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Hopkins saves best for last 7-0 4th quarter ousts Virginia


Virginia had made its run, taking a three-goal lead into the fourth quarter, but Johns Hopkins was just waiting for its turn.

"We knew that if the offense started clicking and [Steve] Vecchione kept winning the faceoffs, they would start to doubt themselves," Blue Jays attackman Brian Piccola said. "We've come back before."

The term comeback doesn't do justice to Hopkins' late domination of Virginia yesterday at Homewood Field, where the Blue Jays used a 7-0 fourth quarter to post a 14-10 NCAA tournament quarterfinal victory before 5,293.

The win earned No. 4 Hopkins (11-3) a Final Four date against No. 1 North Carolina on Saturday (1 p.m.) at Byrd Stadium. It will be the 18th appearance in the semifinals in 21 years for Hopkins, which last won an NCAA title in 1987.

Hopkins got three goals and three assists from junior leader Piccola and four goals from sophomore Terry Riordan, but the tale of this victory begins in the back.

Freshman goalie Jonathan Marcus overcame a sinus infection and a shaky third quarter, when Virginia hit on five of its seven shots, to shut down the Cavaliers in the fourth quarter.

For the game, the close defense of Tom Sullivan, Scott Mollica and Rob Burke limited Virginia's starting attackmen to two goals. Sullivan blanked Kevin Pehlke, Virginia's all-time leading scorer, and Mollica's transition runs were crucial to the fourth-quarter rally.

"They played as well as any close defensemen have ever played for me," Hopkins coach Tony Seaman said. "Sullivan's got a bad hamstring and practiced only two days this week, and so did Marcus. He can't talk, and the defensemen had to call out signals."

Vecchione won 12 of the 16 faceoffs in the second half, and the Blue Jays got two more big boosts at midfield from two of their smallest players. Todd Cavallaro and Brian Kelly had two goals apiece, and Cavallaro thwarted a surprise Cavaliers zone that had troubled Hopkins early.

Fifth-seeded Virginia (10-5) broke free from a 5-5 halftime tie with five third-quarter goals, and when junior midfielder Chris Driggs beat a screened Marcus with 31 seconds left in the period, the Cavaliers had a 10-7 lead and visions of their first semifinal appearance since 1988, when they upset the Blue Jays at Homewood Field in the quarterfinals.

But there was no deja vu. Hopkins connected on seven of its 10 shots in the fourth quarter against junior goalie James Ireland.

The long and short of the Blue Jays needed a little more than six minutes to tie it at 10. First the 6-foot-4 Riordan cleaned up on a sequence that started with a Mollica clear; the 5-8 Cavallaro cut it to 10-9 less than two minutes later, and the 5-8 Kelly (Towson) beat Andrew Dausch (Gilman) on a spin move for the tie with 9:31 remaining.

Hopkins got its first lead and went on top for good with 6:59 left, as Mollica stripped a Cavalier at midfield and assisted Riordan. Riordan got wide open against the zone, Alex Wadkovsky scored another insurance goal and David Townsend completed the run with 1:07 left.

"We just made a couple of mistakes that they seemed able to take advantage of," said Virginia coach Dom Starsia.

NOTES: North Carolina coach Dave Klarmann, suspended from the Tar Heels' game against Army because of his involvement in a shoving incident at last year's semifinals, scouted the game. . . . Driggs led the Cavaliers with three goals and Ray Kamrath had two. . . . Vecchione won 19 of 28 faceoffs, improving his season percentage to .636. . . . Piccola, who didn't play in the April 3 loss at North Carolina, has 36 goals and 23 assists in 11 games.

Virginia 3 2 5 0 -- 10

Johns Hopkins 2 3 2 7 -- 14

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