Hopkins rolls past UNC

Johns Hopkins 11 North Carolina 5


The arrival of April normally brings favorable results for the Johns Hopkins men's lacrosse team and yesterday's change in the month proved no different.

With 2,804 looking on at windswept Homewood Field, the Blue Jays won their 23rd consecutive April game, exploiting the youth and careless ball-handling of North Carolina in an 11-5 triumph that prevented them from losing their second in a row for the first time in more than six years.

The struggling Tar Heels (2-8) watched their faint NCAA tournament hopes evaporate altogether during an unanswered four-goal Hopkins run in the third period that provided optimism for a late-season Blue Jay surge.

Tenth-ranked Hopkins (4-3) has lost only one April game since the beginning of the 1997 season.

"This was huge for us, do or die," said Blue Jay senior Greg Peyser, who topped a balanced attack with three goals and an assist. "Our backs were up against the wall. We know we need to be at least .500 to make the playoffs and this was a start. We need every win we can get."

"They are all big now," Hopkins coach Dave Pietramala said. "We approached it like that. After playing Virginia last week, we took it easy Monday and real light Friday, so I thought we were fresh. Actually, we felt like there was more pressure on Carolina than us."

It certainly seemed that way to Tar Heels coach John Haus, whose team liberally sprinkled with underclassmen absorbed its eighth straight defeat against a brutal schedule (all top 20 teams).

"It's frustrating," Haus said. "I certainly thought we were better than we're showing right now. It all starts at the top and I take responsibility for that. We make far too many mistakes to be able to compete at this level, especially with the schedule we play. And I can't get my troops to play well in the second half for some reason."

Freshman goaltender Grant Zimmerman (Gilman) helped keep the Tar Heels within striking distance at the half with six first-half saves, several of them spectacular ones, but in the third period, everything caved in on him as the team suffered a 13th successive loss to the Blue Jays.

First Peyser beat him on an unassisted goal, then Jake Byrne cashed in on an extra-man situation to push the Blue Jays ahead, 7-3. Before the quarter ended, freshman Brian Christopher hit the net from 20-plus yards away for his second score and a Peyser shot dribbled in on Zimmerman after a feed from Christopher.

"The goalie was eating up all the low shots, so I decided to put them up high," Christopher said. "I got lucky and a few went in. Everyone is starting to get back now [from injury] and we're starting to make like a team."

Pietramala was pleased with several facets of his team's play, particularly citing goalie Jesse Schwartzman, defender Matt Pinto, who held Tar Heels leading scorer Ryan Blair scoreless, and Christopher for his "good shot selection."

"But we're not even close to being where we need to be," he said. "We turned the ball over a little in the clearing game and got out-groundballed [39-36]. We've got a lot of young guys and it's going to take time to grow up."

"We're in a different situation now," said Peyser, a key member of last season's national titlist. "We're not going 16-0 and being a No. 1 seed. We can't look back."

Hopkins was scheduled to go to Duke next week for a rematch of the 2005 national championship game, but that has been postponed indefinitely. Instead, the Blue Jays will host Mount St. Mary's tomorrow night, giving them 12 regular-season starts.

"I'm happy we're going to play 12," Peyser said. "We'll take this opponent no lighter than anyone else. We can't afford to do that." kent.baker@baltsun.com

North Carolina 1 2 0 2 -- 5

Johns Hopkins 2 3 4 2 -- 11

Goals: NC--Wagner 2, Connors, S. Walterhoefer, Burns; JH--G. Peyser 3, Christopher 2, Huntley 2, Rabil. Byrne, Bryan, Doneger. Assists: NC--McAuley, R. Walterhoefer; JH--Rabil 2, Byrne, Christopher, Dabrowski, G. Peyser. Saves: NC--Zimmerman 11; JH--Schwartzman 12, Locey.

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