A whole lot of chatter accompanied Johns Hopkins' 9-7 win over host Towson yesterday.
Tigers coach Tony Seaman provided fighting words for his next opponent and claimed that the Blue Jays' Stephen Peyser dominated the faceoff X because he was jumping the whistle.
Peyser challenged goalkeeper Jesse Schwartzman to perform like the guy who was the Most Outstanding Player in the 2005 NCAA tournament.
On Friday, Schwartzman heeded coach Dave Pietramala and returned to the happy space of that championship season.
Peyser won 12 of 15 faceoffs and was one of four Hopkins players to score twice. Schwartzman was beaten four times in the first period, but just once over the next 33 minutes on Minnegan Field at Johnny Unitas Stadium.
In its past three games, Hopkins has beaten Maryland, Navy and Towson by a combined four goals and allowed none to reach double figures, but Schwartzman, a third-year senior starter out of Pikesville High with that NCAA title under his belt, hadn't been performing to expectations.
"Coach tells me that he used to look at his best games when he was down," Schwartzman said. "After practice Friday, I watched the tape from the 2005 Towson game here [an 8-4 Hopkins win]. That was one of my best games ever. Watching that reminded me of who I am, the player I can be."
Towson closed the first period with three goals in as many minutes to take a 4-2 lead, but the Blue Jays tightened, figured out some Tigers defensive twists and owned the third period.
Johns Hopkins outscored Towson 4-0 in that decisive quarter, with Jake Byrne quick-sticking a feed from freshman Steven Boyle for an 8-5 lead and what proved to be the winning goal with 1:15 left in the period.
No. 6 in The Sun rankings, Johns Hopkins (7-4) continued to enhance its NCAA tournament resume and goes for its fourth straight win tomorrow, at Mount St. Mary's.
It was Hopkins' 12th straight win over Towson (8-5). The Tigers' last success in the Charles Street series came in 1996, when Seaman was in charge of the Blue Jays. Afterward, his frustration flowed freely.
No. 15 Towson's hope for entry into the NCAAs hinges on the Colonial Athletic Association tournament. The top-seeded Tigers will have home-field advantage, but Hofstra has some bulletin-board material for Wednesday's semifinal.
"Hofstra walked out of here awfully lucky," Seaman said of the Pride's April 14 overtime win at Towson.
Seaman also offered an opinion as to why Peyser won 12 of 15 faceoffs against Matt Eckerl.
"Peyser's got this thing figured out," Seaman said. "If he goes early every whistle, they can only call it so many times. We have to adjust to that, and beat him on the whistle."
A subplot matched coordinators and former Blue Jays teammates, Shawn Nadelen for Towson's defense against Bobby Benson for Hopkins' offense. The Tigers went zone when Paul Rabil had the ball out top and tried to deny him and the other Hopkins midfielders before they ever got it.
The schemes worked, until that third quarter. Goals by Jonathan Engelke and Bobby Griebe got Towson within 8-7 with 6:46 left, but Brian Vetter lost possession to a Blue Jays double team just before Rabil iced it with 1:03 remaining.
"In the second half, we woke up," Pietramala said. "Our defense was awful, plain and simple, in the first half. We might as well have taken the game plan, crumpled it up and threw it in the trash."
Johns Hopkins 2 2 4 1 -- 9
Towson 4 1 0 2 -- 7
Goals: JH--Boyle 2, Rabil 2, Huntley 2, Peyser 2, Byrne; T--B. Vetter 2, Engelke 2, Griebe, Obloj, Hagelin. Assists: JH--Boyle 2, Bryan, Byrne, Kimmel, Rabil; T--Griebe, Hagelin, Obloj, B. Vetter. Saves: JH--Schwartzman 9; T--Antol 10.