April 3, 2011

Dolente, Coppersmith Link Up Late to Lift Hopkins over UNC in the Big City Classic

by Chris R. Vaccaro | LaxMagazine.com | Big City Classic Blog Replay

After a breakout game against Virginia, Lee Coppersmith came up clutch Sunday against North Carolina, scoring the game-winning goal in Johns Hopkins 10-9 triumph at the Big City Classic in New Jersey.

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Johns Hopkins men's lacrosse coach Dave Pietramala called senior captain Matt Dolente a preparation and film fiend.

Dolente, who won a career-high 16 faceoffs, took a clean faceoff win and fed the ball to Lee Coppersmith on the final possession of the game for the Blue Jays.

Coppersmith, coming off a breakout game against Virginia and in the game late against North Carolina for his athleticism at midfield, carried the ball down field and beat Tar Heels goalie Steven Rastivo for the game-winning goal in a thrilling 10-9 win at the Konika Minolta Big City Classic at New Meadowlands Stadium Sunday evening.

"Every face off is a possession," Pietramala said. "It's a chance for us to score, but it's time that they don't have the ball."

North Carolina's R.G. Keenan, a freshman, managed to win just five of 17 faceoffs against the seasoned Dolente.

Hopkins (7-2), ranked No. 5 in the USILA Division I poll, changed its defensive approach in the final five minutes, putting a short stick defender on Marcus Holman, who scored two goals for North Carolina, and a long stick on Jimmy Dunster, who registered a goal and an assist in the game.

Dunster had one last desperation shot with 20 seconds left in the ball game. Pierce Bassett corraled it with ease.

"They never really got a quality shot off," Pietramala said.

Hopkins jumped out to a 4-0 lead before North Carolina's Billy Bitter, who finished with four goals, lit up the Blue Jays with three straight unanswered goals in the first quarter, putting the Tar Heels behind by one at 4-3.

They chipped away in the second and exchanged tallies, but Hopkins scored three goals in the final two minutes of the first half with marks by John Ranagan, Zach Palmer and Chris Boland.

Hopkins, leading 8-5 at the half, had various players dealing with illness in the locker room prior to the second half.

Pietramala said Orry Michael, Ranagan and Marshall Burkhart were sick. Bassett also had a limited practice schedule during the week for the same reason.

Thomas Wood, Bitter and Duncan Hutchins scored three straight for No. 4 North Carolina (7-3) in the fourth quarter, giving the Tar Heels hope down the stretch.

Hutchins tied the game at 9 off a pass from Nicky Galasso with 2:41 left in the game. Galasso, a freshman who leads the team with 37 points, was held to just one assist.

North Carolina, which is scheduled to play No. 6 Virginia next Saturday on the road, has fallen behind early in each of its last three games away from Chapel Hill.

"There are so many things that we have to get better at, but I think this team has tremendous potential," Tar Heels head coach Joe Breschi said. "We can't do that. You're battling up hill and spending a lot of energy trying to get there. We need to get back to fundamentals and have a good hard week of practice."

Johns Hopkins, which was led by Ranagan's three goals and assist, hosts Albany next Friday. Kyle Wharton also scored three goals for the Blue Jays.

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