Navy coach Rick Sowell said earlier in the week that he fully expected Johns Hopkins to be in a "grouchy mood" for the teams' 86th meeting Saturday. He knew the Blue Jays would be looking to bounce back from two losses in the past three weeks, including a second-half collapse against Maryland.
The Midshipmen, however, had built up their own anger after last week's loss to arch-rival Army knocked them out of the Patriot League tournament. Navy responded by closing out its season with a signature 8-2 victory over the Blue Jays before an announced 11,917 at Navy-Marine Corps Stadium. Navy goalie RJ Wickham was the difference with 18 saves, including several from point-blank range.
It was the fewest goals scored by Johns Hopkins since a 7-1 loss to Princeton on April 2, 1966 and the fewest against Navy since 1925. Navy beat Johns Hopkins for only the second time in the past 39 meetings after also winning in 2010.
"To turn around seven days later and beat a Hopkins team — a team, I think, will go deep in the playoffs — says an awful lot about the young men I've had the pleasure of coaching the past year," Sowell said. "My heart is just filled with joy and happiness."
Johns Hopkins fell to 9-3 and have a showdown at No. 1 Loyola on Saturday before wrapping up the regular season with a Homecoming game against No. 20 Army on May 5.
"I'm not embarrassed that we lost to Navy. I have great respect for them and their coaching staff, and I thought they played a heck of game," Johns Hopkins coach Dave Pietramala said. "I'm embarrassed by our play. I'm embarrassed that we just seemed to collapse. You would think the way we played that we were the team that was 5-6 and not the team that was not 9-2. Thankfully, we have a whole heck of a lot of our season still. We got to learn our lessons."
Goals by Durkin and Taylor Reynolds gave Navy 2-0 lead with 5:26 left in the first quarter, forcing Pietramala to call a timeout. Nikk Davis (Dulaney), however, increased the lead to three with 19 seconds remaining in the opening quarter.
The game got worse for the Blue Jays early in the second quarter when midfielder John Greeley appeared to reinjure his left knee and did not return. Greeley tore an ACL in that same knee in August and his status was uncertain after the game.
The Midshipmen held Johns Hopkins scoreless for more than 20 minutes before Zach Palmer scored a man-advantage goal with 4:29 left in the half to cut the lead to 3-1. Goals by Jones, Erik Hoffstadt and Durkin gave Navy a 6-1 lead with less then three minutes left in the third quarter. Johns Hopkins' offense generated some open shots, but Wickham continued to respond.
"Our defense was great today and I could not have asked for more," Wickman said. "I stole a couple, but today was really about the defense. They made my job easier."
Jones scored twice in the fourth quarter to boost the lead to 8-1. Greg Edmonds (Centennial) finally got the Blue Jays' second goal with 2:44 left in the game.
"This was one was really for the seniors," Jones said. "I'm so grateful to them for everything they've done over the past couple of years. I know all my classmates and the freshmen did a great job. It's a bittersweet feeling the season is over."