The pain was doubly excruciating for the Johns Hopkins men’s lacrosse team.
Not only did the No. 16 Blue Jays waste a five-goal halftime advantage, but their 14-13 loss to No. 12 Ohio State at Homewood Field on Sunday afternoon puts them in a precarious position to qualify for the NCAA tournament.
With a 6-5 record, Johns Hopkins must hit the road and upset either No. 1 Penn State (10-1) on Saturday or No. 3 Maryland (9-2) on April 27 to assure itself of an above-.500 mark. Teams with losing records are automatically disqualified from consideration for the 17-team field.
The implications of Sunday’s setback were not lost on Blue Jays senior midfielder Alex Concannon.
“It hurts, but it’s how we respond now,” he said. “Basically, our backs are against the wall. We have to win these next two games. We can’t come out to practice on Monday sulking. We’ve got to forget about this and move on.”
For the second consecutive game, Johns Hopkins burst out of the gates. The offense scored the game’s first two goals and then embarked on a pair of 3-0 runs to enjoy an 8-3 lead at halftime.
Because redshirt junior midfielder Lukas Buckley had been flagged for pushing with eight seconds left in the second quarter, the Blue Jays opened the second half with an extra-man opportunity. And when freshman attackman Joey Epstein found Concannon in the slot just 10 seconds into the frame, they appeared poised to extend the advantage to six.
But Buckeyes redshirt sophomore goalkeeper Josh Kirson turned back Concannon’s shot on the doorstep, and 59 seconds later, sophomore attackman JT Bugliosi (Calvert Hall) ran off a pick set by Buckley for a wide-open chance from the high slot that trimmed the score to 8-4. That goal kicked off a 6-1 run over 8:49 capped by a goal from junior attackman Tre Leclaire that gave Ohio State its first lead of the day at 10-9 with 5:02 left in the quarter.
The inability to convert that man-up chance to begin the third quarter haunted Johns Hopkins coach Dave Pietramala.
“We didn’t finish our opportunities, and we had them,” he said. “We come out and on the first play of the third quarter, we had a lay-up, and we don’t make it. That changes the game if we make that. I thought we had a bunch of those where we didn’t cash in, and they turned around and they answered.”
The sides went back and forth, and the score was knotted at 13 until a pivotal sequence with less than a minute remaining in regulation. Blue Jays sophomore midfielder Jack Keogh got open from about 12 yards away, but his shot from the left point was corralled by Kirson with 59 seconds left for his 12th save.
Kirson lobbed a pass to senior short-stick defensive midfielder Logan Maccani streaking through the middle of the field for a four-on-three break. He drew a defender and promptly dumped the ball to sophomore attackman Jackson Reid just off the right side of the crease for the game-winning goal with 49 seconds remaining.
Reid, who paced the Buckeyes with six points on five goals and one assist, joked that he simply shot as hard as he could to get the ball past sophomore goalie Ryan Darby (12 saves). But he also credited Maccani with giving up the ball at the right time.
“He’s pretty good at that pass,” Reid said. “We practice that a lot during the week. So I had a pretty good idea he was going to pass it to me.”
Ohio State scored at least five goals in transition or unsettled situations, and coach Nick Myers said it was comforting to see the team convert those chances after flailing on them in losses to Rutgers and Penn State.
“We just told the guys, ‘You’ve got to keep running the field, you’ve got to keep throwing it,’” he said. “We didn’t anticipate them coming off of Tre today. So we knew we were going to get shots, that we were going to get that reverse rotation into Jackson Reid. He had a couple, and guys just made good decisions. On the game-winner, how many times do you see that defensive midfielder just shoot the ball? He loaded his hands and threw it to the right guy, who ultimately won the game for us.”
For the second game in a row, Johns Hopkins faltered in the second half after a strong start, but unlike that 15-13 win against Rutgers on April 6, the outcome was not encouraging. Pietramala said the coaches and players have to figure out how to reverse that mini-trend.
“We’re just not doing the simple things we need to do in the second half, and I think when things get tight, we don’t go back to being as disciplined as we can, as fundamental as we can,” he said. “We get a little antsy, and we try to make plays and we try to make things happen rather than allowing them to happen.”
Ohio State 1 2 7 4 — 14
Johns Hopkins 3 5 3 2 — 13
Goals: O—Reid 5, Leclaire 3, Wiseman 3, Jasinski 2, Bugliosi; J—Concannon 4, Epstein 3, Marr 2, Williams 2, Keogh, Shilling. Assists: O—Myers 2, Buckley, Jasinski, Leclaire, Maccani, Reid, Salisbury, Terefenko, Wiseman; J—Concannon 2, Epstein 2, DeSimone, Foley, Marr, F.Smith. Saves: O—Kirson 12; J—Darby 12.