March 26, 2011

Hopkins' Young Guns Shoot Down Virginia

by Corey McLaughlin | LaxMagazine.com | Live Blog Replay


Freshman midfielder Rob Guida scored the game-tying goal and assisted on the game-winner Saturday in No. 11 Hopkins' 12-11 upset of No. 2 Virginia at Homewood Field.

BALTIMORE, Md. -- About the only mistake Johns Hopkins' freshmen and sophomores made Saturday afternoon was when second-year goaltender Pierce Bassett nearly gave away the Blue Jays' code word for zone defense in the press conference after their landmark 12-11 win over visiting and second-ranked Virginia at Homewood Field.

"We're giving away names? Now I have to change it, right?" Johns Hopkins coach Dave Pietramala said, interrupting Bassett as he mumbled the keyword while describing the game's final possession.

Hopkins did indeed drop into a zone defense, as Virginia's Steele Stanwick started with the ball in the back left corner of the box with 12 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter, trailing by one. After Stanwick darted toward the cage and a series of passes, Chris Bocklet took a clean shot from the backside on Bassett, who made at least one save, and perhaps two during a time-expiring scramble in front.

The play sealed Johns Hopkins' first win against Virginia in seven tries. In the greater picture of this season, after a one-goal loss at top-ranked Syracuse last Saturday, Pietramala sounded as optimistic as he could about what has been often referred to as a young group -- a starting lineup dotted with eight freshman or sophomores -- that was perhaps considered a season or two away from being a national contender.

Suddenly, their resume looks pretty good right now. The 11th-ranked Blue Jays improved to 6-2 and will likely climb the national rankings come Monday. Virginia fell to 7-2 with losses to Hopkins and Syracuse.

"This was kind of a day for a young team to step up," Pietramala said. "I watched them grow up in front of our eyes."

It was remarkable that fifth-year senior attackman Chris Boland, who had a hat trick and scored the game-winner with 1:39 left, was overshadowed by the group of underclassmen. Rob Guida, a first-year attackman, fed Boland on the crease for the go-ahead score after noticing Boland had lost a defender. And sophomore midfielder Lee Coppersmith scored three important goals while playing on the first midfield in place of the injured John Greeley, another sophomore. Greeley was knocked out of the game after an illegal hit by Virginia defenseman Matt Lovejoy in the second quarter.

Bassett came up with big, timely saves and finished with 14. He now has 30 combined stops in back-to-back weeks against the top two teams in the country.

"What's exciting is you saw a freshman make a play to senior," Pietramala said of the winning goal. "What's exciting is you saw a sophomore step in for another sophomore that was injured and get you three goals. That's more than he's got in his career here and that's what he's capable of. So that's what I mean by growth. I watched [freshman defenseman] Jack Reilly grow up right in front my eyes the last two games. We've asked him to cover two of the best players in the country, JoJo Marasco and Shamel Bratton. I thought he did a wonderful job."

"It's great," Boland said, sitting next to Coppersmith, Guida, Bassett and their head coach for postgame interviews. "We have a young team. They had to grow up real fast early in the season. It started in the fall. We knew we had a young team coming in this year. It's good that these guys have confidence and got a good win like this."

Hopkins jumped out to a 4-0 lead at the end of the first quarter on a chilly, 40-degree sunny afternoon at Homewood, where 3,200 fans packed the home stands.

The Blue Jays led 7-3 at half before Virginia went on a 6-1 third-quarter run to tie it at 9 to entering the fourth quarter. Rob Emery put Virginia up 10-9 with a 15-yard extra-man goal from the left hash, and Stanwick put the Cavaliers ahead 11-10 on an unassisted play around the left side from "X" with 5:41 remaining.

Hopkins scored the final two goals. Guida tied it at 11 with just under five minutes left, and later made the pass for the winner.

"You go into halftime up 7-3, and all of a sudden, 'Bang, bang, bang,'" Pietramala said about Virginia's rally. "It's like, 'Oh boy, here we go.' Doubt can start to creep in. We've talked with this team about not having any doubt and believing in itself... They never panicked. The seniors, in particular Matt Dolente, had the right things to say in the huddle. Guys kept their composure."

Midway through the second quarter, Greeley absorbed a hart hit to the upper body from Lovejoy while looking down trying to scoop a ground ball in the Hopkins zone. He didn't see the hit coming. After about a minute being tended to on the turf, Greeley was helped off the field and did not return.

Coppersmith, a sophomore who played high school ball at perennial Florida power St. Andrew's, took Greeley's spot and scored two consecutive second-quarter goals, one lefty and one righty. His third score on the run right-handed beat Virginia goaltender Adam Ghitelman high and tied the score at 10 in the fourth quarter.

There was more youth serving big plays.

Virginia attackman Steele Stanwick credited Hopkins sophomore close defenseman Tucker Durkin, who made "me work for everything I got," Stanwick said, which was a game-high seven points on three goals and four assists. "He did a great job. Their defense is definitely up this year. I think the goalie has a lot to do with that."

Virginia coach Dom Starsia, who said he was proud of his team for rallying to tie and take the lead, agreed with Stanwick's assessment of the 6-foot-3, 205 pound Bassett.

"They're a little bit more complete, perhaps defensively," Starsia said of this Blue Jays' team compared to recent years, "but I think the boy in the goal playing like that makes it look good. That's part of the team defense, the goalie play."

Just don't give away the code words, Pierce.

"This is important on a number of fronts, because it sets a new trend you hope," Pietramala said. "We have lost, it's fact — we have lost to them a number of times. Our freshmen now know nothing but winning this game. Our sophomores have won and lost this game. So we're 50-50. You're hoping to set a new trend for the future as guys come in. It's a big win. It's a win that for the end of the year when they sit down for playoff stuff, this is a win that you could look to."

"A huge win for this young team, a huge confidence builder," he said earlier. "Now, to be honest with you, I told the team last week how we handled the Syracuse [loss] would define our team. I think we handled it pretty well. I'll reiterate that to them again. How we handle this one would really define our team."


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