Johns Hopkins' women's lacrosse team executed the perfect strategy Saturday against No. 4 Florida, slowing the pace and keeping the speedy Gators from turning the game into a track meet. Unfortunately for the No. 18 Blue Jays, a handful of untimely mistakes doomed the potential upset.
The Blue Jays battled the Gators to double overtime, but Nora Barry scored the game winner on a free position 58 seconds into sudden death for a 13-12 Florida victory in an American Lacrosse Conference game at Homewood Field.
Barry converted her free-position opportunity after Sammy Cermack, who had given the Blue Jays a 12-11 lead in the first overtime period, was called for a three-seconds foul off the ball.
The costliest Blue Jays mistakes, however, came on clear attempts throughout the game. The Gators scored four times after Hopkins goalie KC Emerson turned the ball over in Florida's attacking end while attempting to clear.
"I think it was freshman nerves," Johns Hopkins coach Janine Tucker said. "It was a very intense game and a lot of pressure."
The third time Emerson turned the ball over, Nicole Graziano intercepted her pass and raced in to give the Gators a 10-8 lead with 7:10 left.
The Blue Jays (7-4, 0-2 conference) grabbed the momentum right back with three straight draw controls that led to goals. Taylor D'Amore, who had a career day with two goals and five assists, scored with 5:55 to go. She then drew a double team and dumped the ball to Cermack in the middle for the quick shot.
Candace Rossi gave the Blue Jays their first lead since 5-3 when she beat defender Jamie Reeg with a quick move on the crease, spinning toward the middle and shooting low for an 11-10 edge with 1:13 left.
All-American Kitty Cullen appeared to tie the game for the Gators with 34 seconds left in regulation, but the Blue Jays requested a stick check and the illegal stick erased the goal. Then, Emerson again turned over the clear attempt and, with seven seconds to go, Gabi Wiegand tied the game on a free-position goal.
In just under seven minutes of overtime, the Gators (13-2, 3-0) outshot Johns Hopkins, 6-1, but Emerson, who finished with nine saves, saved two, including the first shot in the second overtime.
Late in the game, Sophia Sherry face guarded Cullen, who finished with four goals, and the McDonogh graduate did not get a shot in overtime.
"In the first part of overtime I was trying to get open and get the ball," Cullen said, "but then, toward the end of overtime, we decided to completely take me out of it and let the other six do it. I have six other great attackers right beside me and they were able to get the job done at the end."
The Gators, who earned the first overtime victory in their three -year history, came into the game leading Division I in scoring offense with 17.6 goals and in scoring defense, allowing just 6.36 goals.
The Blue Jays scored three goals in less than five minutes, using a patient attack to take a 3-1lead on two goals from Colleen McCaffrey and another from D'Amore.
The Gators took their first lead, 6-5, on three straight goals to end the first half. They boosted that margin to 9-5 with 16 minutes to go on three goals within 1:17, prompting Tucker to call a timeout.
The Blue Jays responded with three straight goals sparked by Rossi's quick goal of the draw control. D'Amore then fed McAffrey and Monica Fischer to pull within 9-8 with 10:53 remaining.
"The biggest thing we can take away from this game," said D'Amore, a sophomore midfielder, "is that at the start of the second half we went down 9-6 and we could have gone one of two ways. I think we showed ourselves that if we come together as a team, we can play with anyone."
Florida 6 5 1 1 -- 13
Johns Hopkins 5 6 1 0 -- 12
Goals: F—Cullen 4, Barry 3, Gilroy 2, Graziano, Dashiell, Bruns, Weigand; JH—McCaffrey 3, D'Amore 2, Cermach 2, Taylor, Fischer. Assists: F—Graziano 2, Bruns, Dashiell, Judge; JH—D'Amore 5. Saves: F—Meagher 9; JH—Emerson 9.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun