Young Hopkins team finds way past Towson, 10-6

Tied at half, Blue Jays stymie Tigers for nearly 36 minutes to open season with a win

February 20, 2011|By Mike Preston, The Baltimore Sun

When No. 11 Johns Hopkins defeated No. 20 Towson, 10-6, Saturday at Johnny Unitas Stadium, the Blue Jays became the first college lacrosse team to win 900 games.

It seems like most of them have come against Towson.

If there was a year for the Tigers (0-1) to upset Hopkins (1-0), this was the season because the Blue Jays are relying on young talent. But Hopkins outscored Towson 4-0 in the third quarter and that, combined with a Tigers scoring drought that lasted nearly 36 minutes, helped the Blue Jays win their 16th straight against Towson.

After 39 games between the two teams, Hopkins leads the series 36-3.

"We can't beat them late in the season, we can't beat them early in the season," said a frustrated Towson coach Tony Seaman.

Hopkins was led by attackman Kyle Wharton, who finished with three goals, and fellow attackmen Zach Palmer and Chris Boland (two goals each). Midfielder Pat Britton had two to pace the Tigers.

The teams were tied at four heading into the half, but the Blue Jays took control of the game in the third quarter. It wasn't as if Hopkins dominated the quarter, but Towson couldn't answer two, two-goal rallies by the Blue Jays.

Wharton scored on a man-up situation with 7 minutes, 56 seconds left in the third quarter and Palmer 78 seconds later. Then, with 3:35 remaining in the period, Wharton scored again and Boland followed with a goal 26 seconds later.

"It wasn't like we played that poorly, but they get that man-up goal, and then they come back with a regular goal," Seaman said. "Then later in the period, they scored two quick goals off the transition. Overall, I thought we played well, but we just didn't get it done in that 15-minute period."

Towson also ran into some questionable officiating. After Palmer scored to put Hopkins ahead 6-4, Tigers sophomore attackman Matt Hughes scored from the right of the goal outside the crease to pull Towson within one.

But Hughes was called for being in the crease even though instant replays indicated he wasn't. Another Towson goal was wiped out in the quarter.

"I looked up at the big [video] board and saw the Hopkins kids push him into the crease," Seaman said. "That's a big, big goal for us because it's now 6-5, but instead bang, bang, we're down 6-4, and then we're down two more later. Those things were momentum breakers, back-breakers for us."

After the strong third quarter, Hopkins was sloppy in the fourth and failed to put Towson away. Blue Jays coach Dave Pietramala knows he might be able to get away with such lackadaisical play early in the season against Towson, but not later in the year against a Maryland, Virginia or Syracuse.

Hopkins outshot Towson 35-29 and held a 36-23 advantage in ground balls. The Blue Jays also won 11 of 20 faceoffs.

"This is a challenging place for us to play," Pietramala said. "They [Towson] play differently here, they play with more of a swagger. I thought we showed our youth in this game. It's good to walk out of here with a win against a pretty good team, but we have to learn how to play the entire game. We got away with some mistakes late in the game."

Towson opened the game by playing a zone defense, which stymied Hopkins early. The Tigers had the ball for most of the first half, but the Blue Jays were more opportunistic as they led 3-1 at the midway point of the first quarter. Still, it was Towson that rallied to force a tie at halftime.

Towson went 35:22 without a goal after junior midfielder Carl Iacona scored with 10:30 left in the second quarter to put Towson ahead 4-3.

"You have to give Towson credit for playing that zone," Pietramala said. "It was a windy day, the ball has to be moved around and you get cold when you don't have the ball for a while. But I was pleased with the way we responded and moved the ball around.

"We went into halftime knowing we didn't have to make a lot of adjustments, we just had to do some things better. I liked the way our kids kept grinding, and I have told them that it's going to be that way all year."

J.Hopkins 3 1 4 2 -- 10

Towson 3 1 0 2 -- 6

Goals: JH--Wharton 3, Boland 2, Palmer 2, Benn, Coopersmith, Ruhl; T--Britton 2, Hughes, Iacona, Lamon, Thomas. Assists: JH--Palmer 3, Benn, Boland, Castronova, Greeley, Ranagan; T--Stratton. Saves: JH--Bassett 9; T--Love 10.

Johnny Unitas Stadium, Towson, MD 21204, USA

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