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The Johns Hopkins men’s lacrosse team suffered their first defeat of the 2012 campaign this past Sunday in the Big City Classic. Hopkins did not look sharp against #11 North Carolina, losing 13-9 in the rain under the bright lights at MetLife Stadium just outside of New York City.
The Blue Jays came out to Homewood Field Thursday night with a visible chip on their shoulder. If you couldn’t see it, then I promise you could hear it from the press box. Head coach Dave Pietramala demanded perfection and let his players know it. Despite handing Albany their largest deficit of the season, 17-6, the head coach was in any Blue Jay’s face who made the slightest error.
After one player failed to execute his assignment on a clear, Pietramala yelled, “How are we gonna beat the top teams if we’re making those mistakes? It’s a lack of discipline.” That one line summed up the win for Hopkins. They played to prove something to themselves rather than proving something to the visiting Great Danes.
The eagerness to put the ugly loss behind them showed as soon as the first whistle was blown. Mike Poppleton won the opening face off to give Hopkins the first possession. Just 37 seconds into the game midfielder John Ranagan made one of his trademark sweeping left handed dodges, ran through a slide and put a high bouncer past the Albany goalkeeper.
Poppleton was the catalyst for the Jays offense all night. Coming off a poor 6 of 18 performance against one of the best face off men in the country in North Carolina’s R.G. Keenan(Boy’s Latin), Poppleton rebounded Thursday night winning 15 of his 21 face off attempts. At 6’1, 200 lbs he is not your prototypical stature at the position, but his athleticism adds a fast breaking dimension that other face off men do not possess.
Albany failed to post their first tally of the game until Lyle Thompson scored on a nice individual play with 1:38 left in the first quarter, backing down his defenseman very much in the mold of a tough box lacrosse style.
Freshman Lyle Thompson and his sophomore brother Miles are the younger set of the four Thompson brothers who grew up on the Onondaga Reservation in upstate New York. Their two older brothers Jeremy and Jerome were stars at Onondaga Community College and play for the Iroquois National team. Jeremy went on to have an impressive career at Syracuse, earning third team All-American honors as a midfielder in 2011. Jerome struggled academically and could not stay eligible for the 2011 spring season.
The cousin of the four Thompson brothers, Ty, a sophomore attackman, starts for the Great Danes as well. Despite the talented family trio and lead returning scorer, senior attackman Joe Resetarits, Albany lacks the supporting cast this year to keep up with other top Division I teams, resulting in their 1-8 record so far this season.
Hopkins did not make life any easier for the struggling Danes, jumping out to a 10-1 lead shortly after halftime on a nice feed from senior midfielder Mark Goodrich to Chris Boland(Boy’s Latin) who popped off his defenseman and buried a shot from five yards out. Boland, who was injured at the end of the season opener against Towson, missed the next eight games. He returned in the loss versus North Carolina but posted two goals and two assists. In the three games Boland has played this season, he has tallied at least four points in each.
Albany’s second goal did not come until the seven minute mark in the third quarter, when Danes defenseman Travis Lyons cleared the ball into offensive territory and found Ty Thompson to make it 10-2. Finding a sliver of new life in the final five minutes of the third quarter, Albany brought the score to 11-5 on a nice Resetarits catch and finish in the middle of the Hopkins defense. The goal for Resetarits continued a 43-game point streak for the senior from Hamburg, N.Y.
The Danes run was short lived as Ranagan once again swept to his left and fired low and away on the run, extending the Hopkins lead to 12-5 heading into the fourth quarter. The Blue Jays came out in the fourth putting the game permanently out of reach with three unanswered goals by Wells Stanwick(Boy’s Latin), Ranagan and finally Zach Palmer who beat Albany goalie Max Huber(no relation) with the same offside-hip snipe for the second time in the game.
At the 7:24 mark in the fourth, Hopkins led 15-5 and deployed their second teamers, nonetheless the Blue Jays backups put up two more goals before all was said and done. Albany scored one last goal which brought the final to 17-6.
Have to mention Tucker Durkin who held Resetarits, the Danes top scorer, to just one point. Durkin had himself an assist and spurred a fast break goal by finding Boland wide open on the crease who unselfishly dished the ball to Palmer for a goal in the second quarter. On another fast break, Durkin drove the length of the field and took a shot which was deflected by Huber. Durkin picked up the rebound from his own shot and kept possession for the offense who scored seconds later. His hustle and intensity exemplify Pietramala’s attitude on the field, it’s no surprise that Durkin was named a preseason first team All-American.
Hopkins came out with a dominant performance Thursday night and will look to continue the intensity level in practice over the next week and a half. The Jays take on their old rivals Maryland at Homewood Field next Saturday night at 6 p.m. That game can be seen on ESPNU.