The Johns Hopkins men's lacrosse team has figured out endless ways to beat Navy during a winning streak that spans more than three decades.
Yesterday, on a day when Hopkins senior goalie Jesse Schwartzman stumbled early and the Midshipmen shot the ball with great economy, the eighth-ranked Blue Jays used an unlikely game of keep-away to dispatch No. 7 Navy for the 33rd consecutive time, in yet another tight game between the rivals.
Junior midfielder Paul Rabil scored Hopkins' last two goals of the game, but it was junior midfielder Stephen Peyser who pushed the Blue Jays the most to a 10-9 victory, before 6,856 at Homewood Field.
Peyser did not score a point, yet no one gave Navy a bigger headache. Normally a backup to faceoff specialist Jamison Koesterer, Peyser stepped in for his injured teammate and won 14 of 17 faceoff attempts, grabbed 12 ground balls -- all career highs -- and took away the ace up Navy's sleeve.
Navy senior William Wallace was ranked second in the country after winning 70.4 percent of his previous draws. Wallace went 2-for-10 yesterday, when Hopkins held the ball for nearly two-thirds of the second half and produced a 5-2 run that finished the Mids.
"I tried to get my wind when I could," said Peyser, who ran with the first midfield, played some defense and was staggered at times by the heat and humidity. "There's something when you play on this team with these guys. It doesn't matter how tired you are or how exhausted you are. There's something else that keeps you going."
The Blue Jays (6-4) are going forward again, after beating Navy by one goal for the fourth straight time. Hopkins has won two straight after suffering through its first three-game losing streak in 17 seasons and is likely one win away from sealing its 36th consecutive NCAA tournament appearance.
It was another painful loss for the 9-3 Mids, who have not beaten the Blue Jays since 1974, have not topped Hopkins in Baltimore since 1969, and have had each of their losses this season come by one goal to a top 10 opponent.
Yesterday, Navy fell apart in critical areas and wasted 9-for-21 shooting -- and a three-goal day from freshman attackman Tim Paul and two more from senior midfielder Billy Looney.
Besides its faceoff problems, Navy failed on nine of 19 clearing attempts, committed three turnovers in the final four minutes and put too much pressure on a defense that wore down late.
"Just about everything in this game we thought was going to be a strength wasn't. We couldn't even turn [the faceoff battle] into a street fight. [Peyser] just beat us," Navy coach Richie Meade said. "When you fail to clear the ball nine times and you aren't pressured that much, it's a lack of understanding of the scheme. That's coaching."
The game featured six ties and four lead changes, and the Hopkins midfield closed the deal with seven goals, including three from freshman Michael Kimmel. But it was Rabil, the first-team All-American, who put the Blue Jays over the top, after Navy midfielder Tommy Wallin tied the score at 8 with 7:57 left.
First, Rabil blew by long-stick midfielder Jaren Woeppel and scored on a 10-yard runner from the left wing with 7:07 to go. Then, he scored his final goal and 100th career point from six yards out, after beating two defenders with a dodge down the middle. That gave Hopkins a 10-8 lead with 4:20 left.
Paul scored with 24 seconds left, but Peyser ate up the game's final faceoff. That relieved Hopkins coach Dave Pietramala, who was close to pulling Schwartzman for freshman Michael Gvozden.
Schwartzman had one save in the first half, as Navy took a 5-4 halftime lead. He rallied with three third-quarter stops.
"I told Jesse it was important for him to get off to a good start in the second half," Pietramala said. "If he did, we were fine. If he didn't, I would have to consider making a move."
Navy 3 2 1 3 -- 9
Johns Hopkins 2 2 3 3 -- 10
Goals: N--Paul 3, Looney 2, Wallin, Daratsos, Dingman, Wallace. JH--Rabil 3, Kimmel 3, Byrne 2, Huntley, Christopher. Assists: N--Mirabito 3, Wallin. JH--Boyle, Bryan. Saves: N--Finnegan 7. JH--Schwartzman 5.