The Johns Hopkins men's lacrosse team could barely generate a lick of offense yesterday against visiting Princeton, and as a result, the streak is over.
The fourth-ranked Blue Jays (1-1), hindered by shooting, clearing and turnover problems and bothered by an aggressive Princeton defense, led only once before falling to the seventh-ranked Tigers, 6-4, before 5,636 at chilly, windy Homewood Field.
Princeton (2-0) won for the first time at Hopkins in six years and ended the Blue Jays' home winning streak at 37 games - one shy of taking sole possession of the NCAA Division I record.
Before yesterday, the defending national champions had not lost at home since March 24, 2001. The defeat also marked Hopkins' first since Syracuse eliminated the Blue Jays in the semifinals of the 2004 NCAA tournament.
This was a painful way to lose. On a day when Hopkins junior goalie Jesse Schwartzman led a solid defensive effort by making 14 saves, including nine in an outstanding first half, the Blue Jays failed to pick it up elsewhere. They were sloppy in the middle of the field, blowing seven of 22 clearing attempts. Offensively, they committed 15 turnovers, missed on 28 of 32 attempted shots, and managed just one goal in each quarter.
It marked Hopkins' lowest scoring output since an 8-4 defeat against Princeton in the 2001 season opener, which was sixth-year coach Dave Pietramala's debut. It also marked the first time in 40 years that the Blue Jays had given up as few as six goals and lost.
"Behind closed doors, we were talking about the streak," said senior midfielder Greg Peyser, who won seven of nine faceoffs, but also shot 1-for-11 and lost the ball numerous times early. "This is our home. This is our field. We don't lose here, and we lost. We take that to heart. [Princeton] played well, but we missed a bunch of shots. We got open looks. It's part of the game."
Led by junior defensemen John Bennett and Zachary Jungers, Princeton muzzled Hopkins sophomore attackman Kevin Huntley (one assist) and held sophomore midfielder Paul Rabil to one goal. And after outplaying Hopkins early but settling for a 2-2 halftime tie because of Schwartzman's play, the Tigers overcame a 3-2, third-quarter deficit by running off four straight scores, then got four fourth-quarter saves from sophomore goalie Alex Hewit.
Junior attackman Peter Trombino, who moved to midfield in the second half when the Tigers lost junior Mike Gaudio to a right knee injury, scored twice from 15-yard range in a span of 1:40 to give the Tigers a 4-3 lead with 3:51 left in the third period. Sophomore midfielder Trip Cowin then beat Hopkins defensive midfielder Matt Feild before scoring with 1:19 left in the quarter, and freshman midfielder Josh Lesko made it 6-3 with 13:38 to go by finishing a fast break from the deep right wing.
It didn't help that the Blue Jays, who lost four starters from last year's unbeaten squad, were without heralded freshman attackman Tom Duerr (shoulder) and sophomore midfielder Stephen Peyser, who is out for several weeks with a broken jaw. Duerr could return next weekend.
"We have a young team, and we have injuries, and we could stay here all day and make excuses. There are none. Our injuries didn't hurt us in our clearing game," Pietramala said. "We played an awful lot of defense today, and we didn't do a good job of getting the ball to our offense. It's been a long time since we lost around here. The most important thing is how you handle that loss."