The Johns Hopkins lacrosse team found itself in the unfamilia role of underdog yesterday at Homewood Field.
It was a role, however, that the sixth-ranked Blue Jays (4-1) found to their liking, as they upset No. 5 Virginia, 11-9, before a crowd of 3,208.
"I like being the underdog," said senior midfielder Steve Vecchione. "At Hopkins, you're always expected to win. Today, we weren't supposed to win, but we did."
Vecchione, who controlled 15 of 24 faceoffs, was instrumental in keeping the ball away from the Cavaliers' potent attack.
When Virginia did get the ball, the Hopkins defense, led by senior Tom Sullivan, prevented Virginia's standout attackman, Kevin Pehlke (Calvert Hall), from taking the game over.
"Overall, I'm very happy," said Hopkins coach Tony Seaman, whose Blue Jays lost to Virginia, 15-9, last year in Charlottesville. "We're very young, but this team's getting better every week."
Virginia (4-2) got off to an early 3-2 lead on goals by Tony Nugent (Calvert Hall), Pehlke and Rob Falk.
Pehlke's goal, which tied the score 2-2 with 7:40 left in the first quarter, moved him into first on Virginia's all-time scoring list. He entered the game tied with Chase Monroe with 116 career goals.
"[Breaking the record] was not as exciting as I had hoped because we didn't win," said Pehlke. "It's nice to achieve the record, but I wanted it more for the team."
Terry Riordan, who finished with a game-high four goals, gave Hopkins its biggest lead of the first half, 8-4, with 3:33 left. The Cavaliers' David Jones (St. Mary's) and Chris Driggs (John Carroll) each scored in the last three minutes of the half to bring Virginia within 8-6 at halftime.
In the third quarter, Riordan put the game out of reach, scoring three straight goals to give the Blue Jays an 11-6 lead going into the final quarter.
"They're pretty confident, and if you get to them early, you can dominate the game," said Riordan. "They manhandled us last year, so this is a big win for us."
Virginia fought back in the fourth quarter, scoring three unanswered goals and closing to 11-9 on a goal by Drew Fox with 3:49 left.
Virginia goalie James Ireland aided the comeback, stopping two point-blank shots by Riordan midway through the quarter.
Pehlke tried to bring the Cavaliers within one with a hard, right-handed shot with 1:38 left, but Hopkins goalie Jonathan Marcus (11 saves) made the stop and slung the ball downfield, where the Blue Jays controlled it for the rest of the game.
"I'm not sure we understand what it takes to win at this level," said Virginia coach Dom Starsia. "We seemed intimidated, and there's no reason for that.
"We're not talented enough to just roll out and beat people. We're going to have to start working harder."
David Marr had a goal and two assists for Hopkins. Jones finished with three goals to lead Virginia.
Hopkins was without senior attackman Brian Piccola, who sat out with cracked ribs. He is questionable for Saturday's game at top-ranked North Carolina, but Seaman, nevertheless, is eager to face the Tar Heels.
"I'm really looking forward to going to North Carolina," saiSeaman, in his third year at Hopkins. "We haven't beaten them since I've been here, and it's a big goal of mine to upset them."
Virginia will play host to Maryland on Saturday at 1 p.m.
Virginia 3 3 0 3 -- 9
Johns Hopkins 4 4 3 0 -- 11
Goals: V--Jones 3, Pehlke 2, Nugent, Falk, Driggs, Fox; JH--Riordan 4, Marr, Jacobs, Wadkovsky, Kelly, Townsend, Gordon, Vecchione. Assists: V--Pehlke 3, Whiteley 2, Driggs, Falk, Traynor. Saves: V--Ireland 13, JH--Marcus 11.