Hopkins women claim their first Top 10 team

12th-ranked Blue Jays edge No. 9 Vanderbilt, 12-11, keep eye on NCAAs

College Lacrosse

April 05, 2004|By Katherine Dunn | Katherine Dunn,SUN STAFF

For five seasons, Johns Hopkins has taken small steps toward becoming one of the top women's lacrosse teams in Division I. Now, the No. 12 Blue Jays appear to be taking a giant step.

With yesterday's nail-biter of a 12-11 victory over American Lacrosse Conference foe No. 9 Vanderbilt, the Blue Jays improved to 10-0 - their best start since moving up to Division I in 1999.

"In the history of Hopkins, we've never beaten a Top 10-ranked team, so this is amazing. It's the best feeling I've had," said senior Heidi Pearce, who led the Blue Jays with four goals including the game-winner.

After improving to 4-0 in the conference, coach Janine Tucker's Blue Jays also moved closer to a possible first Division I NCAA tournament appearance. The conference regular-season champion will receive an automatic tournament bid for the first time this season. The conference season is six games.

"One of our main goals is to win the conference and make it to the NCAAs," said Pearce, "and every game is another step toward that NCAA goal."

Yesterday, the Blue Jays overcame Vanderbilt (5-3, 1-1) with an aggressive defense, some late offensive punch and a final stall that lasted nearly six minutes.

For most of the afternoon, neither team managed to sustain much momentum. The game featured six ties. Every statistical category was nearly even except one - shots. The Blue Jays had a 24-18 edge, 11-5 in the second half.

Trailing 10-9 after Michelle Allen fed Christiana Serle to give the Commodores their last lead, the Blue Jays strung together three goals in less than five minutes.

Hopkins freshman Mary Key, who finished with two goals and three assists, fed Erin Riordan to tie with 11:48 to go and then raced to goal off the draw to bounce one inside the near post to give Hopkins an 11-10 lead.

The two teams then traded turnovers for a while, before Blue Jays defender Kristen Miller forced a Vanderbilt turnover near the restraining line. Seconds later, Pearce converted the game-winner on a crisp bounce shot past Commodores goalie Ashley Bastinelli.

With 7:33 left, the Blue Jays had their first two-goal lead of the day, but Allen, a Liberty High graduate who had four goals and three assists, converted a free position with 6:14 left to pull the Commodores within 12-11.

But the Blue Jays controlled the next draw, and the Commodores would not have possession again until the final 43 seconds.

The Blue Jays went into a stall and held onto the ball until Bastinelli knocked down a pass and won the loose ball with 43 seconds to go. The Commodores wouldn't even get past midfield, as Marlena Wittelsberger forced another Vanderbilt turnover with 23 seconds left.

"Hopkins did exactly what they needed to do," said Vanderbilt coach Cathy Swezey. "It's always frustrating to be on the defensive side of that. We did our best to get the ball back ... but our team played ourselves into that situation. I think we played a little bit flat from the 15- minute mark on. Hopkins gained a little bit of energy and fire, and we kind of slowed down a little bit."

Vanderbilt 7 4 - 11

Johns Hopkins 5 7 - 12

Goals: V-Allen 4, Hickman 3, Peck 2, Roguski, Serle; JH-Pearce 4, Key 2, Riordan 2, Wittelsberger, Janice, Putnam, Voight. Assists: V-Allen 3, Devlin; JH-Key 3, Pearce. Saves: V-Bastinelli 6; JH-Riddick 6.

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