Harrison takes charge

Hopkins edges Navy, 9-8

Tying and winning goals among his 5 in OT victory

April 24, 2005|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,SUN STAFF

Fifth-ranked Navy strolled into Homewood Field yesterday and did everything in its power to end a long losing streak against No. 1 Johns Hopkins.

The Midshipmen buckled down on defense and silenced the Blue Jays' attack. They overcame a poor early showing in the faceoff game, then stunned Hopkins with a four-goal run in the third quarter. They had the Blue Jays on the ropes with less than a minute to play in regulation.

But Navy never could find an answer for Hopkins midfielder Kyle Harrison, who put on a career-high, five-goal show and saved his best for last.

First, Harrison forced overtime by muscling past two defenders on the right side of the crease and scoring with 23 seconds left.

Then, he put on a move on the left wing, charged in and fired home a 5-yard shot with 2:13 left to lift Hopkins to a 9-8 victory before 6,308.

The Blue Jays (10-0), the only unbeaten Division I team, extended their home winning streak to 33 and charged onto the field in celebratory relief.

Conversely, Navy (9-3) stood in stunned disappointment, contemplating their 31st consecutive loss to Hopkins.

It was a bitter defeat for Navy, which was trying to win at Hopkins for the first time since 1969.

But on a day when Hopkins got just one goal from its attack - a second-quarter, fast-break score by sophomore Jake Byrne that gave the Blue Jays a 5-3 halftime lead - and got out-played in the second half, the Blue Jays fell back on possibly the best player in the game.

"[Harrison] meant everything today. He is debatably the best player in the country, and I think he showed it today," said Hopkins midfielder Greg Peyser.

"I think we rode [Harrison's] back a little too much today. I'm not sure it's fair what we ask him to do at times," Hopkins coach Dave Pietramala said. "I tend to really lean on Kyle. I trust him."

Oh, did the Blue Jays need Harrison's marvelous combination of athleticism and stick skills. He missed only one shot in six tries, scored the game's first goal for the 14th time in his career and scored the Blue Jays' final three goals.

He won three of four faceoff attempts, grabbed six ground balls and played tenacious defense against Navy junior midfielder Steve Looney (one goal).

And after the Blue Jays gained the game's final possession on a controversial call, Harrison stepped up again.

"I didn't think it would necessarily come down to me," said Harrison, who barreled through defensive midfielder Dan Harris and defenseman Andrew Dow before tying the game at 8. " ... We've been down before. No one was panicking."

The Mids, who got single goals from eight different players, had their chance. After falling behind 6-3 early in the third quarter, Navy regained control facing off, then ripped off four goals in a span of 3:42.

Attackman Jon Birsner and Looney started it, midfielder Tommy Wallin tied it at 6 with 5:09 left in the third, and five seconds later, after the Mids won another faceoff, attackman Ben Horn put the Mids on top 7-6.

Harrison tied the game at 7 with 12:20 left on a 12-yard runner from the right side. Then, the Mids held the ball for more than nine minutes over their next two possessions and finally broke through when freshman attackman Nick Mirabito slipped through the defense, took a pass from Birsner and scored from point-blank range to make it 8-7 with 58 seconds left.

Navy could have won it after winning the overtime faceoff, but Looney took an ill-advised shot that went out of bounds. Navy midfielder Graham Gill appeared to beat Hopkins long-stick middie Brendan Skakandi to the line. After a minute of confusion, the officials ruled the possession in Hopkins' favor.

"The calls and all of that stuff don't matter. [Hopkins] beat us," Navy coach Richie Meade said. "Kyle Harrison is a great, great player. He's just one of those guys with great judgment and great skills. We defended him as well as we can. He was the difference."

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