Hopkins players celebrate a first-half goal by Chris Lightner. (Baltimore Sun photo by Lloyd…)
For the first time in a long time, the Johns Hopkins men's lacrosse team didn't fold.
After sprinting to a four-goal lead midway through the third quarter only to watch that lead dissipate in a span of 63 seconds, the No. 9 Blue Jays answered, eventually getting the game-winning goal from attackman Chris Boland with 1:39 remaining to edge No. 2 Virginia, 12-11, before 3,200 at Homewood Field on Saturday.
Johns Hopkins improved to 6-2, but perhaps more importantly, secured a victory over a top-tier opponent that the program had been missing for some time.
"It sets a new trend, you hope," said coach Dave Pietramala, whose team snapped a six-game losing streak to the Cavaliers and had been a combined 0-10 against Virginia and Syracuse. "We have lost — fact is fact — to them a number of times. Our freshmen now know nothing but winning this game. Our sophomores have won and lost this game, so they're 50-50. We're hoping to set a new trend for the future as guys come in. It's a big win, and it's a win that at the end of the year when they sit down to do playoff stuff, this is a win that you can point to."
The outcome didn't appear to be in doubt as the Blue Jays controlled the tempo and — more significantly — the scoreboard as they enjoyed a 7-3 advantage at halftime and a 9-5 lead with 8:33 left in the third quarter.
But the high-octane Cavaliers, which had entered the contest with the most prolific offense in Division I with a 14.5 goals-per-game average, roared back. With less than two minutes remaining in the third quarter, senior midfielder Shamel Bratton scored his first goal of the game with 1:36 left.
Six seconds later, junior attackman Steele Stanwick converted a fastbreak off of a faceoff win. Twenty-eight seconds after that, freshman midfielder Rob Emery bounced a shot past sophomore goalkeeper Pierce Bassett, and then Bratton capped the 4-0 run with a blast from the top of the box with 33 seconds left in the period.
Virginia took its first lead of the contest when Emery converted a pass from sophomore attackman Matt White with 9:17 remaining in the fourth quarter, but sophomore midfielder Lee Coppersmith scored his third goal of the game with 6:43 left.
After both teams exchanged goals, Johns Hopkins got the game-winner when freshman midfielder Rob Guida centered a pass to Boland for the one-timer with 1:39 remaining.
"I knew I was working inside with a couple guys, and I just lost my guy for a second," said Boland, who paced the Blue Jays with a team-high four points on three goals and one assist. "And as soon as Rob got his hands free, I just cut to the backside, and he did a good job of getting me the ball."
The Cavaliers had a chance to send the game into overtime after a timeout with 12 seconds left in regulation. But Bassett made one of his game-high 14 saves, another attempt trickled wide, and the buzzer rang before another Virginia player could unleash another shot.
"If it was a man [defense], we were going to try to do a big-little [set] behind [the net] with me carrying," said Stanwick, who led all scorers with seven points on three goals and four assists. "If it was a zone [defense], you saw what we did. We were just going to try to throw it to the backside. We actually had a good chance, so it worked out pretty well."
Johns Hopkins got a huge boost from Coppersmith, whose three-goal outburst was one more than he had scored last season. Coppersmith replaced sophomore midfielder John Greeley, who was dazed by a shoulder check from Cavaliers junior defenseman Matt Lovejoy with 7:20 left in the second quarter.
"When John Greeley went down, I knew someone had to step up and make a play for this team," Coppersmith said. "The coaches called on me, and I just knew that if I had teammates help me out and get behind me, I was going to have a big day because I had been working hard all week. The coaches had a good game plan that allowed me to be successful, and it all worked out."