Hopkins slips past Navy on Ford's OT goal, 10-9

Fifth of day for senior lifts No. 1 Jays over No. 2 Mids

April 25, 2004|By Jeff Zrebiec | Jeff Zrebiec,SUN STAFF

The matchup between the two top-ranked men's lacrosse teams in the country was fittingly decided by inches.

Conor Ford's fifth goal of the afternoon, with three seconds left in the first overtime, ended a classic game, giving top-ranked Johns Hopkins a 10-9 victory over No. 2 Navy yesterday before 18,694 at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.

It was the Blue Jays' 30th straight victory over the Midshipmen.

"I think there was four inches where I could have put it," said Ford, a senior attackman whose five goals matched a career high he recorded in his first start as a freshman - against Navy. "I'm really just relieved."

Stationed about 3 yards from the goal and to the left of Navy goalie Matt Russell, Ford took a feed from Matt Rewkowski and threaded a shot from a tough angle past two Navy defenders and off the hip of Russell.

"I was seeing the ball well today, but I didn't see that last one," said Russell, who made 13 saves, several in spectacular fashion. "One of my players was in front of me and I didn't see it until it hit the back of the net."

Ford also scored with 48 seconds left in regulation to send the game into overtime as Hopkins (9-1), which led 6-3 at halftime and 7-5 at the end of the third period, watched the Mids (10-2) go on a four-goal run in about four minutes to take a 9-7 lead with 5:19 remaining.

After his overtime goal, the Blue Jays rushed off the sidelines, celebrating their win and marking an end to a tumultuous week for Hopkins, which has been mourning the stabbing death of junior Christopher Elser, a former Blue Jays soccer player.

Making matters worse was the suspension of sophomore midfielder Greg Peyser for a violation of team policy. Peyser was arrested in connection with a fight hours after his team's emotional win over Maryland on April 17.

In place of Peyser, whose status will be evaluated this week according to Blue Jays coach Dave Pietramala, junior Lou Braun won 10 of 12 faceoffs.

"We've had to deal with some adversity this week, and I'm awfully proud of my guys," Pietramala said. "If we hadn't won the game, that wouldn't have been an excuse. It would've been that we lost to a very good Navy team."

Navy coach Richie Meade, whose team has lost five of the past seven meetings with Hopkins by two goals or fewer, is tiring of moral victories.

"I'm sick and tired of being the little brother that gets patted on the head and told you're such a good kid," Meade said. "I'm a little brother and I got a chip on my shoulder. We expected to beat them."

It appeared the Mids would do just that as a wild fourth quarter unfolded with Ben Bailey (three goals) and Joe Bossi scoring in a two-minute span to tie the game at 7.

Bailey scored again for the Mids, and the lead grew to 9-7 at the 5:19 mark as Bossi finished a picture-perfect sequence for Navy.

Steve Looney picked up a loose ball, sprinted up the field and passed to Ian Dingman, who then fed Jon Birsner, who spotted Bossi open in the crease for the goal.

Braun won the ensuing faceoff, and Harrison fired a laser shot over Russell's shoulder at the 4:42 mark to cut Navy's lead to 9-8. "We were down before and we weren't panicking," said Hopkins junior midfielder Kyle Harrison, who scored three goals. "We knew we'd get our opportunities."

With his team trailing by one, Blue Jays goalie Scott Smith was called for slashing with 2:41 left, but on the extra-man opportunity, Navy turned the ball over.

On the turnover, it appeared the Mids' pass was deflected by the Blue Jays' Chris Watson, but the officials conferred and gave the ball to Hopkins, which then got Ford's tying goal on a rising shot from 8 yards.

"Twenty thousand people saw the stuff that happened. We'll leave it at that," Bailey said. "[The ball] was coming my way at one point, I'll tell you that."

Each team had two possessions in overtime before Ford scored the game-winner.

"Usually after a Hopkins game like this, there's a lot worse feelings," Bailey said. "It's usually a letdown because that was our season; that was the big dog we had to beat to get to the NCAA tournament. They better win out, because we will, and we'll see them again."

Johns Hopkins 1 5 1 2 1 - 10 Navy 2 1 2 4 0 - 9

Goals: JHU-Ford 5, Harrison 3, Barrie, Boland; N-Bailey 3, Dingman 2, Bossi 2, B. Looney, S. Looney. Assists: JHU-Boland 4, Braun, Byrne, Rewkowski; N-B. Looney 2, Birsner 2, S. Looney, Dingman. Saves: JHU-Smith 6, Schwartzman 0; N-Russell 13.

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