CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - Not a day goes by that Johns Hopkins men's lacrosse coach Dave Pietramala doesn't give Kyle Harrison an earful to exhort the sophomore midfielder to play up to his potential.
So it was that Pietramala looked squarely at Harrison yesterday afternoon during halftime of the No. 1 Blue Jays' game at eighth-ranked North Carolina and said, "All right, you took the first half off 18, now start playing."
"It kind of [ticked] me off a bit and got me going," Harrison said after the game, smiling. "He knows what to say."
Pietramala's challenge worked wonders as the former All-Metro player at Friends scored two of his career-high three goals after halftime - including the game-winner in overtime - to lead the Blue Jays to an 11-10 lacrosse victory in front of 2,953 at Fetzer Field.
Harrison, who entered the game with only six goals on the year, also won 10 of 14 faceoffs - including the last four of the game - and collected nine ground balls.
"I say something to him every day because he's got more God- given ability than most guys I've ever coached," Pietramala said. "And today he showed it."
Harrison's outburst prevented the Blue Jays (5-1) from a letdown after last week's 8-7 win against then top-ranked Virginia. But his performance did not completely overshadow the vulnerabilities, especially on the defensive end, that Carolina exposed in Hopkins.
"I think this comes at a pretty opportune time because it allows us to reel our defense back in and refocus them," Pietramala said. "Carolina exploited a couple things to their credit. And offensively, I think we got a little selfish at times. It's better to learn a lesson and not lose, and I think today will be a huge lesson for us without taking a step back in terms of wins and losses."
It was very nearly a painful lesson for the Blue Jays. Leading by three goals early in the second quarter, Hopkins allowed three consecutive goals and was held scoreless for a stretch of 15:06.
The game turned into a seesaw battle from that point on until attackman Jed Prossner (McDonogh), who finished with two goals and three assists, launched a left-handed shot from 12 yards that put the Tar Heels (5-3) up 10-8 with 7:21 remaining in the game.
But when the Tar Heels got called for delay of game, then were hit with a penalty for having too many men on the field with 2:13 left, the Blue Jays went to work. Midfielder Adam Doneger shook off a shot that had hit the crossbar 10 seconds earlier and converted attackman Kyle Barrie's pass from 10 yards to slice the lead to 10-9 with 1:36 left.
Harrison dutifully won the ensuing faceoff, and Doneger played feeder this time, dishing the ball to attackman Peter LeSueur. LeSueur then fired a low, left-handed shot that beat goalkeeper Paul Spellman (St. Paul's) on his left side and tied the score at 10 with 1:16 to go.
That set up Harrison's overtime heroics.
First, he won the opening faceoff of the extra period, sweeping the ball over to midfielder Corey Harned, who collected the ground ball. After a Hopkins timeout, Harrison took the ball up top, dodged right on Carolina defenseman Ronnie Staines (Severn) and whipped a shot that nestled into the left side of the goal with 3:04 to go.
"Honestly, I didn't think I was going to be that open," Harrison said. "Because I saw that they put the pole on me and not Adam. And so I was just dodging to hopefully maybe draw a slide so I could get the ball to Adam. And then I got a step on the pole, and I was fortunate enough to be able to put it in the goal."
And fortunate enough to save Hopkins, which is now 11-3 in one-goal games since the start of the 2001 season.
"Coach Pietramala pushes us as hard as any coach could because he doesn't want this to go to our heads," said Barrie, who scored a game-high four goals. "He likes what we're doing, but he definitely knows that we haven't hit our peak yet and there's room for improvement in everything that we do."
Johns Hopkins 3 2 2 3 1 - 11
North Carolina 1 4 4 1 0 - 10
Goals: JHU-Barrie 4, Harrison 3, Boland 2, Doneger, LeSueur; UNC-Will 2, Prossner 2, McCall 2, Zimmerman, Garrison, Blair, Bell. Assists: JHU-LeSeuer 2, Ford, Barrie, Doneger; UNC-Prossner 3, McCall, Will, Garrison. Saves: JHU-Scherr 9; UNC-Spellman 16.