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College lacrosse notebook: Johns Hopkins women hanging on to postseason hopes

“I still think we’re absolutely one of the last teams in,” Hopkins women's lacrosse coach Janine Tucker said about her team's chances of earning a spot in the NCAA tournament. “I think our RPI is where it needs to be."
“I still think we’re absolutely one of the last teams in,” Hopkins women's lacrosse coach Janine Tucker said about her team's chances of earning a spot in the NCAA tournament. “I think our RPI is where it needs to be." (Karl Merton Ferron / Baltimore Sun)

The regular season is over for the Johns Hopkins women’s program, which will not participate in the weekend’s Big Ten tournament at Homewood Field. But that has not stopped the team from practicing and hoping that it will earn a spot in the NCAA tournament.

“I still think we’re absolutely one of the last teams in,” coach Janine Tucker said Saturday after the team’s 19-12 loss at then-No. 2 Maryland. “I think our RPI is where it needs to be. We play a challenging schedule, and we’ve had some phenomenal games. I think we deserve to go. I think this team has done enough with significant wins, and that strength of schedule and that RPI really mean something. … I’m going to remain very hopeful.”

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The Blue Jays (10-7, 2-4 Big Ten) will not be able to compete for the Big Ten automatic qualifier, which will be awarded to the tournament champion on Sunday. So they have to wait to see if the selection committee will give them one of 13 at-large berths in the NCAA postseason.

After Sunday’s games, Johns Hopkins was ranked 18th in RPI by the NCAA and owned one significant win against No. 13 Loyola Maryland. Tucker admitted that the team missed out on opportunities to improve that ranking with losses to No. 8 Michigan (16-11) and No. 17 Penn (11-10 in overtime).

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Saturday’s lacrosse doubleheader at Maryland Stadium in College Park began with the No. 2 Maryland women rolling Johns Hopkins and ended with the Blue Jays men upending the No. 2 Terps.

“We hate it, but it’s what my group needs to learn,” she said. “Losing to UPenn by one, giving Northwestern a great fight, giving Michigan a great fight, we’re right there. But I still think that of that field of tournament teams, I really believe we could do some good things. So we’re going to remain hopeful.”

Terps women cash in

Converting free-position shots is no easy assignment, but top-ranked Maryland has been one of the more opportunistic teams in that department, ranking third among Division I offenses at 52.2 percent (70 of 134).

The success rate would be the highest for the Terps (17-0, 6-0 Big Ten) since the 2014 squad finished at 52.9 percent (64 of 121) en route to the NCAA title. After going 6-of-13 (including 6-of-11 in the second half) in Saturday’s 19-12 thumping of Johns Hopkins, graduate student midfielder Erica Evans said the players are always looking to take advantage of those chances.

Brody, a starting attackman, ranks second among the No. 13 Tigers in goals and points, while Jake, a two-way midfielder, is a vital utility presence on both sides of the field.

“We’re such a strong, talented free-position shooting team,” said Evans, who scored two of her game-high six goals on Saturday via free-position situations. “Some games, that’s going to win games even if it’s only one or two. We focus on that in practice and working on that and just placing our shots and going hard to the goal.”

Four for Forry

Forry Smith tied a career- and season-high in points with two goals and two assists, but the junior midfielder may have been at his playmaking best in No. 16 Johns Hopkins’ 16-11 upset of then-No. 2 Maryland on Saturday.

Smith scored one goal on a nifty dodge at the top of the box and scored his second by using a screen to get free and convert a pass from senior attackman Kyle Marr. Smith’s two assists were also a career best, and coach Dave Pietramala called his performance “great.”

Johns Hopkins’ Joey Epstein was recognized Tuesday by the Big Ten as the Freshman of the Year. He ranks second in the conference in goals (3.0) and points per game (5.0) and fifth in assists per game (2.0).

“What we saw was Forry be a leader,” he said. “He had the right things to say in the locker room today, and I was glad to see him rewarded for his hard work and his leadership this week in practice. He’s carried the right message all week, and we need to get contributions from those other guys. They’re keying on [freshman attackman] Joey [Epstein], they’re keying on Kyle and [junior attackman] Cole [Williams], and now we’ve got contributions. … He had a good night, and I thought he let the game come to him. He didn’t force it, and when he got his opportunities, he cashed in.”

Frazier leaving Hood

Saturday’s 14-13 women’s overtime loss to Lycoming capped Hood’s season — and Molly Frazier’s tenure at the program.

The fourth-year coach is moving in July to England because her husband got a new job there. In Frazier’s final season, the Blazers set school single-season records for wins (nine), goals (209), assists (91), points (300) and caused turnovers (158). She acknowledged that leaving will be “tough.”

“I step out onto the practice field every day and I take a deep breath because I know that I’m leaving, and I’m having the time of my life,” Frazier said recently. “These girls work so hard, and they know that I’m leaving, but they’re still working hard and respect me and understand what we want as a team goal. They just keep chugging along. It’s hard. It’s definitely bittersweet. But I know that the program’s going to continue to take off and progress when I leave. We’ve set a good foundation.”

Notes: With 18 saves in Friday’s 13-12 upset of then-No. 16 Boston University, senior Ryan Kern became the 10th goalkeeper in Navy men’s history to total 400 saves in his career, finishing with 416. With 167 stops this spring, he also joined RJ Wickham and John Connors as the only goalies in the last 20 years to rank among the program’s Top 20 leaders in single-season saves. … Towson junior defender Sami Chenoweth, a Manchester resident and Manchester Valley graduate, finished the regular season leading all Division I players in caused turnovers with 63, which is also a program record. … With five goals in the Stevenson men’s 12-8 win against Widener in a Middle Atlantic Conference Commonwealth tournament semifinal on Wednesday night, senior attackman JT Thelen has scored 185 career goals, eclipsing the previous all-time record of 181 set by Richie Ford (Towson) from 2008-11. … Senior attackman Grayson Zubradt set the Hood men’s single-season mark for points with 72 and tied his own school record for goals with 52. … Hood senior midfielder Rachel Slater wrapped up her career setting school single-season marks in points with 71 and draw controls with 89.

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