hopkins 3 2 3 4 -- 12

Syracuse 2 6 3 2 -- 13

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