No. 2 Johns Hopkins 11, No. 1 Virginia 10 (OT)

Johns Hopkins players run onto the field to celebrate after midfielder John Ranagan scored the game-winning goal in overtime Saturday at Virginia. (Geoff Burke, US PRESSWIRE / March 24, 2012)

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — When Johns Hopkins was called for offside and having too many players on the field with about 21 seconds left in regulation, this looked like another tired re-run — and another Hopkins loss.

But minutes later, the Blue Jays were swarming and flopping all over junior midfielder John Ranagan who delivered the game winning goal with 5.6 seconds left in a four-minute sudden death overtime period as No. 2 Hopkins upset No. 1 Virginia, 11-10, Saturday.

Hopkins (8-0) had not won here since 1998, and three of their last five losses had come in overtime, which was a major focus for the Blue Jays throughout the week.

But they’ve been on a major tour in 2012 beating Princeton for the first time since 2008 and Syracuse for the first time since 2007. And now, the Cavaliers (8-1) have gone down.

“This win means a lot,” said Ranagan. “You have to know the history of this program and how we have had a tough time winning here. It was the same against Princeton and how we hadn’t beaten Syracuse in a while. We’ve done all three now, and I’m just glad we got the win.”

Ranagan’s goal capped a game which was exhilarating and had excellent goalkeepingfrom both teams. The fourth quarter alone was sensational with behind the back assists, over the shoulder and wrap around goals.

The final minute of regulation was sloppy and so was the play into the overtime until Ranagan finished off the Cavaliers with a low bouncing shot that got by goalie Rob Fortunato, who finished with 13 saves.

“The play was designed to go through X, and then John [Hopkins midfielder John Greeley] got the ball up top and I was screaming for it,” said Ranagan. “I got a nice pass, went down the alley and then went low.”

Greeley thought about shooting but passed at the last second.

“John and I know each other’s strengths and weaknesses,” Greeley said. “I knew if I got him the ball, he was going to the goal right away. People think we were getting down, but we were staying up. We knew to keep fighting and wait for the next play.”

Hopkins kept grinding the entire game, but blew several opportunities to win, including Greeley failing to handle a pass from attackman Wells Stanwick with 2:17 left in overtime.

Hopkins coach Dave Pietramala will point those mistakes out this week, but also the great effort by junior midfielder Lee Coppersmith who bounced off two Virginia defendersand still scored to tie the game at 10-10 with 44 seconds left in regulation.

There was sophomore Rob Guida scoring off two extra man situations in the second half, including one early in the fourth period that brought the Blue Jays within 8-6. Attackman Zach Palmer may have had the game’s best goal with the wrap around early in the fourth, and defenseman Jack Reilly went coast to coast for a goal midway in the third as Hopkins showed a solid transition game.

“We did a good job of not letting the bad things effect us, where we said, ‘here we go again’,” said Pietramala. “I thought both teams played well, and we matched up athletically with Virginia, and that’s hard to do. This has been a hard place for us to come and be successful.”

Virginia dominated the first quarter when the Cavaliers outshot the Blue Jays, 13-5, and built a 3-1 lead at the end of the period. Virginia kept constant pressure on Pierce Bassett, who finished with nine saves.

Virginia midfielder Colin Briggs scored the first goal with one of his vintage long range bombs with 10:41 left in the first quarter. Virginia scored again after midfielder Rob Emery made a quick dodge inside the restraining line, and got a low bouncer by Bassett.

After a procedure penalty, Hopkins face-off specialist Mike Poppleton streaked down the middle of the field to score and pull the Blue Jays within 2-1 with 4:19 left in the quarter but Bocklet, off an excellent feed from Steele Stanwick, scored outside the crease nearly three minutes later.

The second quarter was much faster and competitive than the first. Bocklet scored 20 seconds into the quarter, but Hopkins answered with two straight goals, one a marvelous diving shot across the crease from freshman attackman Wells Stanwick, that pulled the Blue Jays within 4-3 with 4:34 left in the half.

Steele Stanwick capitalized on what seemingly was a mistake by Bassett when he came out and left the goal unattended, and Stanwick scored on a 30-yard left handed shot from left of the goal.

Virginia had a 5-3 lead at the half, but the Cavaliers dominance had started to fade. Hopkins did a good job of forcing the Cavaliers to their offhand which produced a lot of errant shots.

“You can’t make as many mistakes against Hopkins as we did and expect to win,” said Virginia coach Dom Starsia. “But in three of the four years we’ve won the national championships since I’ve been here, we lost to Hopkins during the regular season. If we had won today, I would be telling our players about continuing to work hard and remaining undefeated. With the loss, you’re always looking for ways to encourage. It’s all part of coaching.”

mike.preston@baltsun.com