Hopkins rallies, edges Heels on LeSueur's late goal, 10-9

Pietramala's fury at half helps No. 2 regain its form

College Lacrosse

April 04, 2004|By Kevin Van Valkenburg | Kevin Van Valkenburg,SUN STAFF

When Johns Hopkins lost to Virginia a week ago, Blue Jays coach Dave Pietramala didn't yell and he didn't curse. In fact, he barely even talked about it.

But when his team came out yesterday against North Carolina and looked as if it was still suffering from a Cavalier hangover in the first half, Pietramala decided to ditch the pleasantries and bring back the paint-peeling, fiery invective.

In the locker room, "I got a little upset," Pietramala said. "My assistant got a little upset, too. It just didn't feel like we were playing with the energy that we should have, and it didn't feel like we were playing with the energy that [North Carolina] deserved. ... All week we talked about putting last week behind us. At halftime, we wondered if maybe we'd made a mistake."

Whatever the problem was, second-ranked Johns Hopkins got it solved in the second half, and the result was a gritty 10-9 victory over the No. 5 Tar Heels at Homewood Field. Johns Hopkins has beaten North Carolina 10 straight times, but the last three have all been decided by one goal.

"It feels good because it goes down as a win, but the last few years they've come out and been real tough for us to beat," said Blue Jays attackman Peter LeSueur, who scored the game-winner with 56 seconds left. "You hope to not be in a one-goal game every week like this."

A quick start against North Carolina (5-3) might have erased the bad vibes from the Blue Jays' 9-8 overtime loss to Virginia in Charlottesville, but instead the sluggish first half only forced the second-ranked Blue Jays (6-1) to revisit it. The Tar Heels, thanks to faceoff specialist Kevin Frew, controlled the possession battle early, and as a result, Johns Hopkins had to play a lot of defense.

"Our game plan was to really slow it down on offense, and I think we did that really well," said North Carolina attackman Jed Prossner, who scored three goals. "They have a high-powered offense and we had to keep it away from them."

The strategy worked thanks to Prossner, a big (6-foot-2), athletic scorer from Easton who graduated from McDonogh. Prossner had a goal and an assist in the first half, helping North Carolina grab a 5-4 lead.

Both teams were emotional when the second half started, but after the Tar Heels went up 6-4, it was a failure to control that emotion that let Johns Hopkins back into the game. North Carolina defender Matt Pessagano was called for slashing, and the Blue Jays took advantage of the extra man, getting a goal from Conor Ford.

Minutes later, Bryant Will got an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty when he flipped the ball at Blue Jays defenseman Tom Garvey after he felt Garvey had pushed him after the whistle. Up a man again, Johns Hopkins tied the game at 6 on a goal by Jake Byrne. The difference down the stretch, however, was the play of John Hopkins goalie Scott Smith, who shook off a shaky first half and made 10 saves over the final two periods.

"Scott makes the easy ones look difficult by the nature of the way he plays sometimes," Pietramala said. "I think he gave up one or two he shouldn't have, but I think he took one or two away, also. I think we needed to get our goalie some help, though."

The Blue Jays finally regained the lead at 9-8 on Ford's third goal of the game with 9:53 to play, but Prossner wouldn't let the Tar Heels fold, scoring a pretty goal that tied the game with 4:48 left. On the play, Prossner was leveled by a Hopkins defender in front of the net, but on his way to the ground, he fired the ball past Smith.

"We really thought we were going to pull it out," Prossner said. "Credit Hopkins, though. They pulled through in the clutch and we didn't."

Blue Jays midfielder Kevin Boland made a beautiful spin move to free up LeSueur for his game-winner, which got LeSueur off the hook for a miss minutes earlier from inside 5 feet.

"You know what I'm most pleased with?" Pietramala said. "Last week we lost faceoffs and we lost the possession battle. Well, the same thing happened today, but we were able to sustain things and come away with a win."

North Carolina 2 3 3 1 - 9

Johns Hopkins 2 2 4 2 - 10

Goals: NC-Prossner 3, McCall 2, Zimmerman, Blair, Duffy, McElduff; JH-Ford 3, Harrison 2, Byrne 2, Rewkowski, LeSueur, Barrie. Assists: NC-Zimmerman 2, Blair, Henderson, Prossner, Will; JH-Rewkowski 3, LeSueur 2, Barrie, Boland, Dowd. Saves: NC-Spellman 10; JH-Smith 15.

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