April 4, 2014

Johns Hopkins Cruises by Unusually Sloppy Albany, 13-8

by Gary Lambrecht | LaxMagazine.com | Twitter | Lambrecht Archive

In-Game Blog Replay


Throughout the three-game losing streak it dragged into Friday night's visit from Albany, the Johns Hopkins Blue Jays had made a habit of committing the untimely turnovers that doomed their chances to win.

But after the 10th-ranked Blue Jays broke out to a shocking early lead and held off mistake-prone Albany to take a 13-8 victory before 1,553 at Homewood Field, it was Great Danes coach Scott Marr who was left to shake his head at the sloppiness he had witnessed.

On a night with a national TV audience watching and waiting to see what kind of show the vaunted attack of Lyle, Miles and Ty Thompson would put on for no. 18 Albany, Hopkins (6-3) stole the show with strange ease. That's because the Great Danes (4-5) could not stop tripping over themselves early on whenever the ball was in their grasp.

An aggressive Hopkins defense could take part of the credit, but Albany was largely the architect of its own demise in a nightmarish first half. The Great Danes committed 14 of their season-high 24 turnovers in the opening minutes and turned the ball over on its first 10 possessions.

And the Blue Jays reacted like sharks in pursuit of a meal that had eluded them for nearly a month. They sprinted out to 5-0 lead after one quarter and a 9-1 halftime advantage by out-shooting the Great Danes by an astounding, 27-3 margin.

In the end, attackmen Ryan Brown (three goals, one assist) and Brandon Benn (three goals) would have big nights, while attackman Wells Stanwick and midfielder Holden Cattoni would have monster games. Cattoni followed his first career hat trick last week with a career-high four goals. Stanwick sliced up the Albany defense with a career-best six assists – the first time that has happened at Hopkins since Dan Denihan did it 14 seasons ago.

"[Hopkins] came out really ready to play and kind of overwhelmed us in the first period. I think they got every 50-50 ground ball in that period," said Marr, who watched the Great Danes waste a strong effort from faceoff man Connor Russell. He went 14-for-24 against Hopkins ace Drew Kennedy.

"They played with a little desperation, and we didn't expect that," Marr added. "To turn the ball over eight times in the first period is a staggering statistic. You can't dig yourself a hole like that against a team that good. If you had told me were going to win 14 of 24 faceoffs, I would have told you we were going to win by three or four goals."

To their credit, Albany made a competition out of it in the second half, closing to within 10-5 midway through the half. But the Great Danes could not sustain a run long enough to creep within four.

"We had as good a week of practice as we've had in a long time," Hopkins coach Dave Pietramala said. "We did the things we needed to do to build a lead. We scored goals because we ran the offense, and we valued the ball. [But] I was the guy at halftime who was worried about the run [by Albany].

And the run did come. The Great Danes got somewhat untracked in the third quarter, found some offensive flow, and the Thompsons started finding each other and finding the net.

After the Blue Jays extended their lead to 10-1 on Benn's third goal 29 seconds into the half, the Great Danes finally flickered to life. Midfielders Ryan Feuerstein and Eric Scala took feeds from Lyle Thompson and scored goals 50 seconds apart to trim the Hopkins lead to 10-3. Miles Thompson scored to make it 10-4 with 10:14 left in the third quarter.

Then came a huge opportunity for Albany, as Hopkins drew a pair of slashing fouls to give the Great Danes a 6-on-4 chance with 7:41 left. Albany failed miserably. Goalie Blaze Riorden (12 saves) then stuffed Brown to set up a behind-the-back goal by Ty Thompson to make it 10-5 with 2:00 left.

But that's where Hopkins stiffened by making stops, running patient offense and using its transition game wisely. Cattoni cashed in with Hopkins' third straight EMO goal. Defensive midfielder Phil Castronova and LSM Mike Pellegrino teamed up on a fast-break goal. And suddenly it was a 12-5 Blue Jays lead with 8:48 left to play.

"It helps when you're getting more touches," Stanwick said. "All week, we'd been stressing get the ball and don't waste chances. Take chances, but make sure they're good chances."

The Blue Jays did not shoot the ball particularly well, going 13-for-45, including just 4-for-18 in the second half. But they were efficient enough to take advantage of Albany's carelessness, especially the Thompsons, who finished with a combined four goals and five assists but also left nine turnovers on the field.

"As soon as we got the ball on offense, [Hopkins] got it back," Riorden said. "They were shooting at a lot of lower corners and I wasn't able to get down and get into a rhythm. Goalie is a position where you want to build some confidence. They took it to us early."

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