Postscript from Johns Hopkins at Maryland
Maryland did it again, squandering an early sizable lead and falling to a longtime rival.
But unlike that 11-6 loss to North Carolina on March 26, the No. 7 Terps said the 12-11 overtime setback to No. 3 Johns Hopkins at Byrd Stadium in College Park felt differently Saturday night.
“We kind of just put that game in the past,” senior attackman Ryan Young said of the loss to the Tar Heels, who roared back from a 4-0 deficit in the first quarter. “It’s not like we completely collapsed – like we were scared to make plays. It’s Hopkins-Maryland, and today was a completely different game, a completely different atmosphere. We went on our run, they went on their run.”
The Terps (8-3) owned a 7-2 advantage at halftime, but looked helpless as the Blue Jays (9-2) went on a 9-2 run spanning the third and fourth quarters. Maryland coach John Tillman pointed out that rather than wilting, the team scored two goals in a 62-second span to send the contest into overtime.
“They could’ve packed it in,” he said. “The other team had the momentum, and it shows a lot about our guys. When things went poorly, I was very impressed with just the body language, the attitude, the calmness, the poise, the leadership that we had on the sideline. We get back in it, we have a chance to win it late in regulation and overtime. … I think what we showed is we’re making progress. A lot is going to happen in the next six weeks, and hopefully, we can continue to improve and grow and work on some things so that we can poise ourselves for a big run here.”
The first step is the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament where the Terps will face – guess who? – North Carolina (8-4) in the first semifinal on Friday at 5 p.m. in Durham, N.C.
“We’re just going to come back on Monday fired up like we always are and get ready for our first ACC game,” Young said. “Our goal is ACC championship. We’re not dwelling on this game.”
*With Johns Hopkins trailing by five at halftime, coach Dave Pietramala didn’t exactly mince his words in his halftime talk with the players. “We went into halftime and we told our guys we didn’t think they were playing with any heart,” he said. “And we came out after halftime and played with the heart that this team is capable of playing with. This wasn’t a game of X’s and O’s. When a track gets like this and rain makes it sloppy, it’s really about playing hard, and I thought those were two teams that battled, played extremely hard, and it could’ve gone either way.” Fifth-year senior attackman Chris Boland said he did not disagree with Pietramala’s halftime speech. “We just had to settle down and get on the same page in all areas of the field, and that’s credit to their defense and the way they were playing,” said Boland, who scored all five of his goals in the second half. “But I think we built some confidence at halftime, and we just wanted to settle down and all be on the same page as a team. I think we did a good job of doing that, and we were patient, and things kind of fell into place.”
*With fellow classmates Jack Reilly, Rob Guida and Phil Castronova playing so well, freshman midfielder Eric Ruhl has been overlooked. But Ruhl, who is the first rookie midfielder to score a goal in each of his first three games under Pietramala, showed what he’s capable of with his two-goal, one-assist performance against Maryland. “This is pretty much my first game back,” said Ruhl, who sat out three consecutive games with an unspecified injury. “I got a few runs in against Albany [on April 8], and I pretty much just wanted to come out and play as hard as I could. I knew this was a huge rivalry, and we practiced hard all week, and I guess things just fell in place.”
*Pietramala was pleased with the team’s comeback, but he conceded that there’s little time to enjoy the victory. “We’re happy,” he said. “But now, we’ve got a greater challenge ahead of us. We’ve got to kind of put our feet back on the ground. We’ve got Navy coming in [on Saturday night], and I’m certain we’ll get everything that they have. So we’re going to treat this like every other game. We’re going to enjoy it tonight and then we’ll get ready for the next one.” Sidenote: New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick, an avowed lacrosse fan and a friend of Pietramala's, visited the team's locker room after the win.
*An inch separated Maryland from being the happy team Saturday night. In the first minute of overtime, Young and junior midfielder Joe Cummings worked a pick play perfectly with Young finding Cummings alone in front of Blue Jays sophomore goalie Pierce Bassett (eight saves). But Cummings bounced a shot off the left post, and Bassett stopped a backhanded attempt by junior midfielder Jake Bernhardt from point-blank range to set up senior attackman Kyle Wharton’s game-winning goal. “I got open, and Ryan made an awesome feed like he does all the time,” said Cummings, who paced the Terps with four goals. “I just hit the pipe. That happens. We didn’t get the next one, and they made a good play in overtime to score the goal, and they got the win. That’s sometimes how it happens, but we’re going to respond and come back as a team. We win as a team and we lose as a team. We’re a family. So we’re going to take this one, move on, and keep going.”
*Two of Johns Hopkins’ goals occurred as a result of poor outlet passes by Maryland redshirt freshman goalie Niko Amato. A lazy floater in the second quarter was intercepted by sophomore attackman Zach Palmer, who skipped a 35-yard shot into the net. After stopping a blast by sophomore midfielder John Ranagan, Amato’s attempted clear was blocked and intercepted by Boland, who put the ball in the open net. Tillman declined to place any blame on Amato. “Niko, I think, he made some big saves for us,” Tillman said. “He’s had a terrific year for us. Like any young goalie and anybody on our team – whether it’s coaches or players – we’re going to make some mistakes, but we’re going to make some good plays, too. Again, he’s learning as he goes. There’s some things he can improve upon just like myself and the two guys here. We’ll keep fixing it and working at it.”