BALTIMORE, MD - It's safe to say that Johns Hopkins senior Brian Christopher (Springfield, PA/Springfield) enjoys overtime. For the third time in four games and the fourth time in his career, Christopher found the back of the net in overtime - this time just 36 seconds into the first extra session to lift the Blue Jays to a 12-11 victory over Brown in the first round of the NCAA Men's Lacrosse Tournament at Homewood Field Saturday afternoon. The win is the seventh straight for the Blue Jays (10-4), who move into the quarterfinals for the 19th straight year with the victory. Brown, which forced overtime with a goal with just eight seconds left in regulation, ends the season at 12-4.
The Blue Jays led 11-10 with less than 30 seconds to play and came up with a loose ball on the crease in front of goalie Michael Gvozden (Millersville, MD/Severna Park), but an errant pass to midfield was scooped up by the Bears and they got it back to Kyle Hollingsworth (Darien, CT/Darien) behind the goal. Hollingsworth dodged from behind the goal, only to be stripped of the ball coming around the side. With the ball loose in front, he managed to shovel the rolling ball through traffic into the corner of the net to force the extra session.
In overtime, sophomore Matt Dolente (Phoenixville, PA/Malvern Prep) won the opening faceoff and the Blue Jays quickly called timout. Out of the timeout, Hopkins circled the ball once before working it to Christopher at the top of the box. He dodged to his right, got a step on his defender and blew a shot into the top corner before a late slide could help. A week ago it was Loyola he beat in the second overtime; 10 days before that he lifted the Blue Jays past Towson with 1.2 seconds remaining in the second extra session.
"The last three weeks have been pretty exciting," Christopher noted in the post-game press conference. "I thought I had a good opportunity to get to the goal and once I got some space I was able to get off a good shot," he added of his game-winner.
Johns Hopkins had jumped out to a 3-0 lead less than nine minutes into the first quarter as junior Chris Boland (Columbia, MD/Boys' Latin) sandwiched the first two of his five goals around a tally by classmate Steven Boyle (Derry, NH/Pinkerton Academy). Despite the quick start, the Blue Jays found themselves in a 3-3 tie less than 90 seconds into the second quarter as Thomas Muldoon (Oakton, VA/St. Alban's) and Brady Williams (Columbus, OH/Upper Arlington) struck before the end of the first quarter and Rob Schlesinger (Medfield, MA/Noble and Greenough) scored in a scramble situation with 13:35 remaining in the second quarter.
Three times before the end of the third quarter the Blue Jays built two-goal leads, only to have the resilient Bears battle back to force a 7-7 tie at the end of the third.
The Blue Jays moved the 3-3 tie to a 6-4 advantage at the half as Boyle, Boland and Kyle Wharton (Great Valley, PA/Haverford School) all scored in a six-minute span midway through the period with only an Andrew Feinberg (Owings Mills, MD/McDonogh) goal mixed in for the Bears during that time. Neither team scored in the final 7:56 of the second quarter.
Brown got three of the four goals in the third quarter to account for the 7-7 tie at the end of the third. A Nic Bell (Catlett, VA/Highland) goal less than one minute into the third was answered 59 seconds later by Christopher's first of the game, but Muldoon and Collins Carey (Clarksville, MD/McDonogh) fired home the only goals in the final 13 minutes of the quarter as the Blue Jays were held scoreless for the final 13:12 after Christopher's goal.
Johns Hopkins appeared to take control with three goals in the first 4:30 of the fourth quarter to turn the 7-7 tie into a 10-7 lead. Boland sandwiched his fourth and fifth goals of the game around Wharton's second of the day to give the Blue Jays their first three-goal lead since it was 3-0 late in the first quarter.
Feinberg drew the Bears to within 10-8 when he blew a shot home from a tough angle after he was left unchecked, but Boland found Christopher alone 10 yards from the goal and Christopher had time and room to blow home his second of the day to push the lead back to three.
Muldoon made it a one-goal game with back-to-back unassisted goals in a span of just under four minutes down the stretch. He spun through traffic and scored from in tight with 6:23 remaining and then dropped down to beat Gvozden with 2:46 remaining to make it a one-goal game.
Both teams had possession inside the two-minute mark, only to turn the ball over. The Blue Jays had a chance to win in regulation when they came up with the loose ball on the crease in the final 30 seconds, but the Bears retrieved a loose ball near midfield and worked the ball to Hollingsworth, whose game-tying goal forced the extra session and set the stage for Christopher's overtime heroics.
"You need to tip your hat to Brown for the way coach Tiffany prepared his team and how hard they played," Johns Hopkins head coach Dave Pietramala noted. "They are very slick offensively and took advantage of some loose-ball situations when we had a lead. I'm disappointed in the play of our defense, but you need to give credit to Brown for some of that as well."
Boland led the Blue Jays with five goals and two assists. His goal and point totals are were both one shy of his career high. Boyle and Wharton both added two goals and two assists as the starting attack unit combined for nine goals and six assists for the Blue Jays. Christopher added three goals for Hopkins, which 10 of its 12 goals assisted on the day. Gvozden posted 11 saves in goal, including two big stops in the fourth quarter.
Muldoon paced the Bears with four goals, while Feinberg scored twice for Brown, which got 10 saves from senior Jordan Burke and held a 42-36 advantage in shots on the day.
Johns Hopkins, which improved to 16-6 under head coach Dave Pietramala in overtime games, will play the winner of Sunday's Viriginia-Villanova game in next week's NCAA Quarterfinal. The Johns Hopkins-Virginia/Villanova game will take place at Navy. The other game at Navy that day will feature North Carolina vs. the Navy/Duke winner.
Johns Hopkins vs. Brown