Hopkins gives Towson opening, quickly shuts door in 14-11 win

Tigers start with 3-0 lead

Jays' goal barrage follows

College Lacrosse

April 28, 2002|By Paul McMullen | Paul McMullen,SUN STAFF

When it quickly fell behind No. 15 Towson yesterday, the Johns Hopkins lacrosse team kept its composure. That focus grew a bit fuzzy in the fourth quarter, however, as Dave Pietramala didn't look like the coach of a top-ranked crew that registered eight straight goals en route to a 14-11 victory.

Towson scored the first three goals and seven of the last eight. In between, Hopkins excelled just about everywhere, its dominance crystallized in a 32-second stretch at the end of the first half that was the difference in front of 3,572 at Homewood Field.

If only the Blue Jays hadn't acquiesced after they assumed a 13-5 lead midway through the third quarter.

It seems silly to complain about the finishing ability of a team that is 4-0 in one-goal games, but when the Blue Jays (10-1) drew a holding penalty shortly after their 8-0 spurt was stopped by Towson's first goal in 15 minutes, Pietramala erupted.

He did not want a repeat of Hopkins' April 6 visit to Ohio State, where it nearly blew a 7-0 lead - or last year's meeting at Towson, where the Tigers erased a 12-6 deficit and the Blue Jays won on a late goal by Bobby Benson.

"We didn't play well with the lead at all," Pietramala said. "I thought we lost our focus, especially at the defensive end. We had done a great job of stopping Towson's transition game, but then we got selfish, playing not to lose rather than win. We missed some slides because we didn't want our guy to be the guy who scored."

It was Senior Day at Homewood Field for a class that signed with Hopkins in 1998, when Towson coach Tony Seaman was the Blue Jays' boss. Two of those veterans, goalie Nick Murtha and defenseman P.J. DiConza, know that absorbing Pietramala's message is a must in a season in which there is little margin for error.

"That goes to show you how competitive college lacrosse is," Murtha said. "When you play any team in the Top 20, there's a chance you could lose. We're the ticket to the playoffs for a lot of teams. Towson had nothing to lose, and they played like it."

Towson connected on its first three shots and the Blue Jays didn't attempt one until the sixth minute. Freshman Kyle Harrison got an edge on Zak Smith, who came in with a .701 faceoff percentage that was the best in the land, and the Blue Jays went on a 5-1 run.

Peter LeSueur put Hopkins ahead to stay at 6-5 with 3:29 left in the half, and the Blue Jays fired in three goals in the final 34 seconds before the break.

Benson, who had a game-high four goals, shot over John Hunt's right shoulder, and Seaman's complaints led to a technical foul and another possession for the Blue Jays.

Hunt got a stick on, but couldn't save, Kyle Barrie's shot with nine seconds left. Harrison won the faceoff, and passed to Barrie. He got it to Benson, who passed up a good shot for a better one by Conor Ford, who made it 9-5 with two seconds left in the half.

The Hopkins run continued with four unanswered goals in the first seven minutes of the third quarter as the Blue Jays connected on 11 of their first 18 shots.

"We lost the game in the middle 20 minutes," said Seaman, whose team dropped to 0-5 against Top 15 competition. "The only people we do well against are the people who aren't as good as us."

Towson 4 1 3 3 - 11

Johns Hopkins 3 6 5 0 - 14

Goals: T-Campbell 3, Chane 2, Reppert, Meerholz, Florio, Lochte, Tankersley, Obloj; J-Benson 4, Barrie 3, LeSueur 3, Ford 2, Harrison, Hanna. Assists: T- Monaco 3, Cornett, Obloj; J-Boland 3, LeSueur 3, Ford, Harrison, Benson. Saves: T-Hunt 1, Sothoron 5; J-Murtha 10.

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