The Maryland and Johns Hopkins lacrosse teams were in search of identities. Hopkins might have found itself, but the Terps are still looking.
No. 14 Hopkins scored five straight goals in the third quarter to turn a close game into a rout as the Blue Jays defeated No. 8 Maryland, 10-4, yesterday before an announced crowd of 8,626 at Homewood Field.
The win ended a five-game losing streak by the Blue Jays (4-5), who are hoping to use the victory as a springboard for confidence and a second straight run for the national championship.
"Winning is a hell of a lot better than losing," Hopkins coach Dave Pietramala said. "It seems like we almost forgot what it felt like. I think today we had the opportunity to show people we're not as bad as everybody thinks."
"This is step one for us tonight," Pietramala said. "In order to walk, you got to crawl. In order to run, you got to walk. We took a step today."
Maryland (7-4) is in no man's land. The Terps have lost two in a row and have scored only eight goals in their past two games.
Usually, a Maryland-Hopkins game is filled with intensity, great hits, comebacks and fights. But yesterday, Hopkins was a unanimous winner because the Terps were punchless on offense and defense.
The Blue Jays owned the crease on their offensive end, jamming in pass after pass for some easy goals. When Maryland had the ball, the Terps had no ball movement, even less motion.
The Terps were without leading scorer and attackman Travis Reed for the second straight game, out for violating team rules. But even Maryland coach Dave Cottle said Reed would have made little difference yesterday.
"I'll just talk about the guys who played," Cottle said. "Travis wouldn't have made a difference unless he's a faceoff guy."
"We're a young team, and some of the young guys were a little starry-eyed," Cottle said. "Where do we go from here? I think we'll watch some film and play around with the attack, and play around with the midfield. We're a transition team and we need to improve on our six-on-six offense. We have to improve some things to get their heads ready for Penn [next week's opponent], and that's where it needs to be."
Pietramala seems to have found his answers. He pulled Michael Kimmel off the first midfield yesterday and replaced him with Mark Bryan to get better ball movement in the first and put more scoring power in the second unit. He ran four attackmen at one time to counter Maryland's zone defense.
He rested starting midfielder and faceoff specialist Stephen Peyser more. Pietramala altered his defense, switching long-pole midfielders to close defense and close defensemen to long-pole midfield.
The bottom line was that Blue Jays starters got more rest, and Hopkins has something to build on.
"We can all take a deep breath," said attackman Michael Doneger, who finished with three goals. "We got some confidence back, but we're not going to get overconfident."
The Blue Jays, though, were in a groove. Besides Doneger, Hopkins got a big game from All-America midfielder Paul Rabil, who finished with three goals and an assist. The Blue Jays have been waiting all season for Rabil to have a big game.
Hopkins also got two long-range goals from midfielder Austin Walker, who is known more for his passing ability than his shooting. But most important, the Blue Jays won the game because they won 15 of 18 faceoffs, 12 of those by Peyser.
"Not only did they keep the ball from us, they scored on us," Cottle said. "We tried five different guys at faceoffs. We tried two long poles. We would have tried three. We had no answers."
The end for Maryland came during the third quarter. Peyser opened the scoring in the period by winning the opening faceoff and then scoring from straight on four seconds into the quarter as Hopkins took a 4-2 lead. Doneger took a pass at the top of the crease from Kimmel a little more than a minute later to score for a three-goal Hopkins advantage.
Walker scored with 12:42 left and then with 8:14 remaining. Rabil then scored with 7:31 to give Hopkins an 8-2 lead.
Maryland finally broke the scoring streak when attackman Grant Catalino scored with 4:36 left with Hopkins down two men. The Blue Jays won the first six faceoffs in the third period.