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Flu-bugged Jays get well in Syracuse

The Baltimore Sun

Syracuse, N.Y. -- Never mind that so many Johns Hopkins players were fighting the flu a few days earlier that coach Dave Pietramala had to call off practice. Or that yesterday's game was at the Carrier Dome, home of a Syracuse team that eliminated the Blue Jays from last season's NCAA tournament. Or that Syracuse's first shot of the game zipped into the back of the Hopkins net.

Disregard all of that because No. 3 Hopkins did and dominated every aspect of the game, rolling over the No. 4 Orange, 17-9, before an announced crowd of 7,408, Pietramala's third victory in four visits to the dome.

"To be honest with you, I'm very surprised," Pietramala said. "That's kind of not what we expected. We had to cancel practice Wednesday because we have the flu going through our team. I've never seen anything like it. I'm really proud of our guys."

Pietramala, still fighting the bug himself, said he worried considerably during Friday night's practice when the heat was turned on full blast to keep the snow melting as it landed on the bubble and his already-weakened players wilted more.

"I didn't know how we'd react after seeing that," he said. "I'm not enthralled particularly with the way we played the whole game. It was just a good win against what I think is a very good team."

The rout was simple to dissect: The Blue Jays (4-1) could do no wrong, the Orange (2-3) no right. Hopkins got eight consecutive goals by eight players in the first and second quarters to make it a laugher before halftime.

"We didn't make them work for their goals," Syracuse close defender Steve Panarelli said. "They got a lot of easy goals. They were right on the doorstep. You can't give a great team like that easy looks."

Hopkins star midfielder Paul Rabil, who led the Jays with six points (three goals, three assists), saw it differently.

"We worked hard," he said. "We just tried to be as unselfish as possible and ended up getting some open looks."

"What I liked is I thought we ran," Pietramala said. "Everybody says we're a slow-down team, and I thought we got up and out and ran early. I thought that helped us get going."

The offense was humming, and the defense clamped down after Dan Hardy's goal 1:54 into the game behind goaltender Jesse Schwartzman, who made 17 saves.

"I told Jesse before the game that we had to have 15 saves to win, and he gave us 17," Pietramala said. "When he makes 17, we're a pretty good team."

"I made a couple early, and the more you touch the ball and the more you save the ball it just builds your confidence," Schwartzman said.

Hopkins had plenty of that as the game wore on, and it got an assist from a sloppy Syracuse team that allowed two goals on goalie giveaways and another on an 18-yard shot that beat the halftime horn. That one, by Jake Byrne (3-1), made it 11-5 and sent goaltender Peter Coluccini to the bench. It also sent Pietramala storming onto the field when the officials reversed their ruling and waved off the goal. When the goal was restored, it was Syracuse coach John Desko's turn.

"I'm not going to tell you what I said," Pietramala said, "but I will say that in all the years I've been coaching I never got an official to change his mind."

"All I know is I picked up the ball at the top of the box [in Syracuse's offensive end] and started looking for a clock," said Rabil, who has 15 goals in four games against Syracuse. "There is no clock at the end I was running to, and the last time I looked there were nine seconds left, so I knew I didn't have time to get down there."

Instead, he lofted a long pass to Byrne, who turned and fired a long shot past the stunned Coluccini as the horn sounded.

"It was a mental lapse on my part," the goalie said. "I thought the whistle blew and the horn sounded, and I lost my concentration on the ball."

Johns Hopkins 6 5 5 1 - 17

Syracuse 2 3 1 3 - 9

Goals: J-Boyle 4, Rabil 3, Byrne 3, Christopher 2, Kimmel 2, Huntley, Bryan, Peyser. S-Brooks 3, Nims 2, Leveille, Rommel, Hardy, Loftus. Assists: Rabil 3, Boyle, Bryan, Byrne, Huntley. Saves: J-Schwartzman 17. S-Coluccini 6, Rotella 6.

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