Baltimore, MD – The Syracuse Orange only led once against the Johns Hopkins Blue Jays, but made sure that it was when it counted…the final whistle. Syracuse was led by senior Mike Leveille who scored three goals and assisted on three others, while Steve Brooks ripped four goals. Hopkins had a four goal and one assist effort from senior Kevin Huntley, as well as a one goal and three assist day from Michael Kimmel.
Both teams entered this game from the opposite spectrum. Syracuse came in following the high of beating Georgetown in double overtime. Hopkins was perhaps still slightly stunned from their overtime loss to Hofstra. From the start both teams came to play.
Hopkins got the lead, one which they wouldn’t relinquish until overtime, in the first minute of play on a Steven Boyle goal. From there the teams traded goals to finish the first quarter. The second quarter was a quarter of runs. Hopkins exploded for four, to be answered by three straight Syracuse goals to send the game into the half 6-5 Hopkins.
In the early going of the third, it seemed like Hopkins was going to pull away, but Syracuse kept fighting and staying close enough to give themselves a chance at the end. Down 13-10 with eight minutes left in the game, the Orange notched the last three goals to tie the game with 2:10 left to play. They managed to get another opportunity before regulation ended, but had to settle for overtime. Danny Brennan won the faceoff to start the extra period for Syracuse. :37 in, Steven Brooks found a little bit of room up-top to blast a bounce shot in for the Syracuse win.
”It’s awful tough when statistically, you’ve picked up more groundballs, you’ve done a good job on the extra-man, you’ve gotten saves,” said Blue Jays’ head coach Dave Pietremala.
“But I think we’re at a very simple place right now, we’ve lost two one goals in overtime because our team right now isn’t about the little things. I’ve always said that when we won one goal games, I’ve always said I believe it’s because of us doing the little details, us paying attention to the small things. I think if we’re losing one goal games and we’re giving up leads, then the same has to hold true. We’re either doing them well or we’re not. Right now we’re not doing the little things well.”
The Blue Jays did hold the advantage in shots, groundballs and were a perfect 2-for-2 on man-up opportunities. They did also get some solid goaltending from Michael Gvozden who came up with eleven saves, including four in the fourth period in an effort to slow down the Syracuse comeback. Ultimately, a few stats really separated the game. Hopkins had a lot of trouble with Syracuse’s Danny Brennan at the faceoff circle. Brennan won 18-of-27 attempts. Specifically in the fourth quarter when Syracuse needed the ball the most they won 7-of-8. Neither Hopkins senior Stephen Peyser of freshman Matt Dolente were able to have sustained success against Brennan. This would prove very important as Syracuse continually got possession and the chance to climb back in the game.
“Congratulations to Syracuse. I think John Desko has done a hell of a job turning this team around. They’re a motivated team,” said Pietremala.
”But I thought they faced a motivated team today, I thought we played extremely hard. I thought it was two teams that went back and forth. I thought the decisions we made were awful at times. Again those are little things. That all falls on the head coach’s shoulders. The head coach is responsible for making sure his team does the little things and right now I haven’t done a good enough job making sure my team does it. If there’s anywhere to look, you can look right here and I can assure that starting Monday we’ll be about the little things.
At times the decision making of Hopkins was suspect. After a lengthy Syracuse possession, first-team All-American Paul Rabil carried the ball into the offensive side and drove straight down the wing. With little angle, the senior put a high-to-high shot on cage which Syracuse freshman John Galloway easily saved and turned into a fastbreak the other way, which Syracuse eventually converted on. At one point in the first quarter, the Hopkins defense did a nice job stopping an Orange possession and forcing a turnover. Defenseman Eric Zerrlaut came up with the groundball back by the end-line and quickly had two Syracuse players on him. Trying to make a play, he tried to flip it back towards the goal. Instead Syracuse picked it up at X and quickly converted it into a goal. Gvozden forced a long outlet pass or two that led to turnovers. There were a few errant passes and drops on offense that left the impression that Pietremala’s words do ring true. They do need to get better about the little things.
“We have to understand that we can’t throw the ball back in-bounds. It’s no one play, it’s no one guy. It’s everywhere,” said Pietremala.
”It’s coming down and instead of going to the goal, it’s getting set up and getting organized in an offense, it’s understanding the strengths of a player. It’s making a good decision clearing the ball and when the ball comes from one side, going to the other side instead of going back into the pressure. Again Syracuse deserves a lot of credit, but we sure shot ourselves in the foot a bunch of times. Again, I want to make sure I don’t take any credit away from John Desko, his staff and his kids, they played a great game.”
For Syracuse, these are the types of wins that will help put the swagger back into their steps. Something that many claim has been missing. They head back to the Dome for a game against Binghamton this week. Hopkins, on the other hand, has one of their toughest tasks of the season, as they prepare to head down south to take on Virginia next weekend. That game is followed by UNC and then Duke over the following two weeks. This situation isn’t all that much different from where they found themselves a year ago. After a few losses, Hopkins went on to a dominant run and the 2007 National Championship.
|Kevin Huntley||(4, 1)|
|Michael Kimmel||(1, 3)|
|Steven Boyle||(1, 1)|
|Paul Rabil||(1, 1)|
|Stephen Peyser||(2, 0)|
|Brian Christopher||(1, 1)|
|Kyle Wharton||(1, 0)|
|Austin Walker||(1, 0)|
|George Castle||(1, 0)|
|Michael Gvozden||11 (0.440)|