Denver vs. Johns Hopkins: Halftime thoughts
Johns Hopkins is in danger of becoming the second higher-seeded team to fall in the quarterfinals of the NCAA tournament as the No. 3 seed Blue Jays trail No. 6 seed Denver, 7-3, at halftime at Hofstra University’s James M. Shuart Stadium in Hempstead, N.Y., on Saturday.
The winner of this contest will meet seventh-seeded Virginia (11-5), which bounced second-seeded Cornell, 13-9, in the first quarterfinal here.
Johns Hopkins (13-2) got the first goal of the game when freshman midfielder Rob Guida took a pass from sophomore midfielder John Ranagan and blasted a shot past Pioneers freshman goalie Jamie Faus just 2 minutes, 21 seconds into the contest.
But Denver (14-2) embarked on a 6-0 run punctuated by the midfielders’ abilities to use their speed to blow past the Blue Jays’ short-stick defensive midfielders.
Johns Hopkins did get goals from Ranagan and senior attackman Kyle Wharton within a 43-second span midway through the second quarter, but sophomore midfielder Cameron Flint followed with his third goal of the game to give the Pioneers the 7-3 lead.
*As mentioned before, Denver has exploited mismatches with the Blue Jays’ short-stick defensive midfielders. Flint blew past senior Tim Donovan for the Pioneers’ third goal and then he split senior Matt Dolente and freshman Rob Guida for the first tally of the second quarter. Sophomore midfielder Chase Carraro swam past his defender for Denver’s fifth goal, and Flint’s third goal involved him leaving Dolente trailing behind him.
*Pioneers senior attackman Todd Baxter, who did not play in the team’s 13-10 victory over Villanova in the first round on Sunday because of a high right ankle sprain and a partially torn ligament in the right knee, doesn’t appear to have missed a step. He has scored twice and has been active around the cage.
*Ranagan leads Johns Hopkins with a goal and an assist, but the team’s top two scorers in senior attackman Chris Boland (32 goals and 16 assists) and sophomore attackman Zach Palmer (22, 24) have been non-factors. The play of Denver redshirt junior defenseman Brendan DeBlois and senior defenseman Steve Simonetti on Boland and Palmer, respectively, has been solid.
*The Blue Jays’ advantage on faceoffs has yet to materialize. Dolente, who entered the contest ranked first in Division I in faceoff percentage (.672 on 178-of-265), has won just 4-of-12 draws in the first half. Carraro, who isn’t exactly a wallflower at a .603 success at (213-of-353), has won 8-of-12.