A 13-goal run in the game's final 16 minutes enabled No. 1 Johns Hopkins to pull away and defeat No. 15 Towson State, 24-13, last night at Minnegan Stadium.
The loss seemingly ended any chance of postseason play for Towson (5-5), which has one game remaining and entered the season with national championship aspirations.
"We definitely knew coming in that we had to win this game," said Towson midfielder/defenseman Al Tyler. "It's been a roller-coaster ride of a season for us. Maybe we shouldn't have had that great preseason, when we beat Virginia twice and some other great teams. We never lived up to those expectations.
"It all started falling apart for us after losing to Maryland earlier in the season," said Tyler. "We never recovered. We're a team that only plays three quarters. Either we don't finish, or we don't get started."
Hopkins (11-0) continued its run for glory with a relentless attack that swallowed up Towson in the fourth quarter.
The Blue Jays' run began with a goal late in the third period, and didn't end until the final whistle sounded.
Where to begin?
How about with Hopkins attackman Terry Riordan?
Riordan (seven goals) scored with 14:02 left in the game to give Hopkins a 13-11 lead. The goal was the result of a one-minute slashing penalty on Towson defender Matt Stromberg just 14 seconds earlier.
Hopkins attackman Dave Marr added to the lead by scoring on an amazing shot while falling to his right outside the crease with 12:49 remaining.
Attackman Brian Piccola (four goals) continued the Hopkins run by beating defenseman Matt Cairns to the left of the goal, and then scoring on an underhand shot nearly a minute later.
It was Piccola again, this time coming from behind goal, with 9:15 remaining. After that, it was simply target practice for the Blue Jays. Piccola. Riordan. Casey Gordon. Milford Marchant. Marchant again.
With 6:53 left, the Towson fans began leaving the stadium.
"Hopkins is a team that rallies, a team that scores in spurts," said Tyler. "Twelve fourth-period goals? Unbelievable. They just wouldn't stop. The real problem is that you never know when they're going to make a run."
Neither does Hopkins.
"Towson gave us everything we expected and a little bit more," said Hopkins midfielder Peter Jacobs. "We knew they would be treating this like a playoff game. We played an average game for about three quarters. We didn't play with much effort, much heart.
"But I wasn't concerned, because we always get it together," said Jacobs. "Now if we were down by eight or nine goals, I would have become concerned."
Hopkins scored on its first two shots of the third quarter, first from Piccola with 13:19 left in the quarter, and later from Jacobs ++ on a high shot that put the Blue Jays ahead 10-8 with 12:26 remaining.
Towson attackman Dudley Dixon (four goals) scored off the transition with 9:43 left.
But the next five minutes belonged to the Hopkins attack, which pelted Towson goalie Brian Whalen with numerous shots.
Whalen hung tough with six saves, but yielded a goal to Riordan with 4:37 left in the quarter.
Dixon refused to let the Tigers quit, scoring on a low shot through the legs of Hopkins goalkeeper Jonathan Marcus 16 seconds later to bring Towson within 11-10.
Towson attackman Matt Clune, coming from behind the goal, turned, fired and scored with 48 seconds remaining to tie the game at 11-11, but Riordan scored on an assist from Marr with three seconds left to give the Blue Jays a 12-11 lead at the end of the period.
It was the third time Hopkins had rallied at the end of a quarter.
Clune had scored off a loose ball outside the crease to give Towson an 8-4 lead with 7:35 remaining in the first half.
But Hopkins rallied for the final four goals of the second period for an 8-8 halftime tie.
Piccola scored with 6:26 remaining, and Gordon, a midfielder, left Towson's Michael Strohman hanging outside the crease for a goal nearly a minute later.
Marr then stripped Whalen outside the crease, and gathered the loose ball for a goal with about 2:30 left in the quarter.
Hopkins midfielder Werner Krueger scored on a long shot 23 seconds later to tie the game.
The turn of events was frustrating for Towson, which outshot Hopkins 34-23 in the first half, and controlled 13 of 16 faceoffs. But Marcus had a decent half with 10 saves.
"I'm a senior, so it's been a tough season for me," said Tyler. "This was my last game here, and to lose 24-13 is not a great feeling."
:0Johns Hopkins .. 4 .. 4 .. 4 .. 12 .. -- .. 24
Towson State ... 6 .. 2 .. 3 ... 2 .. -- .. 13
Goals: H--Riordan 7, Piccola 4, Evans 2, Gordon 2, Marr 2, Marchant 2, Macon 2, Jacobs, Krueger, Fassini; T--Dixon 4, Clune 3, Doherty 2, Scronman, Tyler, Langton, Timmins. Assists: H--Piccola 5, Marr 5, Zuchelli; T--Clune, Langton 2, Dixon 2. Saves: H--Marcus 14, Kuchner 1; T--Whalen 19; Shifflet 0.