Johns Hopkins men's lacrosse coach Dave Pietramala wasn't happy with his team's performance, but he wasn't complaining, either. The No. 4 Blue Jays had just completed their third game in 10 days, and every opponent brings its best game when it plays Hopkins.
No. 18 Hofstra (1-2) put a scare into the Blue Jays yesterday with two goals after the midway point of the fourth quarter, but Hopkins held on for a 9-8 victory before 1,503 at Homewood Field.
Pride attackman Tom Dooley's shot off a double screen at the top of the box fell short at the buzzer as Hopkins improved to 3-1, and then the Blue Jays breathed a collective sigh of relief.
"We have to learn how to play 60 minutes," Pietramala said. "We haven't played that way yet, and if you don't, sooner or later it's going to come back to bite you. With that said, we've played three games in 10 days and we're 3-0. Now, we go into spring break and we can work on some things."
The game marked the return of Seth Tierney to the Homewood campus. A Hopkins assistant the previous six years, he took over the head-coaching job at Hofstra this season, replacing John Danowski, now at Duke.
This Hofstra team hardly resembled the team that had won 20 of its previous 24 games, but the rebuilding Pride made an otherwise sloppy game exciting at the end.
Hopkins had a 9-7 lead going into the final eight minutes of the game, but Hofstra midfielder Mike Unterstein scored on a hard, quick shot with 7:57 left and fellow middie Tom Interlicchio scored on a runner from the right side with 3:38 remaining to pull Hofstra within 9-8.
Both teams committed turnovers in the remaining time, the final one by Hopkins setting up Dooley's last-second shot.
This wasn't a pretty game; far from it. There were 27 turnovers and, after taking a 5-1 lead at the half, the Blue Jays became comfortable, and then complacent.
"Sometimes, there really are no explanations for the way things happens; they just fall into place," Hopkins defenseman Eric Zerrlaut said. "There are times when the offense comes out slow and we know we have to step it up. There are times when we're slow and the offense has to pick us up. It's a good balance, but sometimes we're too balanced."
That just another way of saying the Blue Jays are still inconsistent. Fortunately for them, they changed up their defense yesterday, putting on a press, which seemed to surprise Hofstra and certainly caused turnovers in the first half. Hopkins outscored the Pride 4-1 in the second quarter, mostly off turnovers.
Hopkins also continued to get scoring from its freshman duo of attackman Steven Boyle and midfielder Michael Kimmel. Boyle had three goals and Kimmel had one goal and one assist.
Kimmel scored the Blue Jays' final goal of the game, picking up a loose ball off a faceoff and outrunning a Hofstra defender before scoring from 15 yards to put Hopkins ahead 9-6 with 12:49 remaining.
Pietramala is happy with the freshman, but he wasn't satisfied with a man-down defense that allowed two goals on three opportunities or the overall goalie play of Jesse Schwartzman, who a week ago saved Hopkins with a great effort in a 7-6 win over No. 1 Princeton. Schwartzman had only six saves on 22 Hofstra shots as Hopkins outshot the Pride 30-22.
Hofstra 0 1 4 3 - 8
Johns Hopkins 1 4 1 3 - 9
Goals: H-Stein 3, Dooley 2, Unterstein, Interlicchio, Heyl. J-Boyle 3, Byrne 2, Kimmel, Huntley, Rabil, Doneger. Assists: H-Colleluori, Dooley, Miller. J-Byrne 2, Castle, Huntley, Kimmel. Saves: H-Orlando 13. J-Schwartzman 6.