No One Plays Keep-Away Like Dolente
He has stared down a number of the best specialists in the game this spring, and on Saturday in the first round of the NCAA tournament, Johns Hopkins senior faceoff man Matt Dolente was at it again.
No. 3 seed Hopkins (13-2) did a lot of things right in its 12-5 pasting of unseeded Hofstra at Homewood Field. The Blue Jays locked down defensively again. After surrendering the game's first two scores within the opening four minutes, Hopkins gave up just three goals. Defenseman Chris Lightner turned the lights out on Hofstra attackman Jamie Lincoln, who came up scoreless. The Blue Jays shot a blistering 12-for-29, including 8-for-16 in the second half, which Hopkins ended with a 6-0, fourth-quarter run.
But Dolente, who entered the contest as the top-ranked (.673) faceoff man in Division I, was the calm in the Hopkins storm yet again. He won 13 of 20 draws, grabbed a game-high eight ground balls, and he wore out Hofstra's John Antoniades, who entered the contest ranked third (.661) in Division I, but suffered through a 4-for-14 day that included five procedure violations and a slashing penalty.
"[Dolente] is one of the most influential players on our team," said senior attackman Kyle Wharton, who is Dolente's roommate. "He is his own biggest critic. He knows what he is doing wrong, and he knows how to fix it."
Dolente once again was oustanding in the second half. His 5-for-6 showing in the third quarter fueled a 4-1 that gave the Blue Jays an 8-5 lead heading into the fourth period.
Dolente has now successfully taken on three faceoff specialists who ended the regular season ranked in the top 15. They include Maryland's Curtis Holmes, North Carolina's R.G. Keene and Loyola's John Schiavone.