The Johns Hopkins men's lacrosse team finally broke through in overtime.
For the third time this season, the Blue Jays were extended to an extra session, but unlike the previous two occasions, they emerged with a win, edging visiting Penn State, 11-10, in double overtime before an announced 2,952 at Homewood Field in Baltimore Saturday night.
Freshman midfielder Joel Tinney's goal with seven seconds left in the second overtime period ensured that Johns Hopkins — which had dropped identical 16-15 overtime decisions to Princeton on Feb. 28 and Virginia on March 21— would not lose in extra sessions for the third time in a single campaign, which last happened in 2008.
The team's misfortune in overtime this spring was not lost on Tinney or coach Dave Pietramala.
"Relieved, excited? More than anything, I'm just happy for our kids," Pietramala said. "They've worked so hard, and we've been unable to get out of our own way. We still made some mistakes tonight, but we finally got the stops we needed at the end of the game, and we finally made the play in the offensive end that we needed. So I'm really thrilled for our guys."
"We needed it bad," said Tinney, who finished with three goals and two assists. "We've had a couple of upsets in overtime against Princeton and UVA. It really helps in the locker room for the guys. We played this game for our seniors knowing that when it was coming down to crunch time, we needed this for the Big Ten more than anything."
And the Blue Jays needed the win badly, improving to 5-6 overall and 2-1 in the Big Ten. They have sole possession of third place in the conference.
And it was made possible by Tinney, who had a hand in his team's final three goals. He assisted junior attackman Ryan Brown's fifth goal of the contest that knotted the score at 9-9 with 7:25 left in the fourth quarter. (The Sykesville resident and Calvert Hall graduate, who also had an assist, became the first Johns Hopkins player to score at least five goals in back-to-back games since Conor Ford did it in 2004.)
Then with 1:27 remaining, Tinney drove down the right alley and passed the ball to senior attackman Wells Stanwick, who one-timed it from the left crease to give Johns Hopkins a 10-9 lead.
But the Nittany Lions got the equalizer with 33 seconds left on a heady play from sophomore midfielder Nick Aponte. Junior attackman T.J. Sanders' shot from up top went wide left. But Aponte standing to the left of the cage caught the ball and quickly skipped a pass to sophomore attackman Mike Sutton standing alone on the right wing for a low blast that evaded junior goalkeeper Will Ryan (nine saves).
In the second overtime, Stanwick curled around the right post, looking for breathing room. Unable to find any, he passed the ball to Tinney, who skipped a shot from the right point past redshirt sophomore goalie Connor Darcey.
Tinney said he intentionally avoided shooting high on Darcey, who made a game-high 13 stops.
"He robbed me at the end of regulation," Tinney said. "So I wanted to mix up my shots. I hadn't really thrown any bounce shots today. So I ended up catching him with that one."
Tinney credited Stanwick for drawing a slide and finding him, but Stanwick praised the freshman for not letting the pressure of the moment affect him.
"Joel made the play happen," said the Baltimore resident and Boys' Latin graduate, who finished with two goals and five assists. "I just threw it to him."
Aponte recorded one goal and three assists, and senior midfielder Pat Manley (St. Mary's) scored four goals for Penn State (3-8, 0-3), which has lost five consecutive games.
"I feel terrible for our kids," coach Jeff Tambroni said. "They've battled through a tough season. I think you get what you deserve. Nobody's going to feel sorry for Penn State, but I thought they battled today. I don't think we played very well in the first half. Credit Johns Hopkins, but I thought we came out in the second half and played a little bit more fluid offensively and our goalie played really well. When it's that close, it's one shot and one save and, unfortunately, we just couldn't make it."