April 14, 2012

Terps Stun Shell-Shocked Hopkins in Second Half

by Gary Lambrecht | LaxMagazine.com

Owen Blye (four goals) helped Maryland outscore rival Johns Hopkins 6-0 over the final 29 minutes Saturday at Homewood Field.
© John Strohsacker/LaxPhotos.com

BALTIMORE – The Maryland Terrapins had been running uphill seemingly all night at Homewood Field, where No. 3 Johns Hopkins kept opening up what appeared to be a fairly comfortable lead in front of a sellout crowd of 8,500.

But then, the greatest rivalry in college lacrosse took an unexpected turn in its 108th edition, and a while later, the ninth-ranked Terps were basking in the glow of a grinding comeback and an exhilarating, 9-6 victory.

What a wild night it was for Maryland. The Terps got four, second-half goals from junior attackman Owen Blye and held the Blue Jays to a season-low six goals in stunning fashion by shutting out Hopkins for the game's final 29 minutes and 17 seconds.

With its hard, early-sliding approach on defense that limited the dodging effectiveness of Hopkins' midfielders, Maryland also shut out junior attackman Zach Palmer (34 points coming in) and limited the Blue Jays' attack to two goals – one each from Chris Boland and Brandon Benn.

In the history books, the Terps beat the Blue Jays for only the fourth time in their last 14 tries and won at Homewood for only the second time since 1996 – five seasons before current Hopkins coach Dave Pietramala began his run at his alma mater.

With Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh and New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick looking on from the Hopkins sideline, Maryland (7-3) was in a funk early. The Terps got stuffed three times in the first quarter on high-percentage shots by goalie Pierce Bassett. They played long stretches of defense throughout the first half, got out-shot in the second quarter by a 14-2 count, and felt fortunate just be trailing at halftime, 5-3.

Then, 43 seconds into the second half, Boland got loose on the left side of the Maryland cage after a great feed by midfielder John Greeley, and glided in for an easy score on the crease to give the Blue Jays a 6-3 lead – their second three-goal cushion of the evening. At that point, Maryland had never led in the contest.

"In the second quarter, we barely had the ball," Blye said. "We always try to preach don't get too high or too low. At 6-3, if you take a step back, it's lacrosse. You can get three goals in a minute. We felt no one guy had to put this game on his shoulders. If every guy took care of one or two things, good things were going to happen."

On a night when Terps senior attackman Joe Cummings, the team's leading scorer, was held to one assist thanks to blanket defense by Tucker Durkin, oh, how things changed for Maryland. Over the final 29 minutes, the Terps gained the upper hand and lowered a fist on Hopkins with a 6-0, game-ending run.

Blye started picking on freshman defenseman Robert Enright, who made his second start. First, Blye slipped behind Enright, took a well-timed feed from midfielder Mike Chanenchuk, faked Hopkins goalie Pierce Bassett (five saves) twice, then scored to cut the lead to 6-4 with 9:04 left in the third quarter. Three minutes later, Blye beat Enright from behind the goal, and scored as Enright tipped over the cage.

Feeling energized, the Terps evened the score with 17 seconds left, when midfielder Michael Shakespeare beat Bassett with a 10-yard laser to tie the score at six. Blye then burned Enright again with 8:46 left in the fourth quarter with over-the-top, eight-yard leaner to give Maryland its first lead at 7-6. That knocked Enright out of the game.

At that point, the Blue Jays had become a disorganized, turnover-prone team in scramble mode on offense and defense, and Maryland flew around Homewood and moved in for the kill.

"I thought we played like the younger team in the second half," Pietramala said. "I thought we stopped sliding and got a little selfish defensively. I thought offensively, we got a little cute and hung onto the ball too long. I don't think we got tired. I think we got tight. You play to win, not to hang on. We let one get away."

Maryland then took the life out of Hopkins, which panicked in the fourth quarter. Blye completed his scoring with an eight-yard fadeaway to make it 8-6 with 5:05 left. Then, following a turnover by midfielder John Ranagan (one goal), Maryland midfielder Kevin Cooper (two goals, one assist) finished a fast break to polish the victory with 2:31 left.

It was only the third time in the Pietramala era that Hopkins has blown a three-goal lead at home.

"My job is to get us wins, but this one was all about our players," Maryland coach John Tillman said. "We push them hard. They think we're crazy for some of the things we do. I'm supposed to work hard, but it's a joy to do it with guys like this."

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