With a few significant wins under its belt, the Johns Hopkins men's lacrosse team wanted to ensure that it did not incur what might be considered a bad loss in the eyes of the NCAA tournament selection committee.
The No. 5 Blue Jays stayed on track Wednesday, avoiding an upset bid by visiting Villanova and scored a 13-7 victory before an announced 928 at Homewood Field in Baltimore.
Johns Hopkins had to rally back from deficits of 2-0 and 3-1 in the first quarter and led 7-6 and 8-7 in the third quarter. But it was enough of a gap for the Blue Jays to extend their winning streak to five games for the second time this season and improve to 10-3.
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"That's as good a 5-7 team as you're going to find," coach Dave Pietramala said of the Wildcats, which have lost three games by one goal and two more by two goals. "… So, we were concerned. Their offense is a little bit different from ours, and I didn't think early on that we had a lot of emotion and excitement. I thought when we got down 3-1, we answered the bell. I thought we dug deep and came back, and I think when we made it 3-3, we could kind of breathe a sigh of relief."
Junior attackman Wells Stanwick (Boys' Latin) paced the offense with four points on three goals and one assist. Sophomore midfielder Holden Cattoni scored three times, and sophomore attackman Ryan Brown (Calvert Hall) added two goals and one assist.
It was a welcome sight for an offense that managed to post just six goals in a one-goal decision over Navy on Friday night.
"It was definitely good," Stanwick said. "… We had a few days off, and a lot of guys were out here shooting and working on their shots. I think that definitely helped tonight when it came to getting those shots."
Defensively, senior goalkeeper Eric Schneider made 11 saves, and junior long-stick midfielder Michael Pellegrino limited Wildcats junior midfielder Eric Gartner to zero goals and just one assist.
"I think this was great for our team," Schneider said. "Offensively, they're a great team and they're a tough cover. They're a motion offense similar to ours, but they've played it a couple more years and they're a little more experienced. They have some really good players, and I think it was a good test for our defense."
Trailing 7-5 at halftime, Villanova shaved the deficit in half with a goal from freshman attackman Devin McNamara (Loyola Blakefield) just 77 seconds into the third quarter and simultaneously got a one-minute extra-man advantage thanks to a slashing penalty on Pellegrino.
But sophomore Craig Madarasz won the ensuing faceoff, and the Blue Jays regained their two-goal cushion during a transition in which the ball went from junior defenseman John Kelly to Stanwick to Pellegrino to Brown for a blast from the right wing with nine minutes remaining.
Wildcats sophomore midfielder Jack Curran converted a pass from McNamara to trim the lead to one with 7:15 left in the period. But Johns Hopkins closed out the game with a 5-0 run.
McNamara led Villanova with four points (1 goal, 3 assists) and freshman goalie Dan Willis turned aside a game-high 12 shots. Coach Michael Corrado said the Wildcats, who fell to 5-8 and have dropped three of their last four games, could not keep up with the Blue Jays in the second half.
"I thought that Hopkins did the second-half special," Corrado said. "They did a real good job defensively kind of taking away some of the things we wanted to do, and I thought they got a couple transition-type goals. They out-executed us on both ends of the field."