Hopkins took the five minute trip down Charles Street to meet Towson on the Tigers' home turf; Hopkins now gets to take the fifteen minute trip to the Final Four. The Blue Jays were solid in every key aspect of the game; clears, team defense, goaltending, and team offense. And they consistently gave the Tiger defense fits not because they overpowered them physically (Doneger and Harrison were the only ones that could bull or blow by someone) but because Hopkins methodically found the right matchups every time, saw every space on the field, and were quick to dump when a slide came. For their part, Towson tried too hard to go one against the world while on offense and committed a painfully high amount of turnovers on clears and throwaways.
The action started right off the bat. Towson grabbed the first face, but (in a recurring pattern) Tiger longstick Neil Adams just tossed the ball high to the sidelines as he was bringing it over midfield. Kyle Harrison settled off to Reed Sothoron's left, lulled for a moment, then bolted along GLE in an attempt to get underneath -- he did, but got nabbed when he cocked his stick to the inside just as he was coming up on the pipe.
Hopkins would get on the board shortly afterwards. After furiously trying to get the ball to Doneger, who was being shadowed by a shorti (even to the endline), Kevin Boland took control at the top of the box and darted to his left, drawing a slide from the wing to that side. He button-hooked back to the center and pumped it to Greg Peyser, who was filling in the now soft middle. Peyser stepped into it and nailed a big righty blast to make it 1-0.
Next time down, Kyle Barrie burned around the right pipe from behind but ended up nailing that same pipe. Towson would then botch the first of many GB's that should have come up yellow, so Hopkins got one more whirl at it. Baxter, Sothoron, and company held strong but muffed the clear attempt. The Tigers got a bit of break on the next series when, on a Hopkins clear attempt, Adam Doneger had his pass across the middle picked near midfield. It came down the Jays' throat in a standard 4-3 set, and pointman Ryan Obloj found Hunter Lochte right in front of the crease all alone for a lay-up. Lochte had cut underneath from the opposite corner once all the Blue Jays had turned their heads upfield.
Some perimeter play followed for both teams, usually punctuated by a low-percentage outside rip. Hopkins was attacking from all angles, and usually getting everyone a touch with each offensive series. But Towson chose to attack with a 2-2-2 that had no one on the crease for the most part, and almost always challenged with middie iso's and skip passes across the top -- something Hopkins was well prepared for (for most of the game, Hopkins used their two shorti defenders to cover the pipes).
Hopkins then decided that it would be Kyle Harrison to break down the Towson defense. Four times in a row Harrison would set up shop at the top left of the box, with Doneger away to his right, LeSueuer and Barrie behind, and Benson and Peyser on the far pipe. Harrison turned stutter-step bursts on Joe Smith into enough room to unleash 2 rips on the run (he would narrowly miss both). His third attempt ended with a thread across the top to Doneger -- Doneger's blast just missed the top corner. Harrison went one more time, and drew a little more attention from the Towson longsticks waiting to slide from the crease. LeSueuer spotted the opening and snuck around Sothoron's left side to grab the high-to-low feed from Harrison and stick the lay-up. 2-1 Hopkins.
Hopkins would weather a BS penalty (longstick Corey Harned flew in from the box on a ride and wiped out a Tiger middie) and the subsequent Towson EMO. The Towson EMO moved from a 1-4-1 to a 2-3-1, but never managed to produce anything other than rips from the corners that Scherr got good looks at.
Hopkins ended the EMO by picking a pass across the crease and quickly bumped their lead to 3-1 when Doneger faced Joe Smith at the top of the box, power cradled lefty on a drive to the left, and burned a knee-high lefty rip on the run to the outside pipe.
The first quarter was nearing an end when Towson changed their offensive sets (but not really their methods). They popped two guys onto the crease to try and create more room for their middie dodgers up top, but Hopkins was now sliding early from the crease instead of helping from the wings. Towson was still only challenging up top on iso's (and making passes across the top for another iso when the first didn't work). The Tigers caught a bit of luck on Hunter Lochte's next drive though; he tried to drive thru three longsticks down the right side, but as he got stripped Todd Spear was hanging on the crease. Spear grabbed the garbage and beat Scherr with a change-up bouncer.
The 1st ended soon after with Hopkins in control on the field, but clinging to a 3-2 lead in the scorebook.
More story coming later today...
Towson vs. Johns Hopkins