Hopkins women looking for upswing after Penn win
The Johns Hopkins women had not beaten a team ranked as high as No. 4 Penn in five years, so their 8-5 victory over the Quakers on Wednesday night rated pretty lofty on coach Janine Tucker’s scale of big wins during the program’s 13 years in Division I.
“It’s way, way up there,” Tucker said. “This is not going to be forgotten.”
In 2006, the Blue Jays upset No. 3 Princeton, 8-7, but in recent years, they have struggled against ranked teams, falling to 20 straight before beating a pair of No. 17s late last season. Penn is their first win over a ranked opponent this spring, having lost one-goal heart-breakers to Princeton and Georgetown.
“Something we talked a lot about over the last year or two is that we’ve been kind of knocking on the door, like we were knocking on the door with Princeton and with Georgetown. We really were looking for that game that was going to help us turn the corner,” Tucker said.
That's pretty important for a team like Hopkins, which has struggled to make a consistent mark in Division I. They made it to the NCAA Tournament three times with just one first-round victory -- in 2007. They haven't been back since.
If the Blue Jays (5-3) can sustain the momentum from such a milestone victory as the one over Penn, it could give them a solid run at a couple of their ranked American Lacrosse Conference rivals, Vanderbilt and Florida, in early April before powerhouse Northwestern comes to Homewood Field on April 16.
The Blue Jays used a huge possession game to hold the Quakers scoreless for the final 19:20 of Wednesday's game. Hopkins didn't score in the last 24:20, but that was OK because they took an 8-2 lead when Rachel Serio scored their final goal. Candace Rossi's goal a less than two minutes into the second half held up as the game winner.
Over the final 14 minutes, the Blue Jays had possession for 13 minutes. Tucker said they didn't deliberately stall until the final three minutes. Penn did not challenge them, so they patiently held possession, waiting for the Quakers to press out so they could find the openings.
With George Washington coming to Homewood Field at 6 p.m. Saturday, Tucker is trying to bring the Blue Jays back to earth and maintain that one-game-at-a-time focus.
"Penn's over. We're not thinking about that anymore," she said. "We've got to be focused on GW, so that's something that's really important. This is part of what our program is learning how to do. There's other programs out there where the kids have been able to [sustain momentum against ranked teams], and we really respect that, that's now where our kids are. We've given ourselves an opportunity with a big win to follow it up."