Even before Saturday night’s men’s lacrosse game against Maryland, Johns Hopkins knew it would live to play another day after earning a berth in the upcoming Big Ten tournament next week. And now the program’s prospects of playing beyond are much brighter.
The Blue Jays scored their most significant victory of the season by upending No. 2 Maryland, 16-11, before an announced 12,405 at Maryland Stadium.
The win guaranteed that Johns Hopkins (7-6 overall and 3-2 Big Ten) will at least be eligible for NCAA tournament consideration even with a loss to the Terps in a Big Ten tournament semifinal on Thursday at Rutgers’ HighPoint.com Stadium in Piscataway, N.J. Another upset of Maryland (11-3, 3-2) might cement a spot in the postseason even if the team lost in the league’s title game Saturday.
“We understand that we’re in a position where we just have to win out almost the rest of the season,” senior defenseman Patrick Foley said. “This game was a good step in the right direction. But next Thursday is even more important. We’re going to see a new Maryland team, and they’re going to see a new [Johns Hopkins] team. So the biggest point is that we take this win, and we learn from our mistakes.”
Blue Jays freshman attackman Joey Epstein led all scorers with six points on four goals and two assists. Junior attackman Cole Williams (Loyola Blakefield) added three goals and one assist, and junior midfielder Forry Smith had two goals and two assists. After giving up two goals to junior attackman Jared Bernhardt in the first quarter, Foley silenced Bernhardt for the remainder of the game.
Playing arguably its best first half of the season, Johns Hopkins roared back from a 5-1 deficit in the first quarter with three consecutive goals over a 5:18 span stretching into the second quarter. Even after redshirt sophomore attackman Logan Wisnauskas (Boys’ Latin) scored with 11:39 left in the second quarter, the Blue Jays embarked on a 5-0 run to close out the stanza and enjoy a 9-6 advantage at halftime.
“In the first 12 minutes, we were selfish,” coach Dave Pietramala said. “We were late sliding to [sophomore midfielder Bubba] Fairman with a short-stick on him. How is that possible? We talked about that all week. So we did a better job of playing team defense and support, and that was the biggest difference defensively. Offensively, we finally shared the ball. We’ve been holding the ball for too long, nine, 10 seconds at a clip. Today, we moved it, and we let the ball do the work for us a little bit.”
The Terps took a season-low 21 shots, including just four each in the second and third quarters, and lost 17-of-31 faceoffs.
But coach John Tillman was more dismayed by the 16 goals scored by Johns Hopkins.
“I think everything in lacrosse is complementary,” he said. “When you’re winning faceoffs, your defense is more rested. When you clear better, you’re better rested. When you have longer possession on offense, it helps your defense. I felt like we put our defense in a really tough spot at times, especially after the first quarter.”
Maryland opened the third quarter with a goal from Fairman, ending a scoreless streak of 12:31 and drawing to within two at 9-7. But the Blue Jays responded with three straight goals over a 6:08 span for its largest lead of the game at 12-7 with 3:33 remaining.
The Terps got five goals from Fairman and one goal and three assists from Wisnauskas (Boys’ Latin).
No. 2 seed Maryland and No. 3 seed Hopkins will square off again on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. at Rutgers after the host and No. 4 seed Scarlet Knights play No. 1 seed Penn State at 5 p.m. The title game is scheduled for Saturday at 7 p.m. All games will be broadcast on Big Ten Network.
No. 2 Maryland women 19, Johns Hopkins 12: Graduate student midfielder Erica Evans led all scorers with seven points on six goals and one assist to propel the Terps (17-0 overall and 6-0 in the Big Ten) to their fifth consecutive league regular-season championship.
The outburst by Evans, who transferred from Canisius to use her final year of eligibility, was timely as the Blue Jays (10-7, 2-4) employed a defensive strategy of face-guarding senior midfielder and leading scorer Jen Giles.
“I just think it opens everybody else up, too,” said Evans, who ranks second on the offense in goals with 41. “Taking away Jen, she’s obviously a big part of our team, but we have so many threats on the offense that it’s hard to stop just one of us.”
Evans got plenty of help from her teammates. Senior midfielder Jen Giles (Mount Hebron) and senior attacker Caroline Steele (Severn) registered three goals and two assists each. Junior attacker Kali Hartshorn found the net four times, and junior attacker Brindi Griffin (McDonogh) chipped in three goals and one assist.
Johns Hopkins opened the second half with redshirt senior midfielder Ellie McNulty converting a pass from junior attacker Maggie Schneidereith (Towson) to draw within two at 8-6 just 88 seconds into the frame. But Maryland scored four straight goals over a 4:07 span to cement the victory.
The Blue Jays were paced by four goals and one assist from sophomore attacker Aurora Cordingley and three goals and one assist from senior attacker Miranda Ibello (Maryvale Prep). But coach Janine Tucker took note that the Terps scored six goals on 13 free-position chances.
“We could have adjusted a little bit more, but some of them were frustrating,” she said. “So always we’ll put it back on us, that we need to do things a little differently whether it’s getting in and out of the eight-meter quicker to avoid the three-second call or just trying to take a batter angle to avoid the shooting-space [calls]. But a team that moves the ball that well is going to kind of catch you.”
Johns Hopkins; 3; 6; 3; 4; —; 16
Maryland; 5; 1; 3; 2; —; 11
Goals: J—Epstein 4, Williams 3, Baskin 2, Smith 2, Concannon, DeSimone, Foley, Kuhn, Marr; M—Fairman 5, Bernhardt 2, DeMaio, Masci, Pugliese, Wisnauskas. Assists: J—Epstein 2, Smith 2, DeSimone, Marr, Williams, Zinn; M—Wisnauskas 3, Dolan. Saves: J—Darby 2; M—Dolan 13.
Johns Hopkins 5 7 — 12
Maryland 8 11 — 19