A perceived Johns Hopkins weakness has become a strength.
The Blue Jays don’t have a dynamic scorer on the roster, but they do have balance and an abundance of depth offensively, which led them to a brilliant comeback victory against Georgetown Sunday night.
Senior attackman Shack Stanwick (Boys’ Latin) scored with 29.4 seconds left in the first sudden-death overtime period to lift No. 5-seeded Johns Hopkins to a 10-9 win against unseeded Georgetown.
There were several tense hours for the partisan crowd of nearly 2,000 at Homewood Field in the opening round of the NCAA Division I tournament, but the Blue rallied with five goals in the fourth period to tie the game at 9.
All five goals were scored by junior attackman Kyle Marr, the last of which tied the game with 4:03 remaining in regulation.
Stanwick had the last-second heroics, beating defenseman Stephen MacLeod from the right side of the goal and releasing his shot just before he crashed into the crease.
But that’s why the Blue Jays are so hard to defend. They share the ball and don’t care who scores. So, who do you defend in crunch time? Is it Stanwick or Marr? How about sophomore attackman Cole Williams (Loyola Blakefield)?
And then there is senior Joel Tinney, one of the best midfielders in the game. He had three goals and an assist against Georgetown.
“You worry about 14 [Williams], 32 [Stanwick] and 55 [Tinney], but they have other guys just as good,” Georgetown coach Kevin Warne said. “They just don’t get as much notoriety.”
On his winning goal, the Blue Jays had talked about valuing the possession and working to set up the right play. But once Stanwick took possession, he headed for the goal.
It made so much sense. He is a senior who was playing his last game at Hopkins.
“Everyone on our team wants to take that last shot,” Stanwick said. “Ultimately, it doesn’t matter who takes it. We just want to win.”
Stanwick had the game-winner, but he also had four assists. Three of those went to Marr, two of those just outside the right and top of the crease. Both those goals came from nearly the same spot with Marr popping free after coming off picks.
Again, the Blue Jays were unselfish and balanced.
“We work on those plays all the time in practice,” Marr said. “We have our timing down and we wanted to keep working hard and see if it would open some things up. It did and we scored.”
Before Sunday’s game Marr had 34 goals and 14 assists followed by 33 goals and 13 assists from Williams. Stanwick has 17 goals and 29 assists while Tinney had 18 and 13. Stanwick is the quarterback of the offense while Marr is more of a finisher. Tinney can break down a defense as a dodger from up top or on the wing.
On Sunday the Blue Jays ran into a hot goalie in Nick Marrocco, who finished with 11 saves. The two he had at the end of the third quarter were spectacular as he stopped basic layup shots from Stanwick and midfielder Thomas Guida.
Hopkins entered the fourth quarter trailing 8-4 with its starting attack having not scored off 17 shots. At one point the Blue Jays went nearly 35 minutes without a goal. But these guys don’t care. They are relentless.
“A year ago we couldn’t have done what we did today,” Johns Hopkins coach Dave Pietramala said.
The Blue Jays did get some help from Georgetown. The Hoyas had 13 turnovers and failed on five of 17 clears as the Blue Jays rode tough. Down the stretch, Hopkins played like a team that had been in this tournament before while the Hoyas resembled a team which hadn’t been to the tournament since 2007.
“It was a tale of two halves,” Warne said. “Hopkins’ experience in the fourth quarter kind of got to us. Over on their sidelines they had coolness and it came down to one play made by one of the greatest players in the game.”
The Blue Jays will move on to play Duke next Sunday in the quarterfinals in Annapolis. The Blue Devils are one of the favorites to win the tournament, but there are still doubts whether they have enough talent to win.
“I am thrilled to move on,” Pietramala said. “We’re a group that no one talks about right now. We like it that way.”
Become a subscriber today to support sports commentary like this. Start getting full access to our signature journalism for just 99 cents for the first four weeks.