Baltimore, MD - The 5th ranked Virginia Cavaliers used a four goal first quarter to hold off a late push by the 3rd ranked Johns Hopkins Blue Jays. The Cavaliers were paced by the country's leading scorer, junior attackman Ben Rubeor, who had three goals and an assist on the day. Sophomore Danny Glading had two goals, while defensive middie Will Barrow had a goal on what Associate Head Coach, Marc Van Arsdale, was overheard saying was "his [Barrow's] best game in a Virginia uniform." Hopkins got two goals from Paul Rabil and 14 saves from Jesse Schwartzman.
Hopkins struck first on a Jake Byrne goal with 11:14 to play in the first quarter. Virginia took over shortly after and dominated the possession and the scoreboard for the remainder of the quarter, ultimately setting the tone for the game. Over a six minute period, Virginia put up four goals, Danny Glading and Ben Rubeor each putting in a pair apiece.
Paul Rabil gave Hopkins some life with 5:30 left in the half by cutting the lead to 4-2. That was when Hopkins head coach Dave Pietramala felt the turning point of the game happened. With about 1:30 in the half, Kip Turner came up with a nice save of a Stephen Peyser shot. Virginia quickly got the ball up-field, where Ben Rubeor pushed the transition and found defensive middie Will Barrow cutting to the goal. Barrow finished the sequence and gave Virginia a 5-2 lead to head into the half.
“Quite honestly, I think a huge turning point in the game is its 4-2. We come down and we have a nice offensive possession. We get a shot from Stephen, and hey, Kip Turner’s a terrific goalie, take nothing away from him, he’s a very good goalie. He makes the save, they go down in transition and they get their one transition goal for the day,” said Pietramala. “And that’s a pretty good job by us only giving them one. They go down and instead of being 4-3 right before half, it’s 5-2. I think that hurt us a little bit coming out of halftime.”
As for Virginia’s Barrow, who was all over the field today, head coach Dom Starsia was quick to note his importance.
“Will Barrow may have been our MVP today. He’s just gotten healthy again and just back to our team. It was JJ Morrissey before Will Barrow and those kinds of guys and the way that we like to play, it’s so important. What most fans tend to overlook is what we’re asking them to do on the defensive end to start with, which is to cover a Peyser or a Kimmel or somebody like that. Then almost every time that we’re going up the field, we’re looking to find Will Barrow and get him the ball and have him clear the ball. And hope that that’s an automatic. Then again if we have things the way we like, we also ask those guys to finish a play and play some offense,” said Starsia.
He added, “The goalies have a disproportionate influence on what’s going on. When you make a save like that, it just lifts the entire team. Then to be able to finish it at the other end with a goal in a game in which we’re struggling to score, just gives us a burst of energy right there that kind of carried us for a long period of time. It felt like it was always going to be a struggle to score, but I also felt like we could defend them. So when we were able to score in transition like that, it was just a little bit of a bonus for us and certainly lifted the entire group.”
The third quarter pace was again dictated by Virginia, but their goals weren’t ordinary. Brian Carroll possessed the ball on offense with just under 5:00 remaining in the quarter. The Hopkins defense forced the ball to the ground, but Garrett Billings came up with the looseball out of the scrum for it. He flicked an underhand pass to Carroll who put the goal in. Later with time winding down, Hopkins again got the ball on the ground. This time Jesse Schwartzman came up with a groundball. Virginia stripped Schwartzman on the ride and Ben Rubeor put in an empty-netter off another Billings feed.
“You look at this game and I’m going to look back it and you’re gonna go ‘whew’ they were just critical moments. And I thought Virginia did a good job of capitalizing on the critical moments. For instance, you miss a shot, they come down, they get a goal, that’s a critical moment [Barrow’s fast-break goal]. A face-off, after maybe we get a goal, they came up with the looseball, that’s a critical moment. I thought they did a very good job there [Virginia was 10-of-16 facing off on the day]. As I look at it, I say, did we do a poor job defensively? Well, I don’t think we did a great job, part of that’s us, but you’d be remiss if you don’t give an offense like Virginia credit, they’ve got some pretty talented people. I thought we limited Glading’s looks. I don’t think he had a lot of looks. Brendan Skakandi and the poles, did a good job on Drew Thompson. We did a nice job on Garrett Billings. I know he had a couple of assists, but we did a nice job,” said Pietramala.
“When you look at the way they scored their goals, I think that’s maybe the hardest part. Two empty-netters, one on extra-man, that’s three goals that are critical moments. You know what, you have to give them credit, they made the plays when they had to. We came up with the looseball twice and they popped the ball out of our goalie’s stick, they popped the ball out of Matt Bocklet’s stick, and boom-boom, its two empty-net goals. Well, you know what, we played pretty good defense to get the ball on the ground, but give them some credit for riding it right back and taking the ball and putting it in the goal.”
Hopkins put the pressure on in the fourth quarter and looked like a completely different offensive team from earlier in the game. Midfielder Michael Kimmel drove down the left side and put a jump shot just past Kip Turner’s helmet with 14:02 to play in the game. It’s hard to blame the defense on the play, as they forced Kimmel down the alley, but he made a nice individual play with seemingly no angle to slip one past Turner. With 8:07 to go, Paul Rabil got on the board again. He drove down the side to his right, pulled the stick back to his left and put a great shot past Turner on another great individual effort. With time winding down, Stephen Peyser got into the action. Off a nice defensive stop and clear. The Hopkins coaches made a great timeout call just before a middie let go a shot that Turner ate up. Peyser came straight out of the timeout down the left wing and put a lefty shot in, bringing the game to 7-5 with just 1:19 to play.
Overall, the biggest statistical discrepancy was that Hopkins only managed to get 12 shots on goal. Kip Turner made seven quality saves for the Cavaliers, but wasn’t pressured to do more by the Hopkins offense.
“The single key was that we were able to control a bunch of the individual match-ups. They’re a team that really depends on you sliding to them. They have such good sticks and they’re such good shooters that if you give them a little bit of room and time you’re done. The fact that we didn’t have to slide to Ken Clausen and we didn’t have to slide to Matt Kelly, we knew were going to have to help Mike Timms a little bit, but we were able to control a lot of the match-ups. I think that was probably the single key thing defensively for us overall. I was prepared to play a little zone if we had to. I was very concerned about whether or not we were going to be able to cover them. I thought for most of the game we did a pretty good job there,” said Starsia.
“If you’re going to beat Johns Hopkins, you have to have great goalie play, because they’re such great shooters. I have felt over the past few years, Kip hasn’t gotten quite enough credit for how good he’s been for us. The way that we want to play defense, if we’re going to stretch out and pressure on the perimeter a little bit, we’re going to give up some shots and we just gotta have some saves. His ability to do that is a key to any success that we’re going to have.”
At times, Hopkins lacked precision and fluidity on offense that they’ve displayed earlier in the season.
“To be honest with you, our stickwork at times was poor. I looked at Coach Benson and was like ‘what are we doing?’ We usually catch and throw pretty well. We had to catch and throw well. We threw the ball away unnecessarily a few times. They do a good job of chasing you a little bit and trail checking you a little bit and those are some things we don’t see on a daily basis. And quite honestly, it’s something that I don’t think a lot of teams can emulate because of their athleticism defensively. But once we settled down, we attacked the goal and then we attacked off-ball movement, we got some quality opportunities. I give our kids credit for climbing back in the game against a very good team. I thought we dodged harder in the 2nd and 4th quarter,” said Pietramala.
“You want the answer, we played today like we practiced this week. Monday we were great in practice, Tuesday we were awful. Wednesday we were great in practice, Thursday we weren’t that good. Friday was a typical Friday, hard not to be good on a Friday. We practiced half a week, well we played half a game. I think you play like you practice, but again, I don’t want to take any credit away from Virginia. They’re a well-coached team and they’ve got some pretty talented kids. And hopefully if we both do our jobs, we’ll be able to see each other later on.”
He added, “If you told me we hold Virginia to 7 goals, I tell you I think we win.”
As Pietramala pointed out, Virginia got a lot of their goals in non-traditional ways today.
“They play very good team defense. We were lucky enough to get out to an early lead, but you know they’re going to adjust, you know they’re going to come up with a scheme to try to counter what you’re doing. What we try to do once we get that lead is to work for the quality shot, the really good opportunity. I thought we had them, I thought Schwartzman made some very good saves, especially on some in-tight shots, where I think we could have maybe gone on a little run, but weren’t able to. Any time you play a good team with a good goalie, that’s gonna happen,” said Ben Rubeor.
When asked to compare this season’s offense that seems to win by a couple with the offense of last year that obliterated opponents, Rubeor said, “I think that’s how it’s gone so far this season, but by no means do I think that has to continue. I’ve had this feeling that we’re kind of on the verge of really beginning to click, both offensively and defensively. I don’t think we’ve put it all together yet. I think we have a lot of room for growth. But it’s good that we’ve learned to win these tough-fought games, because I think that’s what you run into at the end of the season.”
Neither team has much time to rest. Virginia is heading into the meat of their schedule with ACC play starting next Saturday at home against Maryland. Hopkins continues their treacherous schedule with a trip to Chapel Hill next Saturday to take on UNC, who has lost two in a row and is looking to salvage a season that started out with a lot of promise.
|Stephen Peyser||(1, 1)|
|Paul Rabil||(2, 0)|
|Steven Boyle||(0, 1)|
|Michael Kimmel||(1, 0)|
|Jake Byrne||(1, 0)|
|Jesse Schwartzman||14 (0.667)|