No. 20 Johns Hopkins flusters No. 14 Loyola in 9-6 win

Blue Jays state claim for NCAA tournament berth with win over Greyhounds

  • Hopkins' Marshall Burkhardt checks the ball out of the stick of Loyola's Taylor Ebsary in the second half.
Hopkins' Marshall Burkhardt checks the ball out of the… (Baltimore Sun photo by Lloyd…)
May 08, 2010|By Mike Preston | The Baltimore Sun

Loyola attackman Collin Finnerty best summed up the Greyhounds' frustrations in facing Johns Hopkins goalie Pierce Bassett after Saturday's game.

"We tested all of our offenses out there. We had some good looks, and we couldn't bury them," Finnerty said.

The only thing that might have been buried in front of a crowd of nearly 3,000 at Ridley Athletic Complex was No.14 Loyola's playoff hopes. Paced by Bassett's 20 saves, No. 20 Johns Hopkins kept its postseason aspirations alive with a resounding 9-6 win over the Greyhounds. Now it's just a matter of waiting for the NCAA tournament selection committee's decision.

The 16-team Division I field will be announced tonight. Was the win by Hopkins on Saturday enough to get the Blue Jays (7-7) in? Did the loss knock the Greyhounds (9-4) out of consideration?

Let the lobbying begin.

"Our schedule is selection-friendly," Hopkins coach Dave Pietramala said. "In the past, our schedule allowed us to have opportunities for big wins, and even though we don't have a lot this year, we got one today over a Top 10 team. If the committee wants to go by numbers like they have for the last couple of years, then our schedule is top four, and our RPI is a top 10 or 11. If we had lost today, then our season would be over, but at least we put ourselves in the discussion."

Loyola coach Charley Toomey is on the selection committee. When the Greyhounds are presented, Toomey will have to leave the room. Loyola's best wins were over Navy, Towson and Georgetown, with the victory over the Hoyas the top achievement. But Loyola has also lost its past two games.

"At this point, it is in the hands of the committee," Toomey said. "This is my first year, and they say each committee has its own personality, whether it's numbers, strength of schedule or big wins. We're going to hope that our body of work states that we're one of the 10 at-large teams to make our point to be part of the process. I told our seniors in the locker room that I like to believe we're worthy of being part of the tournament."

The Blue Jays want to be part of the tournament because they have Bassett, and a hot goalie can take a team far. In the past three games, Bassett has a remarkable .720 save percentage.

"The guy is growing up," Pietramala said. "Where was he three or four games ago?"

Bassett did get help from his defense. The Blue Jays did a nice job of forcing the Greyhounds to their weak hand, and a lot of Loyola's shots were soft and predictable. Patrick Fanshaw scored a goal with 10:34 left in the third quarter, and Loyola didn't score again until there were less than eight seconds remaining in the game.

Hopkins had no such problems on offense. Junior attackman Kyle Wharton had five goals, but it was the Blue Jays' midfield that took the Greyhounds apart, especially senior Michael Kimmel, who had two goals and an assist.

Most of the Blue Jays' offense was generated in the midfield. At first, the Jays challenged the Greyhounds middies with runs, and then once Loyola's defense started to slide, passed unselfishly to open teammates.

Loyola outshot Hopkins 41-22, but the Blue Jays had more quality opportunities. The shots were from close range -- so close, in fact, that Toomey replaced starting goalie Jake Hagelin with Alex Peaty after Wharton scored with 9:50 left in the third quarter to put Hopkins ahead 7-4.

"We watched them a lot on film, and they put guys on an island a lot," Pietramala said of Loyola's defensive midfielders. "That's a tribute to their coaching staff and the confidence in their players. We wanted to force them to slide to the midfield, and we're happy with the effort."

Loyola was without senior defender Steve Layne, who missed his second straight game with a knee sprain. Losing him was huge for the Greyhounds because Layne is the team's quarterback on defense and he calls out the formations. The Greyhounds were late in sliding for most of the game, giving Hopkins great offensive looks.

The Greyhounds hope to have Layne back for the postseason -- if there is one for Loyola. Hopkins wants to be in the postseason picture as well. The Blue Jays, though, made a much stronger case for themselves Saturday.

mike.preston@baltsun.com

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