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Preston: Inconsistency catches up with Hopkins lacrosse as quarterfinal rally falls short vs. Duke, 14-9

In the end Johns Hopkins ran out of miracles and time.

The No. 5-seeded Blue Jays had staged several comeback wins this season but fell short in a 14-9 loss to No. 4 Duke in an NCAA Division I quarterfinal before nearly 13,000 at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.

Duke (15-3) will play top-seeded Maryland in a semifinal Saturday at 2:30 p.m. in Foxborough, Mass, home of the New England Patriots. No. 3 Yale will play No. 2 Albany in the other semifinal at noon while the Blue Jays (12-5) finish with crushed dreams but apparently a newly re-created foundation.

The big problem, though, is still finding consistency.

“I can’t emphasize how proud I am of this group coming off last year and the drubbing we took at the end of last year,” Hopkins coach Dave Pietramala said. “We did a lot of soul-searching. Changes were made, and we decided to readjust our culture. Clearly, we have done that.

“We knew this was going to be a fight. They were a very good team, talented, well-coached. We knew it was going to be a fight, and we knew we’d swing.”

Let’s be blunt. A year ago the Blue Jays just weren’t very tough mentally or physically. The players can talk about new adjustments in the offense and defense during the 2018 season, but this group had more grit and desire than recent teams. It started playing like some of the recent Hopkins greats, like Kyle Harrison (Friends) and Jesse Schwartzman (Pikesville).

They don't have the same skill set, but similar desire. They had rallied from three-goal deficits in four games this season and put together comeback wins against Virginia, Georgetown, Rutgers, Delaware, Maryland, Ohio State and UMBC. And Hopkins almost pulled off another one Sunday, coming back from down 9-5 at the end of the third quarter to pull within 9-8 on a goal by Kyle Marr with 7:11 left in the game.

The Blue Jays weren’t pretty in their attempt. They simply rode Duke hard on two clearing attempts for two early fourth-quarter goals and got another off a man-up goal from senior midfielder Patrick Fraser. This game had the similar look of all the other recent comebacks, but Duke’s athletic talent took over once the Blue Jays pulled within 9-8.

Blue Devils freshman midfielder Nakeie Montgomery beat Hopkins short-stick midfielders not only once from the right wing, but twice, scoring with 6:25 left in the game and then a minute later.

Then with 1:59 left, Duke senior attackman Justin Guterding, one of the game’s top finishers, scored from the right of the goal on the outside of the crease to seal the win for Duke and push the Blue Devils’ lead to 13-9.

“It’s definitely tough and we’ve gotten ourselves into some holes and we’ve been able to claw our way back,” said Marr, who finished with two goals and an assist. “It’s not the recipe for success. The resilience we’ve had — to pull back to 9-8 — being able to put them back on their heels, that was awesome for us to do again. It’s just slipped away at the end.”

Resilience can take a team a long way as it did Hopkins, which had won four of its past five games before Sunday. But sooner or later talent overrules and the inconsistency is too much too overcome. Before the Duke game, the Blue Jays had a shooting percentage of .300 which is OK, but not great.

Against Duke, Hopkins put only 20 of 44 shots on goal. The Blue Jays came into the game having won only 214 of 397 faceoffs and won only seven of 25 Sunday. That’s why they needed so many comebacks this season. Inconsistency hurt the Blue Jays on offense and defense this season, but especially on offense.

“You can’t lose the possession battle like we did, lose at X and shoot the way we did,” Pietramala said. “We made some selfish mistakes on the defensive end at the end, and good teams take advantage of those things and they did.”

Marr said: “Some days they go in. Some days they don’t, As a whole on offense, we got good looks, just today wasn’t our day to bury them.”

Hopkins will lose some key seniors like attackman Shack Stanwick (Boys’ Latin), midfielder Joel Tinney, Thomas Guida and goalie Brock Turnbaugh (Hereford). But maybe the Blue Jays learned some other things. Sooner or later those last-minute comebacks catch up with a team and too much energy is used trying to climb back into a game.

It’s nice to have the swag back, but consistency gets a team to the title game.

JHU 1 2 2 4 9

Duke 4 3 2 5 14

Goals: JH — Marr 2; Williams 2; Fraser; Fox; Hubler; Valis; DeSimone; D — Guterding 3; Robertson 2; Montgomery 2; Manown 2; Smith; Pelton; Smyth; Walsh; Prendergast. Assists: Stanwick 2; Fox; Fraser; Hubler; Keogh; Marr; Tinney. D — Guterding 2; Conley. Saves: JH — Turnbaugh 9; D — Fowler 11.

Scoreboard

OPENING ROUND

Wednesday, May 9

Robert Morris 12, Canisius 6

FIRST ROUND

Saturday, May 12

Yale 15, UMass 13

Duke 17, Villanova 11

Albany (NY) 18, Richmond 9

Loyola (Md.) 13, Virginia 9

Sunday, May 13

Maryland 14, Robert Morris 11

Denver 9, Notre Dame 7

Johns Hopkins 10, Georgetown 9, OT

Cornell 10, Syracuse 9

QUARTERFINALS

Saturday, May 19

At James M. Shuart Stadium

Hempstead, N.Y.

Yale 8, Loyola (Md.) 5

Albany (NY) 15, Denver 13

Sunday, May 20

At Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium

Annapolis, Md.

Maryland 13, Cornell 8

Duke 14, Johns Hopkins 9

SEMIFINALS

Saturday, May 26

At Gillette Stadium

Foxborough, Mass.

Yale (15-3) vs. Albany (NY) (16-2), noon

Maryland (14-3) vs. Duke (14-3), 2:30 p.m.

CHAMPIONSHIP

Monday, May 28

At Gillette Stadium

Foxborough, Mass.

Semifinal winners, 1 p.m.

mike.preston@baltsun.com

twitter.com/MikePrestonSun

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