EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — The collapse was disappointing. Fortunately for Johns Hopkins, Lee Coppersmith provided the proper response.
Forty-nine seconds after No. 5 North Carolina had rebounded from a three-goal deficit in the fourth quarter to tie the score, Coppersmith struck back with his only goal of the contest to lift the No. 6 Blue Jays to a 10-9 victory at the Big City Classic at the New Meadowlands Stadium on Sunday.
Coppersmith, who recorded his first career hat trick in Johns Hopkins' 12-11 upset of then-No. 2 Virginia on March 26, added another highlight when he dodged past freshman Frankie Kelly, who got stuck on defense after taking the previous faceoff, and sent a high blast from the left alley over sophomore goalkeeper Steven Rastivo (nine saves) with 1:52 left in the fourth quarter.
"I had a short stick, and he was playing to my left hand, which is my strong hand," Coppersmith recalled. "I just tried to get to a good spot and put it in a spot where I knew the goalie would have a hard time trying to save it. It all worked out."
On the ensuing faceoff, senior Matt Dolente won his 16th draw — a career best — in 22 attempts, but the Blue Jays (7-2) turned the ball over when sophomore attackman Zach Palmer was double-teamed and threw a lazy pass that was intercepted.
After taking a timeout with 54 seconds left, the Tar Heels (7-3) ran their offense, with junior midfielder Jimmy Dunster getting off a shot from the left alley with about 16 seconds left. But senior long-stick midfielder Ben Smith prevented Dunster from putting a lot of weight behind the shot, which was stopped by sophomore goalie Pierce Bassett (seven saves). Johns Hopkins then ran out the clock.
"We had poled [sophomore midfielder] Marcus Holman all game, and they were dodging with Dunster," Blue Jays coach Dave Pietramala said. "We changed the matchup and put a short[-stick defender] on [Holman] and put a pole on [Dunster], and thankfully, Ben Smith did a really nice job. He [Dunster] never really got a quality shot off, and it took time off the clock when they had to move it. So we were fortunate there."
Johns Hopkins, which entered the contest ranked 11th in Division I in scoring with an 11.1 goals-per-game average, scored the first four goals and enjoyed an 8-5 advantage at halftime, but the offensive fireworks were doused in the second half.
The Blue Jays took just 10 of their 28 shots in the second half, while North Carolina fired 17 of its 31 attempts.
"I think in the second half, we weren't as patient as we were in the first half," said senior attackman Kyle Wharton, who scored all three of his goals in the first half. "We definitely turned over the ball a bit more. In the first half, we were definitely waiting for those shots to come. We were giving up good shots for really good shots, and I think in the second half, we kind of pushed a little bit and didn't take the best-quality shots that we took in the first half."
Eight days after being shut out by Maryland senior defenseman Brett Schmidt, senior attackman Billy Bitter paced the Tar Heels with a game-high four goals. Dunster recorded three points on one goal and two assists, but freshman attackman Nicky Galasso, the team's leading scorer with 16 goals and 20 assists, did not score a goal for the first time this season and was limited to one point for the first time.
Sophomore midfielder John Ranagan led Johns Hopkins with four points on three goals and one assist, and Palmer had a goal and an assist.
No. 1 Syracuse 13, No. 3 Duke 11: Senior attackman Stephen Keogh recorded four points on three goals and one assist, and the Orange held off a late charge in the nightcap.
Senior midfielder Jovan Miller and sophomore attackman JoJo Marasco each added two goals and two assists as Syracuse (8-0) sprinted to a 9-2 advantage at halftime.
"I think we got started off on the right foot," coach John Desko said. "We played one of our best halves of the season — from one end of the field to the other. It was good to have that many points going into halftime."
Orange senior goalkeeper John Galloway turned aside 16 shots to collect his 52nd career win, setting a Division I record.
Senior attackman Zach Howell paced the Blue Devils (8-3) with four goals and two assists, and they outscored the Orange 9-4 in the second half but saw their seven-game winning streak end.
"What I thought could happen did happen," coach John Danowski said. "We're relying on nine freshmen and 11 sophomores, and playing under the bright lights, I can't say it didn't get to us. I think it did."