Hopkins blows lead, still edges Tar Heels

Benson finds net late to lift Jays, 12-11, after 5-goal bulge vanishes

College Lacrosse

March 30, 2002|By Jeff Zrebiec | Jeff Zrebiec,SUN STAFF

One of these days, the Johns Hopkins men's lacrosse team is going to make life a little easier on its coach, Dave Pietramala.

But no matter, playing against former coach John Haus and upstart North Carolina, the young Blue Jays once again showed their mettle. After their five-goal third-quarter lead was erased, the Blue Jays got a goal from attackman Bobby Benson with 3:29 left that proved to be the game-winner in fourth-ranked Hopkins' 12-11 victory over No. 8 North Carolina last night before 5,667 fans at Homewood Field.

It was a different scenario for the Blue Jays, who have staged two big fourth-quarter comebacks, and looked shaky last night in protecting the lead.

Benson, who has gotten off to a slow start this season and had just six goals coming into the game, scored twice and added three assists.

"The last few games I feel like I have been letting my teammates down," Benson said. "I don't know what I would have done if I didn't finish a couple of my shots."

Freshman Kyle Barrie had three goals and an assist, junior Adam Doneger had three goals and sophomore Conor Ford had a goal and three assists for Hopkins (5-1) as the Blue Jays took another step toward clinching an at-large bid for the NCAA tournament.

"The whole week we've been saying that this was a big game, and I think it was evident with the way the two teams played out there," said Ford, a St. Paul's alum.

The Tar Heels got two goals each from Pat Jackson (Loyola), Steven Will (Dulaney), Mike McCall and Tim Gosier, but were in the game largely because of goalkeeper Paul Spellman, who made 16 saves.

The Blue Jays never trailed, and had first-half leads of 4-1 and 6-2. But the Tar Heels (6-2), kept afloat mostly by Spellman's play, answered Hopkins after every turn.

Leading just 7-6 after North Carolina's Bryant Will (Dulaney) scored, the Blue Jays would score four straight goals to take an 11-6 lead with about a minute to play in the third quarter.

Ford, Doneger, Peter LeSueur and Kevin Boland (Gilman) would score during that stretch.

North Carolina cut the lead to 11-7 on Gosier's goal, and it would be 11-9 when Steven and Bryant Will each scored in the first five minutes of the final quarter.

Gosier then found the back of the net, firing a left-handed blast by the left hip of Hopkins goalie Nick Murtha (13 saves) to make the score 11-10 with 7:25 to play. The comeback was complete when Jackson took a pass from Johnny Selvoid and ripped a shot past Murtha from 10 yards out to tie the game at 11.

"We got complacent on the defensive end, and they made the most of the opportunities we gave them," Pietramala said.

"When it was 11-6, we had the chance to put them away and we didn't."

But as they have done all year, Hopkins provided the late-game heroics.

Boland worked behind the net and found Benson, who was left alone to the right of Spellman's crease for the easy putaway.

Murtha would make two saves on Gosier and Johns Hopkins ran out the clock for its seventh straight victory over the Tar Heels.

"We showed a lot of heart," Haus said. "We played hard even when we were down, but we still are very disappointed about not winning this game."

Haus left Hopkins after a two-year stint and returned to Chapel Hill to coach his alma mater. This is his second seasons at the helm of the Tar Heels.

From the start, the Blue Jays, many of whom Haus had recruited, didn't exactly break out the red carpet for his return.

Barrie scored his second goal of the game to make it 5-2 with just under two minutes gone in the second quarter. The lead grew to four when Barrie, stationed behind the net, threaded a pass between two defenders to Benson, who scored.

But the rest of the half belonged to Spellman, who made 11 first-half saves and was the main reason the Tar Heels went into the half trailing only 6-5, despite getting outshot 26-12.

North Carolina 2 3 2 4 - 11

Johns Hopkins 4 2 5 1 - 12

Goals: NC-S.Will 2, McCall 2, Gosier 2, Jackson 2, B.Will, Lucas, Bell; JHU-Doneger 3, Barrie 3, Benson 2, Ford, LeSueur, Boland, McDermott. Assists: NC-Lucas 2, S.Will, B.Will, Prossner, Seivold; JHU-Ford 3, Benson 3, Barrie, Boland. Saves: NC-Spellman 16; JHU-Murtha 13.

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