Jays rally, beat Mids for 32nd time in row

Four-goal 4th quarter boosts Hopkins' playoff hopes

Johns Hopkins 9 Navy 8

College lacrosse

April 23, 2006|By GARY LAMBRECHT | GARY LAMBRECHT,SUN REPORTER

Johns Hopkins did not walk into Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium as a desperate team yesterday, but the Blue Jays were staggering and badly in need of a victory in a series they have owned for more than three decades.

When the rain-soaked affair was over, No. 10 Hopkins was celebrating after recharging its season and reviving its playoff hopes, while No. 3 Navy was left to contemplate how another chance got away.

Sophomore attackman Kevin Huntley scored on a slow, bouncing shot from in close after getting knocked to the ground with 5:07 left to complete a dramatic fourth-quarter comeback. That lifted Hopkins to a 9-8 victory before 13,857, the largest crowd to see a college lacrosse game this season.

Hopkins, which did not grab its first lead until 50 minutes had passed, stretched the most lopsided series in the sport to a new high by beating Navy for the 32nd straight time. More important, the Blue Jays (6-4), coming off last week's 11-4 beating by Maryland, put themselves in strong position to make next month's NCAA tournament for the 35th straight season.

The Blue Jays finish their regular season with games against No. 12 Towson and No. 14 Loyola.

"For us right now, for our confidence, this could be one we look back on as the turning point in our season," Hopkins junior attackman Jake Byrne said. "This win is huge."

The Midshipmen (9-3) were left to ponder yet another gut-wrenching loss. For the fourth time in the past five meetings with Hopkins, Navy lost by one goal. Yesterday, the Mids squandered a 7-5 lead after three quarters, got whipped down the stretch in the faceoff game by Hopkins junior midfielder Jamie Koesterer and had to swallow defeat after out-shooting the Blue Jays, 49-28.

Junior attackman Ian Dingman was held scoreless. He and senior midfielder Billy Looney shot a combined 1-for-30 and missed the cage a combined 23 times.

Hopkins junior goalie Jesse Schwartzman stepped up when the Mids did shoot straight to make 10 saves, including five in a superb third quarter. With 4:45 left, Schwartzman stuffed Navy's last shot on goal - a fast-break 10-yarder by freshman defensive midfielder Geoff Leone.

Huntley and Byrne led the Blue Jays with two goals each. Both players scored to fuel Hopkins' four-goal fourth quarter. So did sophomore midfielder Paul Rabil, who was silent for three quarters, but contributed a goal and an assist in the fourth period.

Rabil gave the Blue Jays their first lead at 8-7 by scoring on a 10-yard runner from the left wing, then dumped the ball down low to Huntley for the game-winner, which trickled between the legs of Navy senior goalie Matt Russell (six saves).

"Paulie made a great play getting to the goal and drawing the slide," Huntley said. "I'm not sure what happened [after that]. There were a lot of bodies after I shot it. I didn't really see it go in."

"You don't want to put additional pressure on your players. [But] the bottom line was, to a certain degree, our backs were against the wall," said Blue Jays coach Dave Pietramala, who has never lost two games in a row at Hopkins and is 22-4 in one-goal games there.

"But we tried to preach all week this was a three-game season. I'm not interested in streaks. I'm interested in winning games and having the opportunity to get our team to the playoffs."

Navy, which got a six-point masterpiece (two goals, four assists) from senior attackman Jon Birsner and two-goal efforts from sophomore attackman Nick Mirabito and senior attackman/midfielder Taylor Harris, dominated possession time early, but never could grab control of the contest.

Poor shooting was a huge culprit. The Mids hurt Hopkins repeatedly with good ball movement and inside shots, but also came away empty too often without making Schwartzman work. In the final seconds of the third quarter, Looney's 8-yard shot hit the left pipe. Once again, the Mids failed to gain a three-goal cushion.

Hopkins then changed the game's momentum. Byrne spun inside, took a hit in close and flipped a shot by Russell to cut the lead to 7-6 with 13:45 left.

Freshman attackman Tom Duerr grabbed a loose ball on the ensuing faceoff and scored eight seconds later to tie the game at 7. With 9:40 left, after a save by Russell and a Mids turnover, Rabil gave the Blue Jays their first lead.

Mirabito tied the game, with an assist from Birsner, with 6:16 to go, setting up Huntley's heroics.

"I knew [Huntley] was going low. It hit my legs, went between my legs," Russell said. "Losing any game [stinks]. But Hopkins ... it's tough."

gary.lambrecht@baltsun.com

Johns Hopkins 1 3 1 4 - 9

Navy 1 4 2 1 - 8

Goals: Hopkins-Huntley 2, Byrne 2, Rabil, G. Peyser, S. Peyser, Duerr, Christopher; Navy- Birsner 2, Mirabito 2, Harris 2, Bitter, B. Looney; Assists: Hopkins-Rabil; Navy-Birsner 4, Higgins, Mirabito. Saves: Hopkins-Schwartzman 10; Navy-Russell 6.

Getting close

Johns Hopkins has beaten Navy 32 consecutive times, but since 2000, all but one meeting has been tight:

Year Site Score

2000 @Navy 7-6*

2001 @Hopkins 13-11

2002 @Navy 9-8

2003 @Hopkins 17-3

2004 @Navy 10-9*

2005 @Hopkins 9-8*

2006 @Navy 9-8

*-Overtime

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