Baltimore, MD - The reigning national champion Johns Hopkins Blue Jays ended a five game losing streak during homecoming against their rival the Maryland Terps, 10-4. The Blue Jays blew open a game that was 3-2 at the half with a six goal spurt in the third quarter. They were led by Paul Rabil's four points (3g, 1a) while Michael Kimmel (3a) and Michael Doneger (3g) contributing three points a piece. Four different players scored for the Terps. Stephen Peyser was a near perfect, 12-of-13, facing off for the Blue Jays.
It would be an understatement to call this homecoming rivalry a must-win for Hopkins, and the Blue Jays play showed that they were treating it as such, because at 3-5 with only five games to play there isn’t too much time for any more mulligans. As was a theme of the day, the time of possession swayed heavily in the direction of Hopkins. Disgruntled Maryland fans could be heard questioning whether they had even had the ball yet. In the first quarter, Hopkins won all three of the faceoffs, 3-of-4 in the second and 15-of-18 on the day. They were also 15-of-18 on the day clearing the ball. Granted Maryland was a perfect 15-of-15, even though it didn’t look like it.
Hopkins got on the board early with a Paul Rabil goal 1:11 into the game. From there they controlled the ball for most of the first quarter. Maryland junior goalie Jason Carter kept the Terps in the game with five saves in the first quarter. Off an end-line deadball to Hopkins with under three minutes left in the quarter, sophomore Steven Boyle dodged hard right off the whistle and found senior Michael Doneger wide open on the crease for the easy goal. On a man-up just before the end of the first, Doneger again was wide open in the middle. Only this time his quick-stick shot was just wide. Hopkins had to settle for a 2-0 advantage heading into the second.
Hopkins again won the face-off and dominated the possession to start the second. This time the Blue Jay offense worked the ball around with precision that hasn’t been seen from them since possibly the Princeton game in early March. Finally Paul Rabil got it up top and zipped it inside to a yet-again wide open Doneger. Doneger finished this one and gave Hopkins a 3-0 lead.
Still unable to generate much offense, Maryland finally got life when sophomore LSM Brian Farrell made a nice play on the defensive side of the field and carried the ball up himself. He went straight to the goal and ripped a righty bounce shot in to get Maryland on the board with 7:15 left in the half. The momentum continued as Maryland finally sustained possession. A Michael Gvozden save sent the ball behind the goal. Maryland senior Max Ritz, back starting at attack with freshman Travis Reed suspended, picked up the ball and banged it to Drew Evans. Evans ripped it past Gvozden and cut the lead to one. That was probably the last point at which this resembled a contest.
While Hopkins had dominated the first half, the lead was only one goal at the break. They wouldn’t waste any time changing that in the second half. Looking for an answer at the faceoff circle after Will Dalton and Bryn Holmes had proven ineffective, Maryland sent out freshman Dan Burns for the second half’s opening faceoff. Hopkins’ senior Peyser quickly capitalized pushing the ball forward and going the distance himself finishing it with a righty high-to-high shot to Carter’s off-stick side. 4-2 and only four seconds had been taken off the clock. Hopkins again controlled the faceoff and started out with another methodical possession. Michael Kimmel dodged down the side and eventually rolled back. He saw Doneger wide open in the middle and with just 1:10 gone Doneger got his third goal of the day.
Hopkins would again win the faceoff and again go into a possession. This time Kimmel drove from right-to-left at X and saw a hole in the defense. He made a nice skip pass to the top of the box and a waiting Austin Walker. Walker ripped it past Carter. On the next faceoff Bryn Holmes actually controlled the faceoff for Maryland by raking it to his side. Unfortunately for the Terps, senior LSM Matt Bocklet was there uncontested to scoop it up for the Blue Jays. A bit of déjà vu that led to another Hopkins possession. The Terp defense managed to come up with a stop and they touched the ball for the first time three and a half minutes into the quarter.
With 8:41 left in the quarter, Jason Carter came up with a big save, one of the five he had in the quarter. Had they been without the Terps would have been in even worse shape. Like the previous goal they found Austin Walker open up-top with a skip pass, only this time he dumped it inside only to have that shot stuffed. Shortly thereafter they found Walker open again for a high-to-high shot to the far pipe and a 7-2 lead with 8:14 to play. Again winning the faceoff, Paul Rabil stretched the lead to six with an off-speed high-to-high righty shot.
Grant Catalino added a man-up goal with 4:36 left in the third to stop the bleeding. Hopkins’ Mark Bryan found himself open like Walker had earlier and ripped a righty shot past Carter at about hip height stick-side in response. While Maryland was trying to mount a comeback in the fourth, Michael Gvozden came up with five saves in the quarter.
The story of the day was Hopkins’ possession time dominance. This came largely due to dominance facing off, but also controlled, sustained possessions. The Blue Jays seemed to have more purpose offensively today than some of their more recent games. In recent games it seemed at times like they were content to let the offense develop on the swim-dodge-to-a-shot by senior middies Paul Rabil or Stephen Peyser. Defenses appeared to have caught on to that recently and have worked to stop it. Today, the Blue Jays moved the ball with purpose and seemed to look to get more feeds generated from the attack. This seemed to take the pressure off the midfielders to create. It simplified their job into finishing or acting like a pivot by moving the ball quickly either to attack the backside or whoever was wide open inside. The emergence of Michael Doneger as a threat inside also helps. Whether it was the skill of Doneger in getting open, or Maryland being too focused on Hopkins’ other threats, particularly Peyser and Rabil, is hard to say. But it seemed like Doneger was wide open all day.
Hopkins can’t afford to be satisfied with today’s performance because their predicament hasn’t change much. They can’t lose more than one more game in order to qualify for the NCAA tournament. With a trip to Navy next Saturday, who they’ve beaten by one goal four years in a row, the Midshipmen will be fired up after their loss to Army today. From there Hopkins still has to take on Towson and Loyola with Mount St. Mary’s in between. But the crispness that they displayed today on offense should give them the swagger back after three straight overtime losses turned into five straight losses. And the defense has to feel pretty good about holding the Terps to four goals when they had been averaging close to 11 a game.
For Maryland, they have two regular season games left against Ivy League opponents Yale and Penn along with the ACC tournament. They can’t be happy with their play at the faceoff circle and they’ll have to figure out how to generate some offense as they continue to experiment with attack units with Travis Reed out. They rotated Ritz, Ryan Young, Grant Catalino and Brett Weiss in today while often inverting Drew Evans. Ritz appeared to be more comfortable in his new old role dodging from below the GLE.
|Paul Rabil||(3, 1)|
|Michael Kimmel||(0, 3)|
|Michael Doneger||(3, 0)|
|Austin Walker||(2, 0)|
|Mark Bryan||(1, 1)|
|Steven Boyle||(0, 1)|
|Stephen Peyser||(1, 0)|
|Michael Gvozden||13 (0.765)|