As modest as the Johns Hopkins men's lacrosse team's two-game winning streak might seem, it has accomplished one thing: burying the memory of that five-game losing slide.
The No. 6 Blue Jays' 12-5 defeat of No. 10 Navy at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis yesterday has breathed new life into a team some fans and observers thought to be dead after dropping five straight games just two weeks earlier.
Back-to-back wins over in-state rivals Maryland last week and now the Midshipmen, however, have had a healing effect on Johns Hopkins (5-5), the defending NCAA champion.
"We kind of needed just to get that one win and start to build off of that and have some confidence and really get our team to rally around that," senior attackman Kevin Huntley (Calvert Hall) said. "It seemed like as soon as we won the Maryland game, a weight was lifted off of our chests. We stopped worrying about losing and thinking we had to win and just [thought of] going out and playing."
An announced 16,042 - the second-largest crowd to watch a lacrosse game at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium - saw two teams finding different degrees of success yesterday.
The Blue Jays, who have won the past 34 meetings with Navy (9-4), scored the game's first four goals and turned a 6-3 halftime score into a rout by scoring the first five goals of the second half.
Hopkins' 12 goals were the most surrendered by Navy this season.
Huntley - who had scored three goals in three previous games against Navy - paced the Blue Jays with a hat trick and an assist, including two goals and an assist during the decisive game-opening run.
Senior attackman Michael Doneger scored two goals, while senior midfielders Paul Rabil and Stephen Peyser and junior midfielder Mark Bryan each added a goal and an assist.
"Coach [Dave Pietramala] always emphasizes the first five minutes of every game," Peyser said. "If we can win the first five minutes, that's going to help us, and we try to do that every single quarter. I think that was huge for us today."
Conversely, the Midshipmen could not muster much on their end, and after senior attackman Nick Mirabito scored with 5:48 left in the second quarter, the offense went scoreless for the next 32:34.
Sophomore attackman Tim Paul (Loyola) led Navy with two goals, scoring both in a 49-second span in the first quarter. But the Midshipmen could not solve Johns Hopkins sophomore goalkeeper Michael Gvozden, who finished with 16 saves.
"I think the main thing was our defense," said Gvozden (Severna Park). "They were forcing 15-yard shots all day. That makes my job a lot easier."
Navy, which hasn't beaten the Blue Jays since May 4, 1974, has dropped three of its past four games and will head to the Patriot League tournament for a possible semifinal meeting with No. 9 Army, which defeated the Midshipmen, 9-6, on April 12.
Coach Richie Meade seemed defiant in assessing his team's path to the postseason.
"Everything we want to do is in front of us," he said. "All of this stuff right now is just lessons. We're going to have to play in the Patriot League, and we will play well."
Notes -- With 98 career goals, Huntley ranks 17th among Johns Hopkins' all-time goal scorers. Rabil's 62 career assists put him one shy of tying Terry Riordan for 16th on the school's all-time list. ... Mirabito moved into a tie for eighth place with Dave Bayly on Navy's all-time list with 153 career points. ... The announced attendance at yesterday's game was exceeded only by the 18,694 that watched Navy play Johns Hopkins in firstname.lastname@example.org
Hopkins 5 1 3 3 - 12
Navy 2 1 0 2 - 5
Goals: H-Huntley 3, Doneger 2, Rabil, Peyser, Bryan, Wharton, Boyle, Jaffe, Miller; N-Paul 2, Mirabito, Standen, Clement. Assists: H-Bryan, Duerr, Huntley, Peyser; N-Gallagher, Moran. Saves: H-Gvozden 16, Sheain; N-Phelan.