Hopkins goes flat in hurry in 15-14 loss

Blue Jays drive to 8-2 lead but fall apart as Syracuse scores three in 19 seconds

`It was a tale of two halves'

Pietramala laments defensive breakdown

JHU'S B. Benson scores 5

March 16, 2003|By Dave Rahme | Dave Rahme,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

SYRACUSE, N.Y. - It was a remarkable about-face.

For nearly 30 minutes yesterday, the top-ranked Johns Hopkins lacrosse team dominated No. 4 Syracuse in every facet of the game, pulling ahead of the defending national champion by six goals with a dazzling display of balanced offense and defense.

Then, it all fell apart. The Orangemen scored three goals in the final 19 seconds of the second quarter, added five during the first 12 minutes of the third and held on for a 15-14 victory before 8,024 at the Carrier Dome.

Hopkins senior Bobby Benson scored two of his game-high five goals in the final 3:31 to pull the Blue Jays to within 15-14, and they got the ball back deep in their end with 11 seconds left but were unable to get off a desperation shot before the buzzer sounded.

"I felt we dominated them defensively in the first half," Hopkins coach Dave Pietramala said, "and I felt they dominated our defense in the second half. It was a tale of two halves."

Junior attackman Mike Powell, the 2002 Tewaaraton Trophy winner, ignited Syracuse's decisive 8-0 run, scoring three of the goals and assisting on three others. He finished with four goals and four assists.

"That's why I play lacrosse," he said. "That little rush right there during that run is about as close as I'll ever get to being a rock star. Once we get on a roll, we're pretty hard to beat."

Until Powell's eruption, it appeared Syracuse (3-1) was in more danger of getting rolled than going on a roll. The Blue Jays (3-1) received goals from seven players in the first half and pressured Syracuse at both ends of the field, forcing numerous turnovers and penalties.

"I didn't recognize the team that was on the field," Syracuse coach John Desko said. "We were standing still and breaking all the fundamental rules."

Benson's second goal of the first half put Hopkins up 8-2 with 1:56 left, and Pietramala appeared well on the way to his fourth straight coaching win over the Orangemen (one with Cornell, three with Hopkins), quite a feat considering that Syracuse has lost only seven games in the past three-plus seasons.

The last 19 seconds of the half changed everything. Powell fed Sean Lindsay for a goal, then got behind Hopkins' defense and redirected ground balls off faceoffs past Rob Scherr with nine and two seconds left, respectively, to make it 8-5 at the break.

"They are great plays, but they never should have happened," Pietramala said. "There should be sticks and arms on the ground before that happens. Mental lapses. We had controlled the tempo of the game for the most part, and then we let Mike Powell get behind us a few times. I sure would like to have that final 1:56 back."

Powell provided the offense, and senior faceoff specialist Chris Bickel provided Powell with the ball, winning 19 of 33 draws (57.6 percent), 11 of 16 during the second and third quarters when the Orangemen rallied.

"We were 14 of 33 facing off," Pietramala said. "That's a lot of ground balls and a lot of possessions for our opponent."

The result put Pietramala, the former All-America defenseman at Hopkins, in the strange position afterward of praising his offense and pointing a finger at his defense.

"What'd we put up, 14 on the board? That's a pretty good day at the office," he said. "But they scored 10 goals in the second half. If we hope to win a national championship, we shouldn't be giving anybody 10 goals in a game, let alone a half."

Or three in 19 seconds.

Johns Hopkins 4 4 1 5 - 14

Syracuse 1 4 5 5 - 15

Goals: JHU-B. Benson 5, Barrie 3, Harrison 2, Boland, Doneger, LeSueur, Peyser; S-Powell 4, Nee 3, Lindsay 3, Springer, Crockett, Vallone, Zink, Rommel. Assists: JHU-Boland 3, Barrie 2, Doneger 2, B. Benson, Ford, LeSueur; S-Powell 4, Spinger 3, Nee, Bickel, Crockett. Saves: JHU-Scherr 11; S- Pfeifer 13.

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