The Johns Hopkins men's lacrosse team did what no other opponent could figure out against Towson's vaunted defense: score goals.
The No. 14 Blue Jays (3-2) got four goals each from senior attackman Ryan Brown and sophomore attackman Shack Stanwick to defeat the No. 5 Tigers, 14-8, before an announced 2,468 at Homewood Field in Baltimore on Saturday.
The competitive nature of the game was somewhat distorted by Johns Hopkins scoring three times in the final three minutes, during which Towson's six defensive players and junior goalkeeper Matt Hoy – who had replaced starter Tyler White to take advantage of his quickness – were chasing the Blue Jays to get the ball back.
Nonetheless, Johns Hopkins became the first opponent of the year to reach the double-digit mark in goals against the Tigers (5-1), who had entered the game ranked second in Division I in fewest average goals allowed at 5.6. In fact, they had given up no more than eight goals in a game this season.
"They have a really good goalie, and they're a good defense," said Brown, the Sykesville resident and Calvert Hall graduate who added an assist. "So for us, we didn't really want to force the first shot we had because it probably wasn't going to be a great shot and their goalie would probably make that save. We wanted to have good possessions where we were really working our offense and get a good, solid shot on goal instead of taking just the first available shot because that was probably going to get eaten up."
Nine of the Blue Jays' goals were assisted and at least five were skip passes to an open teammate in the slot or on the crease. Stanwick, the Baltimore resident and Boys' Latin graduate who also had three assists, said the offense saw opportunities on the backside of Towson's defense.
"You've just got to take what the defense gives you," he said. "I think that was kind of something throughout the game that was there, and we just took advantage of it."
White, the redshirt senior who posted a game-high seven saves, acknowledged that Johns Hopkins exposed some holes.
"They're very good behind the cage," he said. "Stanwick is a very good feeder, and all of their players have really good hands. But as Coach alluded to, we were a little tight today, and the second slides weren't there all the time. As you probably saw, a lot of their goals were feeds to the backside, and we just didn't have them covered up."
While Johns Hopkins hummed along on offense, the defense contained the Tigers to a season-low 26 shots. Junior attackman Joe Seider (Hereford), who entered the game leading the team in goals with 11, was held by junior defenseman Austin Spencer to one goal on nine shots, and junior attackman Ryan Drenner (Westminster), the team's leader in assists (nine) and points (19), did not record a single point in his matchup with junior defenseman Nick Fields.
"Towson had 26 shots total in the game, and as a defense, that's what you can hope for and especially with a team like Towson that has shooters all over the place," said sophomore goalie Brock Turnbaugh, who made six stops. "We did a great job of getting out to their hands and forcing bad shots, and we came up with some big stops when we needed to."
Trailing 7-5 after three quarters, the Tigers halved the deficit after senior midfielder Ben McCarty (South Carroll) scored his third goal of the contest just 68 seconds into the final period.
Although the Blue Jays scored four of the next five goals to create some distance, Seider converted a centering pass from senior attackman Spencer Parks (St. Paul's) to draw Towson within 11-8 with 6:25 remaining.
But after the Tigers won the ensuing faceoff, Parks overthrew Seider, leading to a turnover. Towson was forced to ask Hoy to join his defensive teammates to vacate the cage, which Johns Hopkins took advantage with with empty-net goals from freshman midfielder Drew Supinski (two goals and two assists) and Stanwick in a 41-second span to put the game out of reach.
McCarty was the only Tigers player to register multiple points. And after knocking off the Blue Jays, 7-5, last season, Towson lost to Johns Hopkins for the 20th time in the last 21 meetings and still hasn't won at Homewood Field since April 17, 1996.
Coach Shawn Nadelen pointed out that the Tigers committed 13 turnovers to the Blue Jays' 12, misfired on 3-of-15 clears, and lost the ground ball battle 33-22.
"I thought we made a lot of self-inflicted wounds throughout the whole course of the game and really couldn't get ourselves on track on a consistent basis," he said. "Whether they created the turnovers or we created our own turnovers, if you do that against a really good team – which Hopkins is – they're going to capitalize and they did that and that gave them a big edge in the game. I think we came out a little bit tight, which I was a surprised at, and I think that led to a lot of the early mishaps and put us in a little bit of a hole."