By the time Memorial Day weekend comes along, who the number one team was in week 2, 3, or 4 isn’t going to really seem important, but for now it just seems like bad luck. The crowd was swarming all over Klockner Stadium, the sun was shining, and number one Johns Hopkins prepared to defend their newfound position. The Virginia Cavaliers would have their own ideas concerning this matter, and they came out playing like a team ready to take advantage of the weather.
Virginia set the tone of the game early with a stingy defense and an aggressive offense, and they did not look back. The first two goals were theirs coming first from John Christmas off of a Conner Gill feed, and next from the middies as Chris Rotelli connected with A.J. Shannon as he rifled one in past Hopkins keeper Nick Murtha at about 6 minutes into the game. The Blue Jay’s kept it close early with a Peter LeSueur unassisted goal, but they’d find the lead too elusive to capture today. UVA’s Rotelli struck next this time with a goal off a Billy Glading assist. The UVA offense which must have gotten used to passing through downpours were now whipping the ball around with ease, and it certainly seemed that Hopkins was having trouble containing them. Virginia attackman Joe Yevoli had one and middie Nick Russo put two together -all unassisted- before halftime. While Tillman Johnson was certainly helping his offense create some productive fast breaks with some great clears off his saves, as one of Russo’s goals reflected, he also mistakenly helped the JHU cause late in the 2nd quarter. Just minutes after Lesuer netted another unassisted goal for JHU, Hopkins’ Kyle Barrie snagged a careless Johnson clear and made it look easy as he fired one in an empty net from at least 20 yards out. Hopkins wasn’t done quite yet as Tim Muir found fellow middie Adam Doneger slicing through the crease traffic for their team’s 5 goal of the day. The 2nd ended with Virginia up 6-5 and it seemed likely that this one could very possibly go down to the wire.
A close finish seemed even more likely as Hopkins tied it up at 11:34 when Bobby Benson took a Doneger feed and capitalized. No one new it then, how could they have, but this was all Hopkins had to offer the scoreboard. Not to say they didn’t continue to play hard, but between Virginia’s Mark Koontz, T. Johnson, and the rest of the Cav defense, the Blue Jay’s offensive threat ceased to be. Virginia’s offense took a different route as they broke the stalemate at 9:11 when Christmas gave Yevoli a pass which he finish hard. The Cavaliers merely added to that cushion the rest of the afternoon. At 6:30 left in the third Christmas assisted again when he found Brenndan Mohler up top for the score, and the crowd of 4,325 just kept getting louder. Hopkins wasn’t going down without a fight, and some hard stick checks were flying from both teams. At one point directly after Virginia’s 8th goal, the shower of checks and hits were coming so fast that no one could hold on to the ball for about a half a minute until finally Virginia’s Head Coach Dom Starsia wisely called a timeout when he got the chance. The home crowd responded to every check and every hit, and it would be foolish to say that a roaring crowd like this one didn’t play a part in Virginia’s fine play. Their Cavs certainly gave them plenty to cheer about and in the 3rd quarter they would add two more goals to give them a 10-6 lead. Christmas had another tight assist as he found a surrounded Glading inside with just under 4 to go. The Virginia defense continued to back up their offense and give their keeper a chance as they owned the groundballs on their end and swarmed all over the shooter when Johnson was about to get shelled. Christmas chalked up his fourth assist in a row when he found Yevoli yet again with 35 seconds left to play in the third. This high velocity rip erupted the crowd and left no question as to whose corner the momentum was in.
In the fourth it was certainly not a done deal, and when JHU got a man up situation at 11:21, it was a great chance for them to mount a comeback. However, Tillman Johnson again came up with a huge save. Virginia then got the ground ball and it was going the other way with a Virginia break. Gill ripped it high but the Cavs defense more importantly were able to fight off any threat of a comeback. The last two goals of the day were Christmas’s, the first coming at 8:26 left to play off a Russo feed as John Christmas took the feed as he was falling in front of the crease and snuck it past Murtha. Christmas’s final and third goal of the afternoon was a bounce shot at 3:21 left to go with the Hopkins keeper way out of cage. Before this last UVA goal was tallied, they were basically already trying to kill the clock at 6:30 left by inverting their middies and not pressuring the cage at all. Down by six, John Hopkins did what they could to prevent their precious time from slipping away, and they called on senior longpole-middie P.J. DiConza to strip the ball. Although DiConza couldn’t quite get the ball away, he forced A.J. Shannon to give it up to Glading who nearly scored. Eventually Hopkins would get another chance on offense thanks in part to defenseman Corey Harned’s pressure on UVA’s Rotelli, however, their chance to cut the lead was spoiled by more great goalie play by T. Johnson . With their team up by six goals and under 3 minutes to play, one could already hear the Virginia crowd was starting to feel that celebratory mood. With under a minute left, Virginia defenseman Brett Hughes was one of the last to touch the ball as he wheeled it up the field for the clear and to the crowd’s delight.
Virginia will look to add to their four game winning streak as they travel to College Park Saturday, March 30th for a 1pm start against the Terps. Hopkins will attempt to dispel the sour taste left from their first loss of the season as they face off against Albany on Tuesday, March 26 back at home.
|John Christmas||(3, 4)|
|Joe Yevoli||(3, 0)|
|Chris Rotelli||(1, 2)|
|Aj Shannon||(2, 0)|
|Nick Russo||(1, 1)|
|Billy Glading||(1, 1)|
|Brenndan Mohler||(1, 0)|
|Conor Gill||(0, 1)|
|Tillman Johnson||14 (0.700)|