The glass slipper has been smashed in Baltimore as Johns Hopkins took out Cinderella story Delaware 8-3 on Saturday. With hat tricks from Michael Kimmel and Stephen Peyser, the Blue Jays were able to control the tempo of the game. Jesse Schwartzman was stalwart in cage, behind a defense that stymied the Blue Hen’s offense all day. Coach Dave Pietramala’s team has hit its stride at the right time, as Hopkins will now try to win its ninth NCAA title on Monday.
From the opening whistle Delaware’s Alex Smith’s dominance at the faceoff X would be almost a nonfactor. Peyser was able to beat or disrupt Smith almost all day. The few faecoffs Delaware did win came from procedural penalties.
“They’re going early,” Blue Hens’ coach Bob Shillinglaw griped at halftime. While the refs did not agree, the zoom cameras of television seemed to support Shill’s claim fairly often.
Both goalies looked sharp from the get-go. Delaware’s Tommy Scherr started his day eating up a good outside shot by Jake Byrne. Then Schwartzman showed equal poise, saving a shot on the doorstep off of his helmet’s bill.
When Hopkins did settle into possessions, they tried to run a lot of inversion. They consistently pushed the edges of the cage, trying to wrap around and if not take the edge, pull a slide and a dump pass. But Delaware seemed ready for the challenge early. Their poles played aggressive, not backing down from any dodge, and getting sticks in the passing lanes.
Peyser was able to strike the first blow. A communication lapse by Delaware left Peyser wide open as his man left him and no one new switched. Taking advantage of the mistake, Peyser unleashed a high-to-low jump shot with very little angle that beat Scherr, giving Hopkins the early 1-0 lead. The Jays would never trail in this game.
Scherr regained his composure making a series of sharp, sprawling saves during a rebound melee in front of the cage. The Blue Hens’ defense established a formidable tone early: if you were going to come inside, you were going to pay for it. Delaware defenders stuck to a shoot first ask questions later philosophy, throwing bodies around and worrying about penalties after they were called.
Hopkins held the ball for much of the first quarter, aiding their defense immensely in the balmy 90+ degree temperatures on the field. Scherr remained fresh though, making a great save where he trapped a running shot between his legs, then quickly finding the ball before the rebound was stolen away.
Hopkins’ horse, Paul Rabil, ended the first quarter ripping a blistering 18-yarder that just rattled the post. Rabil was able to find his mark though about five minutes into the second quarter. Taking a little separation he created off a dodge, Rabil ripped a running 15-yarder right past Scherr for the 2-0 Hopkins lead.
Delaware’s offense struggled to crack the Hopkins defense. Players consistently tried to work on their men and set up dodges, but even if they found a step, a slide was quickly there.
Delaware was finally able to get onto the scoreboard in the waning minutes of the second quarter. Curtis Dickson working from X got doubled as he charged the pipe. Hopkins poles brutally laid into him, and Dickson was able to split the double and get the inside edge, slipping a ball under Schwartzman and gaining a one minute slash penalty (which the Hens would subsequently squander). The first half would end with Delaware trailing 2-1.
Peyser took the opening faceoff of the second half (on what looked like jumping the gun, again). The quick draw strategy seemed to be a game plan. Jump the whistle and win the draw, if you get called, at least you prevent the fast break.
Hopkins built their lead to three as Kimmel tallied his first goal of the game. Getting the ball up top, Kimmel just ran across the top of the box and ripped a shot high and hard past Scherr.
Delaware quickly answered as J.J. Moran caught a pass about 16 yards out and just blasted the ¾ shot past Schwartzman, getting the deficit back to one, at 3-2. The game would never be this close again.
Hopkins erupted on a 5-0 scoring run with 50 seconds left in the quarter. Tommy Duerr got the ball at X, drove around, and just ripped a low shot past Scherr. Kimmel got his second goal in similar fashion. Starting at one wing and wrapping around behind the cage to the other, Kimmel was able to take the corner when no slide came to greet him. Standing in point blank range, he simply stuffed the ball in the cage.
Peyser then tallied his second goal in the early seconds of the fourth quarter. As he drove down the wing and beat his man, no slide came and he was able to unload another hard high-to-low shot that beat Scherr to the opposite post.
In the midst of the flurry, Scherr did make a great save on a shot from the doorstep. Schwartzman then equaled the feat by somehow getting a piece of a Dickson shot on the crease.
Peyser got his third and final goal, a carbon copy of what he had been doing all day. Carrying down the right side, Peyser got separation and blasted a shot to the far low post. Kimmel ended the run with his third goal, again wrapping from behind and beating Scherr high and hard when no slide came. With fewer than five minutes to go, Hopkins had built an 8-2 lead.
Delaware’s offense could not respond with the urgency it needed. Continuing to try to establish dodges and unassisted goals didn’t work all game, and it wasn’t working now. With about three minutes left, Dan Deckelbaum, who had been a bulldozer all day, just bullied his way through the Hopkins defense, almost fell, but then righted himself and blasted a shot past Schwartzman. Unfortunately the goal counted for pride, and little else.
Hopkins was able to get possession and survive some vicious assaults by Delaware defensemen, winding out the clock, and securing the 8-3 victory.
The Blue Jays advance to play Memorial Day in their home city due to impressive defensive performances throughout the tournament. They will have to count on a similarly staunch outing to slow the offensive juggernaut of Duke, the team they will line up against Monday.
The game will be a rematch of the 2005 championship that Hopkins won 9-8. Though Hopkins does not have the same talent they had that year, as Pietramala said after the game, “I think this group’s got a lot of character.” That character will have to prove its merit come Monday.
|Stephen Peyser||(3, 0)|
|Michael Kimmel||(3, 0)|
|Paul Rabil||(1, 0)|
|Tom Duerr||(1, 0)|
|Jesse Schwartzman||10 (0.769)|