During Saturday's American Lacrosse Conference opener between Johns Hopkins and Florida, there were 34 players from the Baltimore-metro area on the field and sidelines.
The Gators, however, are playing their first season of Division I women's lacrosse and Johns Hopkins' experience proved to be the difference. The Blue Jays dominated the second half for a 16-8 rain-swept victory at Homewood Field. Candace Rossi scored five goals for Johns Hopkins, and leads the team with 18 this season.
"Florida has an outstanding new program and we knew they were going to be tough, aggressive and fast," Johns Hopkins coach Janine Tucker said. "We've had a couple of games where we were ahead at halftime and then we lost the lead. We really focused on trying to kick it in the second half and possess the ball and take good shots."
Florida (3-3 overall, 0-1 American Lacrosse Conference) has laid a foundation for its program with 17 of its 29 players from the Baltimore area on its roster. The Blue Jays (4-3, 1-0) also have 17 players from the area.
Sam Schrum (St. Mary's), Brianna Cronin and Colleen McCaffrey each had three goals for the Blue Jays. Freshman goalie Cosette Larash (Archbishop Spalding) came up big for Johns Hopkins with five saves, including several from point-blank range. Kitty Cullen (McDonogh) led Florida with three goals.
The teams traded goals for much of the first half, but Johns Hopkins led 7-5 at the break. The Blue Jays then dominated the second half and opened a 10-6 lead in the opening eight minutes on goals by Schrum, Paige Ibello (Maryvale) and Rossi. Schrum and Ibello have now scored at least one goal in eight consecutive games.
"It's kind of fun going out and playing against girls you went to high school with," Schrum said. "It's really fun to have that rivalry come back for a little bit."
The Blue Jays outshot the Gators 33-16 and won the ground-ball battle, 21-19. The Gators controlled 15 draws, compared to 11 for the Blue Jays. Florida was hurt by 31 turnovers.
Johns Hopkins opened a six-goal cushion on a goal by McCaffrey with 14:41 remaining in the game. The Blue Jays controlled most of the possession, and their effective riding kept Florida from threatening the rest of the way. Rossi and McCaffrey scored 16 seconds apart and Johns Hopkins led 15-7 with five minutes remaining. Brooke Foussadier scored Johns Hopkins' final goal with 25 seconds left.
"Obviously, Hopkins is a very talented team. They are very athletic and very well-coached," Florida coach Amanda O'Leary said. "I think their ride was fantastic. It really shut us down. They did a great job."