Hopkins brings down No. 1 Syracuse

9-8 win likely to move No. 2 Jays into top spot

March 17, 2002|By Paul McMullen | Paul McMullen,SUN STAFF

The cardiac kids from Johns Hopkins did it again.

More than one-third of the Blue Jays' regulars are freshmen, and a sophomore with a skimpy scoring resume was the late hero at Homewood Field yesterday as midfielder Kevin Boland capped a wild comeback with two goals and an assist in the last three minutes, when No. 2 Hopkins erased a two-goal deficit and recorded an unlikely, 9-8 lacrosse victory over top-ranked Syracuse.

For the first time since March 1999, Hopkins is expected to lead the Top 20, and coach Dave Pietramala appreciates the thin margins that got the Blue Jays into that position.

The Blue Jays outhustled defending NCAA champion Princeton in the season opener. In Week 2, Conor Ford's goal delivered a 9-8 win at Hofstra. Yesterday, Hopkins (3-0) went more than 26 minutes without a goal and trailed 7-4 and 8-6, but Nick Murtha matched fellow first-year starter Jay Pfeifer save for save, and Boland had the best game of his short career.

The way Pfeifer described it, the last Blue Jay he expected to silence the Orangemen (4-1) was Boland, whom he had teamed with at Gilman School.

"We knew what they were going to do, but what surprised us was that Boland went to the goal," said Pfeifer, who finished with 15 saves. "He's usually more of a feeder."

On a day when Syracuse's Mike Powell was limited to a single assist by P.J. DiConza and the combination of a zone and Billy St. George kept Hopkins' Bobby Benson out of the scorebook for 57 minutes, both teams looked to their midfields for offense, and Boland delivered.

He entered with two goals in 14 career games, and exited with three goals and two assists. Held to four goals through 52 minutes, the Blue Jays stuck with their inverts - the midfielders working behind the cage and the attack in front - and Boland began to bedevil some short-stick defenders.

Down 7-4 heading into the final eight minutes, Kyle Harrison, the do-it-all freshman from Friends, started the comeback with a 13-yard rocket from the right side.

Boland fed Ford to get Hopkins within a goal, but Brian Solliday increased the Syracuse spread to 8-6 with 3:46 left. Checked by Jarett Park, a two-sport star who was named national freshman of the year by Soccer America, Boland scored with 2:10 left. With Corney Harned ailing, DiConza worked a wing on the ensuing faceoff, and his ground ball found its way to Boland, who dodged Brett Walther and fed Benson for an 8-8 tie with 2:10 remaining.

When Harrison was pushed on the faceoff, Hopkins gained possession and went back to its hot hand. Boland beat Park one more time with 1:21 left, as his game-winner gave the home team its only lead of the game. Danny Nee, a sophomore from Boys' Latin whose parents were the hosts of a dinner for the Syracuse traveling party at their Cockeysville home Friday, hit the left pole, and Murtha's 18th save snuffed Powell with 10 seconds left.

Since 2000, Syracuse is 0-3 against Pietramala-coached teams, and 32-2 against all other teams.

"We feel fortunate to win today," said Pietramala, who coached at Cornell before returning to his alma mater last season. "To be frank, I think our goalie bailed us out too many times today. Our goalie was wonderful today. So was theirs."

Syracuse was held to eight goals in a regular-season game for the first time in three years, as Murtha crammed seven saves into the fourth quarter. Pfeifer, whose father Jerry played for Hopkins and coached its football team from 1980 to '89, was spectacular through three quarters, but the Blue Jays overcame the Orangemen with a five-goal fourth period for the second straight year.

In the midst of a five-game road swing, Syracuse goes to Princeton next Saturday. The No. 1-to-be is headed to Virginia.

Syracuse 2 4 1 1 - 8

Johns Hopkins 1 3 0 5 - 9

Goals: S-Solliday 2, Wright, Springer, Park, Lindsay, Coffman, Vallone; JH-Boland 3, Ford 3, Doneger, Harrison, Benson. Assists: S-Wright, Hardy, Powell, Nee, Hogan; JH-Boland 2, LeSeur, Ford, McDermott. Saves: S-Pfeifer 15; JH-Murtha 18.

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