Blogs and Commentary

posted 03.23.11 at 7.10 p.m. by Clare Lochary

Blue Jays Upset No. 4 Penn, 8-5

Full Game Report

On a last-second whim, I stepped across the street from LM's offices to catch today's game at Homewood Field, featuring unranked Johns Hopkins versus No. 4 Penn. Best whim ever.

I caught what is easily the biggest upset of the season so far, with the Blue Jays defeating the Quakers, 8-5. Most of you were probably at home watching on ESPNU, but I'm glad I got to see it in person, despite the rainy conditions. It was the highest-ranked opponent JHU (5-3) has beaten since an 8-7 win over third-ranked Princeton back in 2006.

With the loss, Penn drops to 6-1, meaning there are only six undefeated teams left in DI women's lacrosse (Maryland, Northwestern, Loyola, Stanford, Albany and Louisville). Hopkins midfielder Colleen McCaffrey led all scorers with four goals, the last of which was the 100th of her career.

"It was huge," McCaffrey said of the win. "We had a gut check this week. At the half we knew we were going to have it and we came out confident."

Hopkins executed a great game plan against Penn -- run out fast early versus the extremely deliberate (some would say slow) Quaker offense, and then starve them for possession once the lead is in hand. Head coach Janine Tucker gave her defense the green light to be aggressive and go for turnovers, and it paid off.

"We wanted them to go for close doubles without fouling," Tucker said.

It was a chippy day for the Quakers, who committed 33 fouls to JHU's 17, 21 of them during the second half. Trailing 5-2 at the break and 8-2 after a three-goal Blue Jays run to open the second period, Penn strung together three goals, including back-to-back tallies from Erin Brennan (2g). But they couldn't score for the final 19:26 of the game. That drought, plus a 23:17 gap between their second and third goals, couldn't be overcome. (Neither could the Blue Jays dominance on draws, which they won, 10-5.)

"They're very deliberate on offense, so we wanted to jump early, and not give them any dodges from the top," said goalie Cosette LaRash. "We wanted to help the person on ball to make sure there were limited 1v1s. Our D is top of the line when we're communicating."

LaRash had a modest two saves in the win, but that was really all she needed, with just 11 shots from the Quakers. The sophomore scrawled "HAVE FUN" and "WHY NOT?" on her left and right hands, respectively, before the game, and the Blue Jays were certainly having a blast post-game, stomping and cheering over a huge win that's key for a team that has to compete with Northwestern for the American Lacrosse Conference automatic qualifier come postseason.

JHU lost to Princeton and then-No. 13 Georgetown by one goal each earlier this season. In response to the question of the difference between those close calls and this big win, Tucker responded, "We were sick of knocking on the door. We were so, so ready to turn the corner. I'm a little speechleess. I'm truly proud of my girls. It showed this team we can compete with the big boys."

If you want to parse all the stats yourself, here they are: