March 23, 2013

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Hopkins Gets Signature Win, Routs Virginia

by Gary Lambrecht | LaxMagazine.com


Freshman Ryan Brown had three goals and an assist as Johns Hopkins knocked off Virginia 15-8. Hopkins' second midfield unit had seven goals on just 13 shots.

© John Strohsacker/LaxPhotos.com

BALTIMORE - Johns Hopkins came to M&T Bank Stadium on Saturday in search of its first signature victory of the season, and the 11th-ranked Blue Jays wasted little time showing their hunger against No. 13 Virginia.

Before 10,487 chilled spectators in the Konica Minolta Face-Off Classic, Hopkins jumped on Virginia early, put the Cavaliers in a huge halftime hole and, with an impressive lift from its second midfield unit, cruised to a 15-8 victory.

It’s always a big win at Homewood when Virginia is the victim, but this one – the 86th time the two schools have squared off – carried a little extra weight with the Blue Jays (6-2). Hopkins had yet to beat a ranked opponent, and was coming off a 13-8 drubbing at No. 4 Syracuse.

The Blue Jays, playing fast and loose and letting their experience and depth shine, overwhelmed Virginia in the first half by charging to a 9-1 halftime lead and extending it to 11-1 early in the third quarter. That marked the first time Hopkins had led Virginia by nine goals since 1995, when it crushed the Cavs, 22-13.

Hopkins, which handed Virginia (5-4) its third consecutive defeat, had all of the bases covered on Saturday, as three players recorded hat tricks. Sophomore attackman Wells Stanwick finished with three goals and an assist. Junior Rex Sanders (three goals) and freshman Ryan Brown (3, 1) led a second midfield unit that zapped Virginia for seven goals on just 13 shots.

The Blue Jays scored in transition, most notably with two first-half goals after winning faceoffs by Mike Poppleton and Drew Kennedy – who replaced Poppleton (undisclosed injury) following the first quarter.

The Blue Jays scored in six-on-six. They made a string of stops on defense, evidenced in part by senior goalie Pierce Bassett’s 16 saves. And Hopkins, which never led by fewer than seven goals in the second half, played its cleanest game of 2013, as it finished with just 10 turnovers and no failed clears in 19 attempts.

“If you looked at our Syracuse game, we made mistakes in every conceivable way. We were very tight. We kind of overwhelmed ourselves,” said Hopkins coach Dave Pietramala, who added he expects Poppleton to play at North Carolina on Saturday.

“All week, we talked about playing loose. We tried to come into this game in a mentally good place. We showed some maturity, as far as when to attack and when to pull [the ball] out. We needed to get off to a quick start.”

Hopkins certainly did that against a younger, wounded Virginia team that is without injured senior midfielder and captain Chris LaPierre for the remainder of the season, and is leaning sophomore goalie Rhody Heller (13 saves), who recently replaced freshman Dan Marino in the cage.

Virginia got four goals from junior attackman Mark Cockerton, who was one of the few Cavaliers to shoot straight. Virginia went 8-for-52, including a meager 1-for-20 in a forgettable first half. The Cavaliers, who struggled to run effective offense early, put just 24 shots on goal.

“We weren’t organized at all. We didn’t have a good week of practice, and it really showed,” Cockerton said. “We’ve got to step it up, or we’re going to be in deep trouble.”

“We showed a glimmer of something in the second half. There’s not a lot of solace in that,” Virginia coach Dom Starsia said. “We had a chance to tuck our tails [at halftime], but we continued to play. I like this team, but we’ve got to play a more complete lacrosse game. It’s a little hard to feel good about anything.”

Virginia opened in a zone defense. Hopkins attacked it aggressively. After freshman Holden Cattoni – who switched midfield lines with Sanders – hit a pipe, junior attackman Brandon Benn cut down the middle, took a nice feed from Stanwick and opened the scoring six minutes into the game. Three seconds later, Poppleton buried a 14-yarder after winning a faceoff. And the Jays were off and running.

Hopkins, which shot 15-for-44, set picks effectively to spring shooters such as Stanwick, let athletic midfielders such as Sanders and Brown go to work in one-on-one situations, and turned their defensive transition loose, as SSM Phil Castronova got into the scoring act during the first-half fun.

“We came out firing,” Stanwick said. “We scored goals right away, and we kept the pedal down.”


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