On the weekly assignment and publication schedule that Pete and Dave send out to the writers, this story is called "Men's lacrosse vs. Johns Hopkins reaction". I think three words would cover it, "It wasn't pretty." In a game with echoes from last year's 7-4 loss to the Blue Jays in College Park, The Terrapins dropped another important game in the sport's greatest rivalry Saturday with Hopkins finishing on the long end of an 11-6 final score.
The importance of this game in the state of Maryland becomes immediately apparent in the 9,553 sellout crowd at Homewood field in Baltimore. Not only did Hopkins designate the game as homecoming, but in their six previous home games this season, games that included foes such as Towson, Syracuse, and North Carolina, the Blue Jays had drawn a collective total of 11,625. But the game held much more import than mere in state bragging rights. For Hopkins, already losses to three ACC teams on their schedule, a victory meant backing up a win over a good Albany squad with another important quality win. For Maryland, a win would help to continue exorcising the ghosts of last season which began with a fast start then began to tumble with the loss to thei biggest in state rival.
Things didn't start well for Maryland when Charlie Raffa lost the opening face off to Drew Kennedy but Maryland goalie Niko Amato made a big save and the Terps turned quickly to the attack. The Terps looked a bit nervous or anxious in their initial possession and, continuing a troubling pattern that has arisen in the last several games, Maryland committed a rather sloppy turnover. This time the home team was kind and a lax pass in the midfield gave the ball right back to the Terps.
The teams traded turnovers again before the the goalies traded saves and the game looked as though it might turn into a battle of two goalies both in the midst of strong seasons. Hopkins goalie Eric Schneider entered the game averaging more than ten saves while yielding fewer than nine goals per game. Amato, a preseason All-American, was ringing up nine saves and conceding only seven goals.
Hopkins got on the board first on a strong one on one move that left Amato little chance to make the save and the Blue Jays took a lead they would never relinquish and the quarter ended with the visitors trailing by that single goal. The worrisome stats for Maryland's fans were the Terps 0-6 shooting and five turnovers.
After Connor Cannizzaro hit the post and Schneider came up with a save, Hopkins answered with another score to go up 2-0. Maryland answered with a score on a man up situation but the Terps wouldn't find the net again for nearly nineteen minutes of game time while Hopkins found the net four times.
For several minutes, Amato and Maryland's defense kept the Terrapins within striking distance. Beginning late in the second quarter JHU picked up two extra man opportunities and converted on both. Perhaps the most devastating goal of the span came at the end of the quarter when Kennedy won one of only six face offs he won on the day against Raffa. The Blue Jays ran the clock down and with eight seconds to play in the half Wells Stanwick came around a pick - an offensive attack that troubled the Terps all day - and scored on a jump shot giving the home team a four goal lead at 5-1 as the teams went into the halftime break.
When JHU scored early in the third quarter to go up 6-1, it looked as though the game was, for all intents and purposes over. The Terps continued to struggle to find any offensive rhythm and flow and Schneider became more and more confident in goal. Maryland ended the scoreless stretch with another extra-man goal but Hopkins scored another late period goal to lead by five entering the fourth.
The Terps capitalized on an early extra-man opportunity and picked up another foul on Hopkins to give the visitors an advantage on the subsequent face off. Raffa won the face off and attacked quickly down field but turned the ball over trying to flip a pass denying Maryland another potential EMO situation. Again, Hopkins capitalized on a Terrapins' mistake and scored two straight to go up 9-3 and effectively put the game out of reach.
Though the Terps would rally briefly with three straight in the middle of the fourth, Kennedy was again able to win a crucial face off after Maryland had closed to within three at 9-6 with five minutes to play. Hopkins was able to run the clock down and score on two clock warnings for the final 11-6 margin.
Maryland will travel to South Bend to take on a quality Notre Dame squad on April nineteenth. With the loss at Johns Hopkins and the specter of last season's difficulties, the game takes on added significance. In the week of preparation, the Terps will need to focus on protecting the ball, running better six on six sets, and defending the pick offense. The young guns responded well after the loss at North Carolina but they had the advantage of playing at home. Saturday will be another test of their mettle.